I’ll be the judge

I see what you did there, young Stephen. You maybe thought you were being subtle and clever, but from where I’m sitting your efforts look rather crude. All of this is just another smear job targeting Stu Campbell and Wings Over Scotland by associating him and his website with a catalogue of far-right groups and a Who’s Who of notorious bigots. Yeah, Stephen! I see what you did. And I expect everybody else does too.

At least Stephen Paton’s wee hatchet-job manages to be considerably less shrill and demented than some of the attacks on Stu Campbell we’ve seen of late. The following serves as a particularly nasty example of this spittle-flecked vituperation notable because it comes from one of the people now running the SNP from his seat on the party’s National Executive Committee. Glasgow City Councillor Graham Campbell (no relation and I’m pretty sure they’d disown each other if they were) is a leading figure among the group of righteous radicals weaponising minority status – their own and others’ – as a device to hijack the SNP as a vehicle for their own ‘idiosyncratic’ ideology and the perfectly justified grievances of those on the disfavoured side of our myriad social imbalances as both a shield behind which to hide when challenged and a cudgel with which to beat down any who question the righteousness of their brand of radicalism.

We shall let Graham Campbell speak. Although this is a privilege he is less ready to extend to others.

I can’t divulge what’s said on NEC – however my own position accords with yours, Mike Smart’s and Neil Murray’s – WOS is an alt-right fascistic platform. Supporting, retweeting or writing for is incompatible with left social democratic, civic nationalist or socialist politics. I believe it should be made incompatible with SNP membership.

Forget the opening part of this comment in which he manages to get two names entirely wrong. It’s the outpouring of bilious invective railing against Wings Over Scotland (WOS), Stu Campbell’s website, that is of interest to us here.

I should mention at this point that I have this quote at least second-hand from an image (above) published on said website showing a screenshot taken from Graham Campbell’s Twitter feed. I have no reason to doubt its authenticity. But I’m sure there is already a conspiracy theory building around the picture.

Mr G Campbell describes Rev S Campbell’s blogsite as an “alt-right fascistic platform” – almost as if he were giving Stephen Paton a cue. It’s a bold allegation for someone who not only seeks to whip up the mob into a frenzy of mild annoyance at unspecified content on a massively popular pro-independence website, he reckons on taking to himself and his associates the power to dictate what sources of news, information and comment may be accessed by ordinary party members such as he isn’t, on pain of dismemberment. (Not really! That’s a wee play on words there.)

Levity aside, this is seriously presumptuous stuff. Normally such overblown rhetoric might be dismissed as a bit of the hyperbole that’s allowable in social media. If that’s not what Twitter’s for then who knows what purpose it might serve. As we prepare to dismiss Graham Campbell’s diktat as some momentary silliness, a disturbing thought occurs. What if this were a serious suggestion? What if rather than just an episode of spleen-venting this were actually a declaration of intent? Could Graham Campbell and his allies on the NEC actually do this? Could they actually make it a breach of party discipline to write guest articles for Wings Over Scotland? Such a rule would see people like Councillor Chris McEleny and even Kenny MacAskill MP stripped of their SNP membership. (Dismembered! Get it now?) Surely not!

Were Graham Campbell to get what he has revealed as his wish then a similar fate would befall any party member who shared Wings Over Scotland content or any found guilty of “supporting” the site. A term sufficiently vague to take in a large part of the membership; but evidently intended to cut off Rev Stu’s funding. But could such a rule make it into the party’s code of conduct?

A better question might be to ask what would prevent Graham Campbell’s intemperate outburst becoming a decree. When we look at what the NEC has been doing in relation to candidate selection in the name of positive discrimination, it becomes all too easy to believe that the righteous radicals on the committee could impose whatever rules they wish and there would be very little anybody could do to stop them. I don’t know about anybody else but I’ve come to dread the next leaked report of the NEC’s deliberations and proceedings. I can certainly see why Graham Campbell would want the goings-on kept strictly secret. I almost wish he might succeed in this. But that’s a fleeting lapse. Mostly, I much prefer to be informed, even when the information causes me pain and distress.

Here we find what motivates Graham Campbell and the clique of crazies who’ve taken charge of what I persist in regarding as my party in spite of the fact that it gets less and less recognisable as such with every new revelation published by Stu Campbell. It is these revelation which motivate Graham Campbell’s desire to shut down Wings Over Scotland. Or at least deter party members from accessing the site’s content. Not because there’s anything wrong with that content. Neither Graham Campbell nor any of the others seeking to silence Stu Campbell ever produce any evidence the vileness they assert fills the pages where the less bitterly prejudiced of us and those without anything to hide find only incisive, evidence-based forensic journalism of the highest order.

Stephen Paton, while lecturing us about the folly of conspiracy theories, is reduced to attributing malign intent to mentioning that somebody is Irish in his effort to find the culpability which might justify an ongoing campaign of vilification against Wings Over Scotland. In fact, Stu Campbell’s only ‘crime’ is that of throwing a light where the clique of crazies would have we plebs kept in the dark. He commits the heinous offence of purveying facts where the SNP leadership and senior management would rather promulgate a fiction in which they are ever the heroes. Stu Campbell’s villany consists of telling the truth. That this might lead us to conclude the Empresses fine raiment is but an illusion disguising a state of embarrassing deshabille is understandably discomfiting for the courtiers with whom she exists in a state of interdependence.

But for Wings Over Scotland we would be less aware and less informed and therefore less able to make judgements about those directing the SNP or the direction in which they are taking our party. When someone in a position of power seeks to silence a dissenting voice then the assumption tends to be that this someone has something to hide. That assumption is seldom if ever wrong.

Those who would limit our ability to make informed choices are those who have reason to fear our judgement. The role of the media in a democratic society is to expose to our judgement those who fear it. Those who would resort to draconian measures to escape our judgement. Those who would grind under the heel of censorship the right to freedom of expression even while proclaiming themselves the bold defenders of principled journalism. A democratic society needs sources of news, information and commentary which speak truth unto power. Perhaps more importantly a truly democratic society tolerates no attempt to prohibit or restrict access to truth – as many versions of it as may be freely published.

Bear that in mind as you read Stephen Paton’s article. Think about it as you read Graham Campbell’s words. Consider that the freedoms both of those people depend on to say the things they say in the way they say them is the very freedom each in their way would disallow others in whole or part. The same freedom that allows me to publish this. The same freedom that allows you to read it. Guard that precious freedom against all threats explicit or insidious.

19 thoughts on “I’ll be the judge

  1. It just gets worse and worse …

    It has always been ‘both votes SNP’ for me at Holyrood elections. I’ve always believed in maximising the vote in both constituency and region dimensions since doing that lends total legitimacy to the party if it forms a government with the largest share of the popular vote. Parliamentary representation then looks after themselves.

    Last week ago I wrote to my SNP constituency candidate (Edinburgh Southern) as well as Stewart Stevenson, SNP National Secretary to inform them that I could not even participate in the List selection ‘process’ (for Lothian region) and I would not be voting SNP on the list (for the first time ever).

    I cannot in all conscience legitimise the selection process by participating in it when the outcome is preordained. Similarly I will not endorse a candidate on the list at election time by voting SNP as I have already been disenfranchised.

    As it turns out I found out after I sent my communications that Graham Campbell is top of the SNP candidate list for the SNP in Lothian Region, courtesy of his ethnic status. So that I suppose puts the tin hat on it. But Graham Campbell’s views on censorship further confirms that my decision is correct.

    I’m unhappy that I feel that i have had to take this stand but I will at least be able to look in the mirror and recognise myself.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I think many will sympathise with you. We may make different decisions. But we all are in the same position of having to choose which of our principles is to be compromised. A position that none of us chose to be in.

      Liked by 5 people

  2. My fingers are poised over the keyboard in composition of a letter of complaint to the paper about this tawdry piece of intellectual laziness. But I hesitate because they don’t publish my letters any more. Perhaps some jointly signed missive from members of this blogosphere might get through. I doubt it though.

    The woke lot really do need some lessons in intellectual integrity. The blurring of moral categories and puerile logic they use stands in stark contrast to the crisp empiricism with which WoS approaches analysis. Already by standing up for WoS we are all guilty by association of mixing with some serious nutjobs and by implication that is what we all are.

    When misgendering a person has the same ethical value as murdering them, then we are in deep shit. As I write I am sitting in the queue for my monthly hormone blocking injection. I am advised while taking this not to attempt to get another person pregnant. Person.

    We have to stand up to this stuff!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I would certainly lend my name to an appropriately drafted communal letter of complaint to The National.

      As many of the posts indicate in the comments section of the article there is outrage at the shoddy journalism and the recent nosedive in quality of the paper’s ‘journalism’.

      As regards the author of the piece, a quick click on his twitter feed proves that he has an axe to grind regarding Wings over Scotland and his own views on GRA reform etc. He’s entitled to his views but should be honest about them.

      So count me in.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Let’s also consider this.

    If Wings is an alt right blog? Which we know of course is patent nonsense of the highest order , but we will humour Graham Campbell for the sake of argument. Then what business is it of someone in the SNP to tell me what I can and can’t follow!

    We have reached the dangerous point where the SNP is now becoming a fringe party like the Greens. The SNP is not supposed to be a fringe party or an ideological party. It is supposed to be a catch all movement of independence. Something which Salmond clearly understood. The party must capture the majority of Scots , in order to get a majority for independence.

    The majority of Scots are center and center left. That’s our target group. That the SNP is now going down a route of micro opinion. Suggests that they are now becoming a party of devolution. Where they fight the election , not on independence, but on ideology. They are becoming the establishment party of devolution.

    This is the road to ruin. Sturgeon has given up on independence.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I have said for a long time, it appears SNP is now more the Devolution Party, than the Independence Party.
      All that has been going on seem to confirm this view.
      Sure SNP would prefer Independence to being ruled by London, but t this present time, looks like it suits SNP.
      It is not an acceptable situation but at same time, we can’t let the SN[ lose control at Edinburgh.
      We really do need an alternative for the List.
      The major problem we have, is the lack of any proper group we all turn to.
      Those who could have created such an alternative, have in my view, overstayed their time in SNP hoping.
      The List groups we do have, don’t as yet look like they can gather enough support. Thy need to do far better. We need to see they can get both the credibility necessary, and the votes that will bring.


  4. When the thought crimes commission gets underway (after May’s election ) and the new party disciplinary committee is given full powers of pit and gallow, there may follow show trials “pour encourager les autres” . Heids will be sned and necks raxed in the name of party loyalty .Already we’re being discouraged from following certain blogs , Wings is virtually proscribed .The party witch finders should bear in mind what happened when the BBC banned the playing of certain popular music releases on their programmes . The banning invariably resulted in record sales going through the roof .

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This blaming WoS for publicising the nefarious inner workings of the SNP is the same sort of logic that blames the police for ‘picking on poor innocents’ who are driving at 40mph in a 30 zone. If you don’t want a speeding ticket, don’t speed! If you do & get one don’t bleat about it. If you want to be seen as a party of democracy how about actually being democratic?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you, Peter. This is up there with your best articles. I really do hope you get your party back soon – Scotland needs it.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The rant is sinister but also very stupid.

    I intend to tell my fellow branch members (repeatedly) that they shouldn’t read Wings over Scotland because our leaders say so.

    The Streisland effect will do it’s work

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The truth rarely comes in palatable form.

    Spin and bullshit does though.

    All the attacks on WoS omit one thing, proof that he has his facts wrong.

    When you see people playing the man, not the ball, you know who is the wrong ‘un.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Not one word of complaint in today’s paper about Paton’s patent nonsense. Just a generic tirade against woke, which no doubt lets the editors feel as if they are providing balance while they fail to allow scrutiny of Paton’s puerile prose. It is also possible that nobody wrote in because what would be the point.


  10. FGS. Here we go again. Promoting a website that’s telling everyone not to vote for the SNP now. Are you for real?


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