Wings Over Scotland and the poverty porn vanity project of champions

WINGS OVER Scotland’s Stuart Campbell did an allegedly good and kind thing recently. Donning the cloak and mantle of a philanthropic samaritan, he ran an Indiegogo fundraiser with the intention of helping a recently convicted thief pay her draconian court case fees and fines. But is this ‘act of kindness’ anything other than a tokenised “gesture” of narcissistic self promotion and fetishised poverty porn? AhDinnaeKen investigates:

Self promotion and chastising of the Scottish media in one Tweet. Result!

Self promotion and chastising of the Scottish media in one Tweet. Result!

“There is a place where kindliness and charity tips into narcissism and self-promotion.” – Eric Joyce – Wings Over Scotland contributor.

By Longshanker aka @ergasiophobe

STUART CAMPBELL of Wings Over Scotland elevated his status to that of social media sainthood recently.

At least, he did so, in the eyes of his more gullible followers and supporters.

The “kind” “reverend” organised an Indiegogo appeal to raise funds needed to pay convicted thief, Louisa Sewell’s, court fees.

Those with a more sceptical eye may have spotted a few things ‘not quite right’ about the “reverend’s” alleged benevolence.

According to Campbell, as soon as he became aware of Sewell’s predicament, he was so overcome with compassion he felt compelled to do something.

“Help make it happen for a small gesture of solidarity and Stuart Campbell!” ran the heart tugging mendicant styled phraseology at the bottom of Campbell’s Indiegogo fundraiser page.

Help make it happen - for Stuart.

Help make it happen – for Stuart.

A somewhat curious choice of wording, given the beneficiary of the charitable donations is supposed to be Sewell, not Campbell

Perhaps, like many, we’re missing something by the phrase “make it happen for… Stuart Campbell’. Perhaps not. It’s the first of many indicators that Campbell’s so called “gesture of solidarity” was nothing other than an onanistic exercise in vainglorious “narcissism and self-promotion”.

A quick trawl of the Wings timeline revealed that the fund had been set up with no contact having taken place between Campbell and Sewell or Sewell’s lawyer.

A curious state of affairs, considering that the “kind” “reverend” should choose to champion her without at least the courtesy of seeking her permission to do so beforehand.

Some might call it arrogant presumption on Campbell’s behalf. Others would see it for what it is…

Effectively, Campbell’s action has stripped the unfortunate Ms Sewell of any dignity she may have had left by making her a widely publicised “charity” case – whether she chose to be the recipient of his ‘charitable’ act or not.

Indeed, it’s a full-on tip of the hat to the dark side of neo-Dickensian Victoriana, where Campbell is publicly parading his charitable acts and expecting plaudits for doing so – witness the allegedly humorous tweet chastising the Daily Record and Daily Mail (above).

Tasteless and exploitative at best, calculated and manipulative at worst.

What’s most curious though and serves as a demonstration of the double standards, bordering on criminal stupidity, of Campbell’s alleged “media monitoring” role is the “facts” the papers missed out.

In a Wings blog Campbell wrote, “We explained this site’s most fundamental purpose as being to teach people how to read between the lines and spot what isn’t being said.”

There are quite a few important things which aren’t being said in the original story reported in The Kidderminster Shuttle newspaper.

Anyone with a modicum of emotional intelligence might have found out the answers before becoming a public champion of the poor hungry benefits victim forced to steal confectionery to feed herself.

According to the Shuttle, Ms Sewell stole a pack of Mars bars because her benefits had been sanctioned and she had been hungry for days.

Missing information i.e. “what isn’t being said” includes the following:

  1. Unemployment in Kidderminster is very low at approx 2 per cent of the working population (ONS figures). What was Ms Sewell sanctioned for?
  2. What circumstances led to Ms Sewell being hungry for days? (aside from the obvious).
  3. Sewell’s solicitor claimed in court Sewell had no one to turn to. Why didn’t she visit Kidderminster’s Salvation Army? They do food parcels for those in need and it’s less than 600m away from the Kidderminster Jobcentre.
  4. The original report said that Sewell had received Foodbank vouchers. The Kidderminster foodbank is approx 100m away from the Jobcentre. When was Sewell issued with the vouchers and why couldn’t she visit the foodbank? The shop the Mars bars were stolen from – Heron Foods – is approximately 200m away from the Jobcentre and the foodbank is on the way.
  5. The Kidderminster Shuttle reported the magistrate as saying: “We do not readily accept you go into a shop to steal just for being hungry.” What else was said by the Magistrate in summation before sentencing? One sensational and emotionally charged line in a local newspaper is hardly enough to provide the full picture.
  6. Does Sewell have previous convictions for theft or crimes of dishonesty? There is no mention anywhere of this pertinent fact.
  7. Campbell claimed in follow up newspaper reports that Sewell “was failed by society on so many levels and at so many points down the line it’s just horrific.” How could he tell from the condensed ‘news value’ information provided by the Kidderminster Shuttle report?

For someone who claims to “teach” people to “read between the lines and spot what isn’t being said”, Campbell made some heavily amateurish and clumsy presumptions in his kneejerk sentiment based reaction.

Indeed, benefit sanction ‘victim’ stories provide archetypal emotionally charged ground for propagandists like Campbell to exploit and manipulate for their own self-serving purpose: anger coupled with maudlin sentiment masquerading as civic pride and noble expressions of collective identity.

Courtesy and etiquette doesn't even come into it.

Courtesy and etiquette doesn’t even come into it.

Opportunism plays its part, of course, as does a Nationalist mindset where the fate of Ms Sewell isn’t anywhere near as important as the opportunity to chastise the ‘evil’ UK welfare system and the Scottish media – all fundamentally underpinned by Campbell’s calculated self-promotion and narcissism.

Perhaps AhDinnaeKen is being too sceptical. We know through practical experience and numerous examples, just how brutal, unjust and uncaring the current welfare system can be on some of the most vulnerable people in society.

But it’s just such opportune circumstances which allow extremists like Campbell to cynically manipulate and play with people’s emotions in order to achieve their self-serving aims.

If Ms Sewell truly is a poor victim then, to a degree, it’s all well and good that her draconian court fees and fines are going to be paid for her.

However, anyone thinking Campbell’s fundraiser was about the fate of Louisa Sewell needs to think again. It was always about Campbell.

As his Tweets and posts prove, Sewell’s story is the sideshow. The star attraction is Campbell himself. Take a look at the collective and maudlin expressions of thanks aimed at him if you find that hard to believe.

Poverty porn fetishism serves only the purveyors.

Who’s the real beneficiary of this story? Hint, it isn’t Louisa Sewell.

Who's going to monitor the media monitoring the media. Melissa would be hopeless at it.

Who’s going to monitor the media monitoring the media? Melissa would be hopeless at it.

 

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11 Comments

Filed under CyberNats, Opinion, Wangs Watch

11 responses to “Wings Over Scotland and the poverty porn vanity project of champions

  1. See Above

    Nothing wrong with being motivated to help others, but…

    A media monitor should at least understand a plea of mitigation is not the same as the actual narrative of events, something the Kidderminster Shuttle is guilty of too.

    Any journo worth their salt would ask why someone was charged over such a seemingly trivial offence in the first place. How was she caught? Identified?

    A Ms Louisa/Louise Sewell of the same address has been charged with other, more serious, offences before, according to the Shuttle.

    If there are convictions for those offences, which the Magistrate would be aware of, then she could actually be used – unwittingly – as a stick to beat other claimants with.

    It’s icky, which is why, hopefully, the Scottish press have kept their distance from it.

    She does seem in need of help, but doubt this fundraiser is the kind she really needs.

    • As you say, nothing wrong with helping others…

      But, as the piece illustrates, too many unanswered questions concerning the circumstances.

      It comes back to the question – who is the real beneficiary of this story?

      Regards

  2. See Above

    Well, obviously, if he felt that strongly he could have paid the fine out of his 100K and not asked his readers to foot the bill.

    But it’s still the most reverend-like behaviour we’ve seen from him (other than the Jim Jones sort of reverend, that is).

  3. Excellent!

    And even ignoring the Louisa Sewell dimension, the reports (or at least the ones I’ve read) don’t provide anything like the proper background, and to that extent don’t provide the reader with the context which demonstrates the politically motivated nature of the whole thing.

    Instead of stating that Wings/Campbell is vehemently anti-UK/Tory/Labour/Westminster and pro-SNP/iScotland, and to that extent letting the reader draw their own conclusions, he’s portrayed as a kindly and charitable man of the cloth acting selflessly and with little other motivation that to do a good deed.

    That’s precisely why his fake Rev title always seemed fundamentally dishonest – people assume their dealing with someone who isn’t quite as he’s portrayed.

    So some people commenting on the articles are asking if the church is condoning theft, for example, and even most of those not specifically mentioning the religious aspect will be assuming he’s something he’s not.

    Of course, as per usual if the tables were turned the ‘Rev’ would be having a field day as the media monitor, but since he’s the one benefitting from the misleading portrayal here then that’s OK.

    Almost as ridiculous as that Kenny Farq thing when the proper journalist was apparently deeming Scots stupid and wasn’t respecting the democratic process because it didn’t provide the result he wanted, when of course when the 2010 general election didn’t go Campbell’s way he had some choice words on the voters, and I also get the impression he doesn’t like the way the voters considered the independence question last year.

  4. marko

    You’re a dismal specimen, aren’t you? Five seconds of effort would have shown you that EVERY Indiegogo page has an automatic footer that says either “Help make it happen for [project title] and [person]!” (if a sole person is named as organiser), or “Help make it happen for [project title] and the team!” (if more than one person is named).

    Your petty, obsessive, jealous hatred of Campbell is normally sort of amusing, but you’re just embarrassing yourself here in trying to twist someone raising £15,000 for foodbanks into a terrible thing.

  5. Meant to say as well that that’s probably why the Scottish press have given the thing more of a bodyswerve than some elsewhere. They know the motivation and background, and are thus aware that when it’s contextualised the thing is not quite so newsworthy.

    In turn, though, that provides another excuse for grievance-mongering and othering the Scottish media.

  6. Fred

    If they pay her fine, where is the rest of the fundraising money going? Into the rev’s pockets probably.

  7. Alec

    Will we see the receipts from Wangs?

  8. Pingback: Exclusive: Wings Over Scotland’s philanthropy set to implode | AhDinnaeKen

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