Thursday, January 12, 2017

Co-belligerents rather than loved-up allies : a realistic view of how different parts of the alternative pro-indy media can complement each other as Indyref 2 approaches

So Bella Caledonia's future seems secure after all, without even needing to take up Craig Murray's offer to work as editor for free (although, after the overwhelming result of our poll the other night, Craig will forever be known as "the people's choice for Bella editor"!). From my reading of the announcement, it seems that Mike Small will continue as editor, but only for a transitional period while new arrangements are put in place. I suspect that even Bella's most trenchant critics will be happy enough with the outcome, because most of them regard 80-90% of the site's output as exceptionally good - it's just been the editorial stance in respect of RISE and tactical voting (and the denials that there has been any editorial stance on those subjects at all) that has got quite a few backs up.

With a localised crisis having been averted, this may be a useful moment to reflect on the broader state of the pro-independence alternative media as we approach a probable (admittedly not certain) independence referendum over the next couple of years. As you may remember me mentioning, about three months ago I was invited to a 'separatist dinner' along with a number of other Yes people who have a decent following on social media or in the blogosphere. One purpose of the event was to have a collective think about how we might go about neutralising the problem of what our opponents would describe as 'Cybernat abuse' during the next referendum. I don't think there was any intention to deny the fact that abuse from the unionist side is either equally bad or in some cases much worse. There was simply a feeling that if we could find a practical way of reducing the problem on our own side, it would be a good thing in itself and also helpful for the Yes campaign.

I was, I must admit, a wee bit sceptical about how effective a 'disapproval of community elders' approach can ever be. Really hardcore abusive trolls are not going to be impressed by that sort of thing, and may become even worse if they feel persecuted by both sides. But if it is to have any chance at all of working, there would have to be a reasonably united front, and that's where the idea really starts to fall down. Ironically, a few of the people who were at that dinner, including myself, have since ended up having bitter disputes with each other on social media - not necessarily abusive disputes, but certainly very unpleasant. So there's a part of me that's inclined to say : to hell with clearing out the nutter trolls, the first priority has got to be to stop ourselves from damaging the cause by knocking lumps out of each other.  The disagreements are probably not doing any harm at the moment, but in the heat of battle it could be a very different story.

As a result of the Bella crisis, GA Ponsonby has reiterated a vision of a united pro-indy alternative media that he's outlined before - as I understand it, the proposal is that there should be a pan-Yes co-operative with a central fund to aid all writers who need to be compensated for their time and effort. I struggle to see how that would work in practice, because if absolutely anyone could access the fund for absolutely any form of writing, the money would often not go to the best use. But as soon as you bow to the inevitable and introduce editorial control, you're assuming that all parts of the Yes movement are capable of treating each other with mutual respect and tolerance, without trying to silence certain voices or shut down certain views. I have to say that I feel my own experiences over the last few days have tested that assumption to destruction.

As long-term readers know, I'm about as left-wing as they come, and when I fill out 'Political Compass'-type questionnaires, they often end up telling me that my own politics are actually closest to the Greens rather than to the SNP. So in theory at least, I should have a great deal of common ground with people involved at CommonSpace, or in the Greens, or in RISE. But one reason I'm not a Green, of course, is that I regard independence as an overriding objective on its own merits. No-one could ever reasonably dispute the authenticity of Patrick Harvie's commitment to independence, but it's not what brought him in to politics. Many people in the radical left parties are, quite understandably, most passionate about the environment, or about citizen's income, or about LGBT rights, or about radical feminism.

For the most part that needn't cause any flare-ups, because there's considerable shared ground on many of those issues across the Yes movement. But I think we have to be grown-up enough to recognise that there are some points of contention that 45% of the population (let alone 51%) are never going to be able to resolve amongst themselves or reach a shared view about.  Radical feminist ideology is one obvious example.  Please note that I'm using the term 'radical feminism' advisedly - I'm not referring to a belief in equality between the sexes, which in this day and age is a shared value across the vast bulk of the political left, and most of the political right as well.  Radical feminism goes well beyond that, with some strains of the ideology regarding women as the inherently superior gender.  (Even when that view is not expressed explictly, it's betrayed by the constant spitting out of words and phrases such as "mansplaining" and "what about teh menz", which frame the word "man" as if it's somehow derogatory.  It would never be regarded as acceptable to use the word "woman" in the same way.)  Self-evidently, that worldview is not one that's shared by the great mass of the population, either female or male.  It is therefore totally unrealistic to expect the Yes movement, which ultimately is drawn from that population, to speak with a single voice on the issue.

So what is the test of tolerance and mutual respect here?  I'd suggest there are two approaches that ought to allow people with diverging views to rub along with each other.  One is just not to engage with each other at all on the subject, and the other is to engage in a comradely way that acknowledges the right of the other person to hold an alternative position.  Several people involved with CommonSpace (belatedly including the editor herself) failed that test when I dared to express my own view on the John Mason episode the other day.  Instead of debating or challenging my views in the normal way, they tried to shut those views down and pathologise them - and indeed to pathologise me.  I was a mentally unstable, "weird", "creepy", "auld guy", who was "harassing younger women" simply by speaking to them as I would speak to anyone else, and who wasn't respecting their right to withhold "consent" (the latter being a cowardly way of implying that answering them back was somehow equivalent to sexual harassment or rape).  I should have just "shut up".  Make no mistake about it - I thought that use of language was disgraceful at the time, and with the benefit of having had plenty of time to reflect on it in the cold light of day, I still think it's disgraceful now.  I know that quite a few other people received similar treatment.  What I find disturbing is not so much that I will almost certainly never receive an apology, but that the people involved probably don't even privately have the first glimmer of understanding of why using those words about another human being, whether female or male, is dehumanising and profoundly hurtful.

Depressingly, I therefore see no prospect of there ever being sufficient mutual respect and tolerance across the Yes movement for it to be possible for particularly sensitive and contentious topics that don't directly relate to independence to be openly debated in a constructive and comradely way.  So to avoid harmful disputes, perhaps what we need to do is just embrace the fact that in many cases we're in this game for very different reasons - in the terminology of warfare, we're 'co-belligerents' rather than 'allies', with independence being the common objective.  As far as the alternative pro-indy media is concerned, we can certainly complement each other and make sure we don't tread on each other's toes as the referendum gets close - for example, the radical left can recognise that Wings reaches a great many people that CommonSpace and Bella never will, and vice versa.  But even that will require a kind of grudging mutual respect - an acceptance, even if it's never spoken aloud, that the bits of the pro-indy media you personally dislike are nevertheless part of the solution in hard-headed electoral terms, rather than part of the problem.  That more limited mutual respect isn't there yet (witness the latest attempts to brand the huge popularity of Wings as "problematic"), but it's a more realistic goal, and I think that's probably what we should be working towards.

72 comments:

  1. Should be obvious to all that we do not all sing from the same hymn-sheet and that this is good for Scottish democracy and our inevitable ending of the union of two kingdoms.

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    1. Glasgow Working Class 2January 12, 2017 at 2:07 AM

      Aye but you want to hand our Kingdom over to the EU dominated by Germany. And it is not inevitable Nat si. Handing Scotland over to the EU would be treachery.

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    2. More impotent rage from the operative. How's that militia idea taking shape? Y'know, the one you wanted in every office and factory?

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    3. Nadine's up late again. Must have been a heavy night in Chigwell.

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  2. Hey, I was the one she called 'auld guy'!

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    1. What she actually said was "auld guys", so I suspect she was talking about both of us.

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  3. Ach love's overrated at times anyway James.

    I would hope & expect that during the next indy campaign tolerance & respect between the co-belligerents should be a reasonable expectation : the common goal's the important thing after all.

    Never having met, you've always struck me as a considerate, thoughtful & well-mannered fella when expressing your views & opinions, so I wouldn't dwell on it overly.

    In the meantime have a hot chocolate on me :-)

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  4. Mention of that 'separatist dinner' and the need for a 'united front' prompted a rueful smile. My own invitation to that meeting was withdrawn when I commented on some irksomely pointless sniping at the SNP in the group email exchanges by which the gathering was being organised. Apparently, the profound irony of this exclusion of even mildly dissenting voices was lost on those arranging the meeting. I'm not quite sure what the difference is between a 'safe space' and an intellectual vacuum.

    Not that my voice is always so 'mild' in expressing my views on the matter of how the first referendum failed to achieve the desired outcome, and what must be done to improve the chances of #indyref2 being more successful. I have been quite outspoken in my criticism of those elements of the Yes movement which have exhibited a tendency to put partisan loyalties and narrow policy agendas before the overarching objective of restoring Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. I make no apologies for this.

    Nor do I apologise for the fact that I may from time to time resort to what we might call ‘robust’ language when commenting on the more spectacular foolishness indulged in by some Yes supporters - just as I do when commenting on our opponents. I do not get exercised about so-called ‘online abuse’. My attitude is that not everybody expresses themselves in the same way. Not everybody has the same access to language. My default position is that it is better people should feel free to speak out, regardless of the manner in which they do so, than that they should be excluded from the whole process.

    The patently contrived hysteria about ‘cybernat abuse’ never had anything to do with improving the quality of debate. It was/is entirely about limiting participation and inducing self-censorship. It is likely that the tedious bleating of self-appointed moderators did more harm to the Yes campaign than a few swear words on Twitter. In the matter of ‘cybernat abuse’, as in many other matters (e.g. the ‘currency issue’ - http://indyref2.scot/what-currency-issue), it was/is extremely disappointing how ready some in the Yes movement were/are to allow our opponents to dictate the agenda and the terms of the debate.

    At times, it’s difficult to discern where the No campaign ends and the Yes campaign starts so eager are some in the latter to adopt the narrative of the former.

    I detect a note of pessimism in James Kelly’s comments about the ability of the Yes movement to achieve the kind of unity of purpose and focus on essentials which I am firmly persuaded is crucial if the independence campaign is to be as effective as it needs to be. I share those doubts. Despite having been ‘uninvited’ to the pre-conference meeting, I will still be attending the SIC event in Glasgow on Saturday. I fervently hope that my misgivings about the likely tenor of that gathering will prove unfounded.

    My optimism about the potential for a powerful alternative pro-independence media has also been wearing a bit thin of late. I tend to take a very pragmatic approach to these things. In relation to communication, as with matters of campaign strategy and style, I look at what works and what definitely doesn’t, taking lessons from across the board. My conclusion, simply stated, is that the strength of diversity too readily shades into the vulnerability of divisiveness.

    The problem facing the Yes movement is finding a way to reconcile that diversity with the need to make common cause. In marketing terms, the independence ‘brand’ is being diluted. The aim must be ‘Many Voices - One Message’. I am not as confident as I once was that this is achievable.

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    1. Well said Peter. Getting concerned about 'cybernat abuse' is following the unionist agenda. Also, why are the online/social media wanting to ape the monolithic model of the old media. A strength of the new media is its diversity in ownership and opinion.

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    2. Peter - as ever you make a great many points with varying degrees of agreement from many across the Yes spectrum. Let us clear something up though sir - your invite to the dinner was absolutely nothing at all to do with criticism of the SNP. The attendees were a mix of backgrounds and each and every one in one way or another has positive and negative views about the SNP and other political parties and bodies including those us actually in the SNP. As many folk have said we are very unlikely to agree with each other 100% of the time but to the point you made well - we have to agree that independence is the goal. Final point - the dinner was not arrange to discuss how to deal with unionism or those supporting it but to explore how key groups might work together whilst we await the outcome of the Scot Gov stand off with UK Gov over Brexit.

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    3. I know why my invitation was withdrawn. Because I was told. I was left in no doubt.

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  5. We don't have to agree with each other on all issues but we must respect each other and the right to hold certain views.

    I get the fact that in many ways there is no real equality between the sexes. I also understand to a degree the frustration of the radical feminists which quite rightly balk at hurtful terminology such as "do you think I zip up the back", compounded by justification along the lines "pc gone wild"... similarly the racist tones such as "comming off a banana boat".

    Misogyny is a well known word often loosely used, yet who has heard of Miandry?

    When pointed out, an apology is appropriate. Refusal to accept an apology for an inappropriate (often innocent) comment is possibly worse than the perceived offence.

    Respect and tolerance of another's view folks, lighten up please.

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  6. The 'cybernat' tag was invented as a Unionist label to discredit the dismaying prevalence of pro-indy voices on the internet. In my (limited) experience the most foolish and offensive remarks come from supporters of the Union, but this may be an artefact of cybernats gleefully retweeting them.

    Early in my (now terminated) career with the SNP I became a constituency convener. I sometimes reacted rather - er - firmly to views I disapproved of. I'll repeat here the friendly warning I was given back then by a more experienced activist: always remember it's a volunteer army.

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  7. Heres how it's gonna be.The next campaign will be a grassroots campaign.It will consist of small,local groups doing canvassing,leafleting,street stalls and meetings in their own streets,villages towns and communities.So,much the same as last time,only this time we won't be waiting for leadership from YES HQ.We'll be getting together our own campaign material and cracking on with it.
    The role of bloggers,writers,musicians etc is to provide inspiration.James Kelly and Stu Campbell have a big role to play,but it's small conversations and lots of door chapping that will win us independence.

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  8. "Let's work together as if we are living in the early days of a better nation" is still worth thinking about. Independent Scotland will still contain a variety of voices arguing for different priorities and directions, which is called democracy.

    It would be unrealistic to expect otherwise, indeed wavering voters are worried by the apparently monolithic appearance of SNP independence supporters. If we are honest about the variety of views among independence supporters and don't try to hide them, people will see that there is room for their views in Indy Scotland.

    I'm a Green and my support for independence comes from a belief that the political centre of gravity in Scotland is further to the left, more communitarian, more social, more internationalist, less imperial, less xenophobic and more inclusive that England. If I thought Scots were like English Tories of UKIP, independence would not appeal.

    Currently we are in a "phony war" which we all know is coming but is delayed by events beyond our control. We are restless, quarrelsome, champing at the bit but apprehensive about the future. It's understandable.

    Courage, mes amis!

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  9. During WW11 the Allies all had different agendas and ideas about what they wanted after the conflict but put their differences aside in order to defeat the common enemy.
    The current problems appear to arise from failing to identify the common enemy.
    If people want any sort of meaningful change then freeing ourself from the yoke of Westminster rule has to be the number one priority.
    Without that,very little change will be possible.

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  10. I wouldn't fund a pan-Yes central pot. I decide on who I believe is contributing the best information to going for Independence.
    Bella and Common Space spend quite a bit of space silly criticising the SNP,but the SNP is the only party with the political power to carry it through. All the individual groups in the world don't have that force. They can inform but if they work against maintaining the effective political power they serve no more purpose than the Unionists.
    The power remains with the Unionist parties and control in Westminster. It doesn't matter how much fixing and fiddling with the powers we do have in Scotland, that can all be swept away by decisions in Westminster. Witness the selling of the Green Bank and the UK cutting nearly all financing of renewable energy funding.

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  11. James, I like your writing, including your style, in general. But one thing in this post sticks in my throat. You seem to have adopted the current fashion for writing "female or male" rather than "male or female", even when the sense of the sentence would suggest it should be the other way around, for rhetorical effect. That's to leave aside the general 'rule' of end-weighting in English. This strikes me as kowtowing to excessive political correctness, i.e. one has to put "female" first to avoid being accused of sexism. This sort of politicising of language is a real pain.

    And what happened to the fill in your name and email address to post a comment? I refuse to use a Google profile, which leaves with the option of Anonymous. I imagine you'd have a lot less 'anonymous' commenters if you were to restore the previous system.

    Brian Fleming
    Finland

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    1. I filled in this reply with a name manually entered, so I believe the issue's at your end Brian.

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    2. Ahaa. Thanks Gavin. Being computer illiterate, I'll just have to remain anonymous in future.

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    3. Brian, I don't have any control over the commenting system, but as far as I can see it hasn't changed. There have been a few gremlins recently, though - one or two of my own comments have disappeared into the ether.

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  12. I agree with Peter A Bell's conclusion that "the strength of diversity too readily shades into the vulnerability of divisiveness" and James' conclusion that each of these ways of reaching people are "part of the solution in hard-headed electoral terms, rather than part of the problem".

    I hope we can make the shift from (what used to be good natured and then became bad natured) duelling within the Yes movement, to recognising the need for at least two distinct but equally crucial perspectives:
    - one that focuses support on the SNP and the question of how to make the best of the system we are in, and
    - the other on the opportunities independence can offer for radically changing the system we are in.

    It was the combination of both these perspectives that brought us to 45%.

    Quite understandably - given all the EU and Global uncertainty - Nicola is playing the 'change and stability' card even more strongly than the SNP played it in IndyRef1 (keep the currency, keep the Queen, keep the BBC, etc), but that alone won't pull us above 50%, we also need the radical voices that enable people to see that Independence could be about radically changing what many experience as an unjust and unfair system. After all, Trump/ Brexit etc success is partly about ever more people seeing the need for radical change, and hopefully here in Scotland that can be of the progressive rather than regressive type.

    So, I'd say that we need those who reach the mainstream and those who offer a more radical vision - in a sense James embodies both of those in different ways (and so is likely to be criticised by both).

    What I find weird is when people think that just because they see someone's perspective as worthless, I should too.

    Seeing worth in others is not about agreeing with them on everything they say, its about recognising where the commonality lies, and using the disagreement to question my own position as much as to question theirs. Unless, of course, I am already right and have always been right and anyone disagreeing with me is automatically wrong - but if I believe that then I stopped learning a long time ago, and am probably just echoing those I have decide I agree with rather than really thinking for myself.

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  13. No matter what your private views are about any policy you must put them aside for the greater goal of INDEPENDENCE. Much of the dissension arises from the bellowing of a few loud voices on the Lefty Left, who, as was shown at HR 2015, do not in any way represent the YES movement. These people fight among themselves about everything, apparently, because they prefer to fight than to win. They are the purveyors of the Groucho Marx tendency, "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."

    Personally I'll continue doing things my way, assertively, with the occasional nasty thrown in where I decide it is necessary or appropriate. I wish the SNP et al would be more like me in their dealings with the media and with the bullshit produced by the 'Opposition'.

    I am a proud cybernat and I will criticise the English whenever I think they need it. I have been done with puussyfooting around the straw man of racism and the English for a long time.

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  14. Brian Flemming

    Finland

    Concur

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    1. Learn to fucking spell, ya halfwit.

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    2. Meaning, if you want to troll with my name, learn to spell it properly.

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  15. My late elder brother was a genuine rocket scientist. Back in the 1970s, he came back from a trip to Cape Canaveral with a new expression, apparently common in those parts: "If you're up to your butt in alligators, it's difficult to remember, you're supposed to be draining the swamp".

    Well, right now, we in the Independence movement are up to our erses in alligators, as we try to drain the swamp of Westminster/Establishment mis-management of Scotland. These alligators take various forms - the BUMS of the Daily Heil, the Torygraph and so-forth; the Proud Scots but, including sadly The Herald and The Scotsman. Yes, we have turned some alligators into handbags, when we got rid of all those "Low-Flying Jimmies" in 2015, but, we still have Tank Commander Krankie, Dippity Dug and Oor Wullie and their claque to see-off.

    We need a united front, we need leadership, which should come from the SNP. The trouble is, I see the governing party as being in many ways an old school, regimented fighting unit, when we are maybe better off fighting a guerrila war.

    That said, the SNP remains our best hope of leading a united, broad-church front for Independence. I can see, once Independence has been achieved and an SNP government has led us through the initial five-year period, that party breaking-up as those who have lent them their support in order to gain the Holy Grail of Independence, revert to their preferred political stance.

    For instance, I believe a revived "One Nation" right-of-centre party, which believed in Independence will have a very real future in an Independent Scotland, whereas the more-right-of-centre "Scottish" Conservative Party, taking its orders from London and the current "Scottish" Labour Party, again very Londoncentric, are withering on the vine as their support base ages and dies off.

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    1. "The trouble is, I see the governing party as being in many ways an old school, regimented fighting unit, when we are maybe better off fighting a guerrila war."

      That's very misguided, I'm afraid. Bear in mind that independence has to be won from within the British political system. An "old school, regimented fighting unit" is PRECISELY what is required. It is what works within the British political system. A system that has been honed over centuries to deal with "guerrilla" attacks. A system which only recognises and respects brute political strength.

      With all due respect to the likes of Patrick Harvie and the various Yes groups, the British state doesn't even regard any or all of them as having even nuisance value. The only thing that scares the British establishment is the prospect of Nicola Sturgeon hammering at the doors of Westminster with the 'big stick' of an unchallengeable mandate from the people of Scotland.

      It's time for some hard-headed, grown-up politics. Grit your teeth and hold your nose if you must. Choose how you go about it in practice. But get behind Sturgeon and the SNP. There is, quite literally, no other way.

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  16. The independence movement can be roughly split into two groups, those who want independence for its own sake and those who have a specific agenda and think independence is the best way to achieve it.

    Those in the first group have independence as their top priority, while those in the second don't.

    Unfortunately, it seems many in the second group will only support a form of independence guaranteed to deliver on their agenda, hence their endless arguments with those who either hold a different opinion or don't see it as a priority. I've had umpteen arguments with folk saying they'd vote no if we're going to stay in NATO, if we're going to keep the Queen, if we're not going to introduce stronger land reform, etc., etc., and telling them independence gives you the opportunity to decide that for yourself rather than Westminster making the decision for you doesn't seem to convince them.

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    1. Glasgow Working Class 2January 12, 2017 at 3:00 PM

      The agenda from the nat sis should be the economy, jobs and currency. Most people know most Nat sis want to leave NATO and get rid of the Monarchy. But you pretended you wanted to keep them to encourage more to vote yes.
      If you were upfront and told the people thousands would lose their jobs in the name of nationalism then maybe the people would have taken the pill.

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    2. Apparently, there's somebody called Nat who has a little sister who pretends to want some things that voters want in order to get votes, but who is being advised to pretend instead that she want things that voters don't want so as to get voters to swallow some pills.

      My feeling is that this might work better as a graphic novel.

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    3. Nicely done, sir. Nicely done.

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    4. To answer Angry Weegie, if you examine your beliefs there will be at bottom a lot of good reasons why independence is a good idea, which are now a fundamental part of your life. Same with me. I've completely accepted we need independence. I just think iScotland needs to be Greener than it is and rather than wait for the great day I'm working for it now. Don't doubt my desire for independence. It's not conditional. I've already worked out we need it, like nearly half of all Scots.

      Greens are not here to get in the way of independence and it's good to have other pro-indy parties with the SNP, however small.

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  17. I agree with Mr Bell. A strong unified opposition is required. The British Empire excelled at divide-and-conquer and small indie supporting groups will be ignored by Westminster. It will be much easier for them to ignore a clamour of small voices than one loud voice with mass support.

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    1. I've been rather encouraged by some comments, here and elsewhere, which suggest more and more people are realising the truth of what you say. And that the SNP offers the only way of bringing that voice into the heart of the British political system.

      We might think of the Yes movement as a bright light. This light doesn't trouble the British establishment because it has equipped itself with shades and sunscreen. To burn a hole through the tough carapace that protects the British state, that light must be focused to a point. The SNP is the lens. It's the only lens we have. Simple as that.

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    2. Nicely put.

      The SNP are the only Scottish pro-indy party with a voice in Westminster and it's difficult enough to get themselves heard as it is. Splitting ourselves up will only undermine their efforts.

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  18. I have a more redical suggestion. Instead of uselessly screaming at each other on Twitter, why not get out and talk the voters instead? Social media is the technological equivalent of a load of people standing in a room and screaming at the tops of their voices: you'll only hear your own voice and snatches of those of people in proximity to you. Nobody will ever change their mind because of a Twitter exchange; nothing great was ever said in 140 characters; and the sort of loonies who make a name for themselves on there (D Hothersall, anyone?) are probably not worth talking to if you met them in the pub, are they?

    It's time to step away from your keyboards and go outside to where the people are, folks. Indy won't be won by social media.

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    1. I partly disagree with that. Most 'real people' in this country are on Facebook, so political campaigns can be at least partly won on Facebook. I think it's fair to say the Yes surge in 2014 can be partly explained by Facebook.

      Twitter is a different beast, but contrary to popular belief there are some real people on Twitter as well. It's certainly an indispensable tool for anyone who runs a blog or website.

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  19. Glasgow Working Class 2January 12, 2017 at 7:09 PM

    Seems Mr Peter A Bell has a following and could be a poet or maybe is! A man who realises the truth. The Scottish people want the economic truth to be told to them if Scotland leaves the Union. Nice fancy words that appeal to the faithfull camp followers is not sufficient....The Nat sis have to be truthfull and tell the Scottish people that independence will mean economic competition with her neighbour.

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    1. Ach, it's plain your persuasive talents are wasted here. Were they turned down by the Brexit WTO team too?

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    2. Glasgow Working Class 2January 12, 2017 at 10:51 PM

      Are you sure?

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  20. First things first: independence.

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  21. Formulate official policy for an independent scotland, get an agreement on it, publish it and then the many speak with the one voice across the movement.

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    1. Glasgow Working Class 2January 12, 2017 at 7:52 PM

      That seems sensible, formulate official policy however we the Scots are waiting!
      The Nat sis are incapable of anything except hating the English.

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    2. Psychological projection

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  22. Hmm. My comment about mapping abuse with flags for either Unionist or Nationalist abuse seems to have disappeared. It included a url to show what I mean, which may be the cause, I guess.

    I wondered if there was anyone with sufficient ability to set this up. The results would be a bit like the map you can see at MappingPoliceViolenceorg. Obviously, there'd also have to be some sort of well publicised reporting system, or it would be pointless.

    This idea is the result of a radio piece on World Service, and includes the necessity for some sort of follow-up to ensure the reports are factual.

    I think this would be a useful tool for countering fake news about how nationalist abuse is sooo much more prevalent than unionist abuse.

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  23. WADR, James, this rings fairly hollow:

    "the first priority has got to be to stop ourselves from damaging the cause by knocking lumps out of each other."

    Since 2013 whenever I've heard complaints about high-profile campaigners who treat fellow Yessers badly online the names that come up have always been the same: Rev Stu, David Milligan and James Kelly.

    My own view is that you're not as bad as those other two, but you're no angel. I've witnessed many dozens of gratuitously aggressive responses from you here over the years.

    Get your own house in order and we'll maybe heed you more on these issues. In the meantime keep up the excellent work on the polls.

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    1. It's amazing that when someone posts a criticism like that, it's almost always done anonymously. Could I just gently say the following to you, Anon : I think you'll find that the vast majority of the people who complain about me "treating other Yessers badly online" were firmly in the so-called "tactical voting" lobby last year, in which case it's scarcely surprising that they were so unhappy about me pointing out again and again that they were deceiving people over how the electoral system works. They tried their level best to portray critics of the "tactical voting" stunt as mindless Sturgeon drones who were demanding that everyone had to vote SNP twice and were shouting down anyone who "does Yes differently" (Adam Ramsay had yet another go at pushing that angle in his poem only a couple of weeks ago), but it just doesn't wash, I'm afraid. I make no apology whatever for trying to prevent people from being misled about how the voting system works, regardless of the fact that the people doing the misleading were "fellow Yessers" (ie. Green and RISE supporters).

      I'd be interested to see some examples of my "dozens of gratuitously aggressive responses" - it's very easy to make a vague claim like that. I suspect that, again, you're mostly talking about me saying things that people simply didn't want to hear.

      I have absolutely no idea who David Milligan is, by the way, so I'm not sure whether I should be flattered or appalled by that comparison.

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    2. You told me to sling my hook james
      1. I was firmly in the so-called "tactical voting" lobby
      2. I was not "deceiving" people
      3. I did not accuse anyone of being a "mindless Sturgeon drone" I was an activist in the SNP before you were born.
      4. Perhaps it is these insults you seem to throw out at people btl is the point that Anon was making? look up irony James

      5. I asked people to vote tactically (green2) in fife and mid scotland, im so glad I did, since had all of the greens taken your "misleading" advice and voted snp2 in this area, it would have been another slab msp who would have won the 8th list seat.

      schrodingers cat

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    3. 1. Quite so. My point exactly.

      2. Hmmm. Are you absolutely sure about that? Almost everyone in the tactical voting lobby was misrepresenting the electoral system to some extent - the distortion was the whole basis of their case.

      3. The tactical voting lobby mostly consisted of Green and RISE supporters. You seem to be saying you're an SNP member? From that point of view, you were unusual, which of course would explain why you weren't throwing out any 'Dear Leader' jibes. It's worth noting at this point that most political parties in the UK actually expel people who openly admit voting against their party. It's a very good thing that the SNP have shown much more flexibility in that respect, but I do think it's worth reflecting on just how unusual it is to vote against a party that you're a member of. By the way, you have absolutely no idea when I was born.

      4. I must say you're sounding "gratuitously aggressive" there, SC.

      5. I'm absolutely thrilled for you that you possess a functioning psychic octopus. Most of us are not so blessed - which is precisely the problem with this whole "tactical voting" lark. The reality is that it's not tactical voting at all, it's gambling voting. Nobody is denying you might win a flutter now and again - it's when you guess incorrectly that the problems start.

      By the way, just for clarity, are you claiming that I actually used the words "sling your hook"? I'm not saying that's completely impossible, but I must have been at my absolute wit's end with you if I did.

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    4. James, yes you did and I only need to look in a mirror to know im quite a bit older than you. for the record, i was also calling for an snp 1 & 2 in the south region and was critical of the other indy parties even standing candidates on the list in that region, I dont think anyone needed a crystal ball make that prediction. but in the spirit of the article, lets move on. this thread serves no function. I agreed with your last article vis a vis the may elections coming up about tactical voting except I would have put more emphasis on the fact that the only voters who can really make a difference are the supporters of the smaller indy parties, in the interests of tactical voting :) will they be advising supporters to vote green 1 and snp 2&3 ?.
      Your site is necessary James, we need someone to highlight the "deliberate" failures in the questions posed in unionist polls, eg do you want indyref2 in 2017.
      Indeed, we need more polls done by people we can trust, you should consider crowd funding a few yourself.
      sc

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    5. the insults.... forget it James, Im pretty thick skinned and I give as good as I get
      It would be rich for schrodingers cat to complain about someone insulting him
      sc

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    6. "James, yes you did"

      Then, as I said, I must have been at my wit's end with you. "Sling your hook" is not something I go around saying lightly.

      "i was also calling for an snp 1 & 2"

      And there, right on cue, is the misrepresentation of the voting system I was talking about. There is no "1 and 2" in the Additional Member System.

      "I dont think anyone needed a crystal ball make that prediction"

      I can recall people saying they didn't need a crystal ball to say with absolute certainty that the SNP would win at least 65 constituency seats, and therefore wouldn't need any list seats at all.

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    7. Then, as I said, I must have been at my wit's end with you. "Sling your hook" is not something I go around saying lightly.

      I take that as an apology, :)

      aye, i meant snp/snp, kill me

      as I said, I dont think it serves any purpose to re run this argument. have a good weekend james

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    8. Your apology is accepted. Gentle word of advice - if you don't think it serves any purpose to rerun an argument, probably the most effective course of action is not to rerun the argument.

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    9. lol
      I wont

      but I will have the last word

      put up a crowd fund for an opinion poll and I will put in a donation mon ami. we need to know where we stand, where we are, where we are starting from. If it was you deciding the questions in the opinion poll, i think all of the yesser would take notice
      please at least consider this James,
      sc

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    10. Every time I've run a fundraiser, I've always said that if there are significant excess funds by the end of it, I would consider using that money to commission a poll. All of the fundraisers so far have met their target, but they haven't exceeded the target by enough to make the idea of a poll realistic.

      The money from the most recent fundraiser (the 2015 one) has completely run out now, so that's why I've been re-promoting it over the last couple of weeks in case anyone wants to make an additional donation. Over that period, more than £500 has been raised, which I'm incredibly grateful for, but obviously that kind of money will only stretch so far, and I'm using it for its primary purpose. In the unlikely event that there's an enormous influx of donations at some point, I'm still open to the idea of a poll. But I wouldn't hold your breath - we've got to be realistic about what crowdfunding can achieve. Stuart Campbell has raised enough for a few polls, but he has a significantly bigger readership.

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  24. i agree that it is the snp who are the engine which will get us to indyref2, no one else can, but once indyref1 started, we were at pains to avoid even mentioning the snp, i delivered greens and lfi and libdems for indy leaflets along with the yes bumph, but there was nothing with an snp logo on it. I believe this was done to combat the unionist propaganda that yes was nothing more than a front for the snp and to highlight the diversity of the yes, to show people that it wasnt just the snp. I think this is likely to happen again in indyref2 so in reality, it wont be the snp which leads indyref2. Of course, my snp branch didnt even meet or an entire year before the 18th sept 2014, we were all to busy delivering yes leaflets. So i'll say it again, it wont be the snp who lead indyref2, it will be YES
    SC

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    1. At the time Yes Scotland was set up, I wholly approved of the separation of the SNP and the rest of the Yes movement. I have been forced to reconsider in the light of subsequent developments. Not that I'm saying it was a mistake. At the time, it seemed like the sensible thing to do. And it was probably necessary. Then!

      But this is now. The next independence referendum campaign WILL NOT be simply a rerun of the first one. We have the benefit of experience now. It would be stupid not to take advantage of what we have learned - both from our own campaign and from the anti-independence effort. They won. something they did was effective. Let's learn from that.

      With hindsight we can see that the, sometimes very forceful, shunning of the SNP by the rest of the Yes campaign played right into the British establishment's demonising of the party. Because independence is inevitably and irrevocably associated with the SNP, we were effectively asking people to vote for them in one breath and saying we wanted nothing to do with them in the next.

      Separating the SNP and the Yes movement was a mistake. It created a weak spot which the British state - ever the masters of divide and rule - were able to take advantage of. With many on the Yes side showing themselves all too willing to be used.

      We must not make the same mistake again. The entire Yes campaign must embrace the SNP, not as a political party, but as the de facto political arm of the independence movement.

      The British nationalists will attack the SNP because they know that this is the most effective way to undermine the whole independence movement. As they did before, they will completely ignore the other pro-independence parties (OPIP) and organisations such as Labour for Independence and Women for Independence unless and until they can be used against the SNP. They will completely disregard everything people like Patrick Harvie say unless and until they say something that can be spun as a 'blow' to Nicola Sturgeon.

      That's realpolitik. We may not like it. But we're not going to change it. Certainly not in time for the coming campaign.

      Learning the lessons from all of this we must present a united front. Instead of joining in with the anti-SNP rhetoric, everybody in the Yes campaign should be defending the SNP to the very best of their ability. And if they can't, then they should just keep quiet. It simply makes no sense to damage the tool you need to get the job done.

      A lot of people don't like to hear this. Even as I write it, I'm not comfortable with it myself. In normal circumstances this kind of 'devotion' to a political party would be anathema to me. But these are not normal circumstances. So I urge everyone who is unequivocally and unconditionally committed to the cause of independence to avoid the customary knee-jerk reaction and just think about what I'm saying. If bringing our government home is important - which it certainly is - then it is surely worth the relatively small effort - sacrifice, if you will - of putting aside personal animosities, policy agendas and partisan loyalties for a year or so in order to win the prize.

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    2. interesting idea pete, but it was snp policy, even salmond dropped the snp from his designation in his signature. I suppose it depends where you are eg, the yes group where i am has lots of greens but no labour but lots of snp. It was the YES banner which enabled us to unite?. It still does. Im not sure that campaigning as yes rather than the snp is what lost us indyref1. I thought some of the most effective speakers were non snp in many cases because they werent snp, eg, Jeanne Freeman ripping brillo a new one during a DP's interview. But it is interesting idea which needs considering so i wont dismiss it out of hand.
      sc

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    3. Glasgow Working Class 2January 13, 2017 at 11:45 AM

      You lost because you had no firm policies on the economy, jobs and most importantly a currency. Kim Yung Eck saying do not worry everything will be all right is not a vote winner. I knew people who reluctantly voted NO simply because they had no confidence in what the Nationalists were saying. Put yourselves in the place of workers who were saying will I have a job in 18 months if I vote Yes!

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    4. Eat your cereal.

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  25. I would just like to state that I also consider James Kelly as a very balanced and polite figure.

    I feel that as people and blogs rise to some form of prominence in the community/debate,they might be overly tempted to consider themselves able to regulate or consider the regulation of the rest of that community. In microcosm, Mike Small seems to have gotten very large for his boots.

    What any 'separatist' collective might hope to do, or even that they would consider themselves qualified or able to do about "cybernat abuse" is frankly ridiculous in the extreme; and a prime example of a misguided sense of authority and/or importance.

    Why anyone would be too concerned about sections of or individuals within a diverse group, falling out, is over reaction.

    Certainly there are bloggers like Stu and James who are goto sources and they have real influence to persuade in volume. As highlighted by James, a falling out between them may lead to an important breakage in the Yes network, for example, James' placement on the Wings blocklist could mean a significant reduction in hits to his important site. That list itself is also a counter productive form and one might argue, is routed in falling out. Its automation is not good practice in my view. Counter productive; mainly as it damages what I consider a centrally important structure in this movement, which is the breadth/depth of our Yes network connectivity. Information passes faster and more efficiently through our network if we are more connected.

    Apart from those serious network breakages, there is less concern over the consequences of either cybernat activity or falling out. Cybernattism itself is a derogation created by our opponents. One detects that it is wielded by them in their relative impotence against our larger active online contingent. We should deny the beration and instead revel in our strength and passion; not stoop to naval gaze at our rude words and cower at the press who might report us. It is worth noting here that rudeness/cybernatism are elements of expression that the more refined contingent of this movement would naturally draw away from, even hold in some disdain or feel the need to regulate, because they themselves as wordsmiths or more professional oriented protaganists would shy away from that kind of behaviour.

    Certainly we know that support for the radical left movement is considerably smaller than the centre left positions. We might easily recognise that the radical left has been springboarded into undeserved prominence on the back of the Yes movement and the ease of setting up electronic encampements such as CommonSpace. Since much of the disruption comes from the radical left we may not be concerned about the magnitude of imagined consequences, which leads to the vital question. What are the practical consequences of these disputes in relation to independence? I would argue; very little.

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  26. I would argue that if attempting to get along resulted in us ignoring what the radical left, the Greens and the Yes press were doing over List voting; then the consequence could be very large. We might fairly speculate that the SNP lost their majority through a catastrophic failure in gaining List seats, due in some measure to the collective influence of the far left campaign and the Yes and No press to minimise the importance of SNP List voting. We are now dependent on the Greens to get that independence mandate. For me, James stood out here in openly rejecting the List voting views of the radical left such as Mike Small and the Yes press such as the Sunday Herald.

    The idea of asking folk to regulate their disputation in order for the differing strands of the "movement" to get along, is mawkish political correctness and unrealistic first of all. Secondly it attempts to dampen down legitimate complaint such as that rightly levelled against the promotion of RISE and the List voting nonsense that came with it; but noted that the Greens also punted that kind of misinformation. In general terms, it denies the very passion which brings all these diverse characters together in the first place.

    We will argue in the relative lull between referenda. Accept our human nature. Accept that we are passionate and that will lead to conflict and all sorts of expressions of that passion, literate and not so literate, crass and refined. Accept that we will all likely coalesce to yes voting in the end and that the vast majority will support the only vehicle to independence anyway....the SNP. I wouldn't want to restrain this outpouring of diverse expression. It is quite beautiful in fact. We act as if falling out never occurred until recently but that is not the case and our movement remains as Yes oriented online as it ever was.

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  27. In my opinion, the main problem with poor Bella was Mike Small and his ever-growing ego. If he is going Bella might become a better woman/site.

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    1. It looks like he isn't going after all. The whole thing has been a bit of a marketing ploy, it has to be said - Bella was closing, Mike was leaving, the financial situation was impossible, and then two days later Bella isn't closing, Mike isn't leaving, and the financial situation isn't as bad as all that. GA Ponsonby predicted that would happen, and he was right. If anyone has kept a screenshot of the Twitter account reading "Bella Caledonia 2007-2017 : Bella Caledonia was an online magazine..." it's going to look a bit silly in a couple of years' time. People will search the archives in vain for even a short interruption in service in 2017.

      There's still an enormous amount of goodwill towards Bella, but people are going to wise up to them eventually if they keep crying wolf with the "save Bella" stuff. This is the second year in a row they've done it (albeit this year has been even more extreme than last year).

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    2. Could it be speculated that these cries for help are somewhat coincident with the run up to an election ?

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  28. Glasgow Working Class 2January 13, 2017 at 9:51 PM

    Bella is needed. An asset for the Unionists.

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    1. Unlike you, operative.

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