MOST PEOPLE appear to have missed Stewart Hosie MP’s effusive eulogy of Wings Over Scotland recently. AhDinnaeKen certainly did. Given the timing and the recent rumpus over Campbell Gunn and his laughably amateur reliance on information, probably, gleaned from the Wings Over Scotland blog, we* thought Hosie’s praise was well worth a re-visit. AhDinnaeKen explains:
By Longshanker aka @ergasiophobe
STEWART HOSIE MP is a Nationalist who could easily be described as an asset to the independence cause.
Unlike some of his compatriots, he looks and acts the part of the competent, forthright, no nonsense politician – an unusual phenomenon amongst Nationalist politicians.
Throughout his political career he has steadily increased his authority and has moved up the ranks, achieving the position of SNP Deputy Leader (Westminster division). In contrast to some of his fellow MPs, it would be fair to describe him as ‘solid’ and a safe pair of hands.
His television appearances are always dealt with by him in a peremptory authoritative fashion which brooks no credible opposition to his forthright arguments.
And that’s what makes his praise of the “phenomenon that is Wings Over Scotland” so curious. For someone who gives such a measured impression, this unrestrained eulogising over such a toxic, intolerant and potentially dangerous blog site, is as breathtaking as it is misguided.
At a Courier newspaper sponsored indy debate, held earlier this month on June 5, Hosie effectively anointed Nationalist Front blog, Wings Over Scotland and, by proxy, its editor, Stuart Campbell.
Hosie said: (check around 27m 2os on video)
As AhDinnaeKen pointed out last week, such figures are based on Google Analytics reports. For those figures to be used in such a manner is a bona fide sham – a complete and utter misleading falsehood – deliberately peddled to give a false impression of the reach, readership and reputation of the blog.
So, just like Nationalist Spin Doctor, Campbell Gunn, Hosie has shown that he is also willing to be duped by Wings’ editor Stuart Campbell’s toxic brand of lies, inaccuracies, misinformation and propaganda.
Due to the sycophantically sympathetic and supine nature of the Wings blog regarding independence and its passively uncritical view of Nationalist actions at Holyrood, it’s easy to see why a mostly competent Nationalist politician like Hosie would be so willingly seduced by such meaningless figures and why he would perceive those “readership” figures as potential votes for Yes.
To compound his delight at this alleged grassroots upsurge of Nationalistic populism, Hosie went further in his praise of Wings:
“Now, whether you agree with them or not, the fact that the referendum has created so much interest, that a website like that is getting that kind of readership, that is quite spectacular.”
It would be “spectacular” if it was indeed getting that kind of readership. There’s no way of knowing what the actual readership figure is. And that’s why asserting such unverifiably false figures as “readership” and as a “phenomenon” fits so well into the common Nationalist narrative which mostly consists of bluster, belief and blind leaps of faith.
Curiously, Hosie’s portfolio at Westminster includes the role of Treasury spokesperson – a role, which according to the Parliament.UK website, he’s held since 2005.
It’s fair to conclude from this position that Hosie knows a lot about figures and how to disseminate them in a positive manner to reinforce the righteousness of his cause. It also explains why Hosie’s peddling of the figures disseminated by Wings, highlights a real weakness in the Treasury spokesperson’s alleged competence.
If Hosie could get the figures so spectacularly wrong with Wings without checking first, what else is he getting spectacularly wrong in his role as Treasury spokesperson? Did he verify or clarify those alleged readership figures from an independent source? Did he do the necessary groundwork? Or did he, take the information from the Wings blog as a given, without checking?
We* think we* should be told.
The parallels with Campbell Gunn’s rank amateur faux pas over the Clare Lally affair are clear to see. Both professional, political men appear to have been seduced and consequently duped by Wings unprofessional disingenuous innuendo. Both men, colloquially speaking, have made a right public arse of themselves by doing so. Hosie might just get away with it. The jury’s still out on Gunn.
Finally, we had the following supposition from Hosie, still on the subject of Wings – and to a lesser degree the other sites mentioned – where he engaged in a flight of futuristic fancy.
He said: “It will be interesting to see what happens, with all of those organisations and websites and Twitter feeds post-referendum – one way or another – to see if the community engagement and the activist engagement and these communities they’ve built, stay together and continue to do things.”
AhDinnaeKen wonders just what Hosie means by “continue to do things”. Perhaps he means “things” like the “creepy as f**k” coordinated surveillance of political opponents by Campbell from his flat in far away ‘gentrified’ Bath.
Campbell recently whined that he had been misrepresented by the Scotsman newspaper which reported that he “used the site to call on nationalist campaigners to photograph their opponents so that they can be publicly identified.”
Campbell bleated he’d been defamed by the Scotsman for reporting such and has allegedly instructed his lawyers to take requisite action. He has also allegedly complained to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). We*’re still laughing at the prospect.
His complaint hinges around the Scotsman claim that the purpose of his coordinated surveillance was to “publicly” identify individuals. Campbell claims that was never the purpose of his orchestrated surveillance “operation”. Though he did admit to the Stasi like collation of a “BIG file” on political opponents.
Technically, Campbell might force an apology from the newspaper, though we* remain highly sceptical. If he does win anything, it will be a pyrrhic victory, for he’ll have to admit to the PCC that he had indeed engaged in a coordinated mobilisation of his ‘alert readers’ to surveil members of the public going about their daily business. No matter how you look at those “kind of things”, the reaction of the average person in the street is almost always the same – they find such actions “creepy as f**k”.
Are these grassroot manoeuvres the kind of “things” Hosie envisions those “communities” will “continue to do”?
If it is, then it’s a potentially potent political disaster in the making. And it’s an eminently avoidable one. The Nationalist hierarchy should deal with it now before it gets out of hand which, as the Campbell Gunn saga has so readily demonstrated, it might.
The SNP/Yes campaign make great capital out of possessing the grassroot “foot soldiers” who are going to take the Yes message direct to the doors of the people of Scotland. Many of these “foot soldiers” are advocates of Wings Over Scotland’s brand of so called “truth”.
What reassurance can the likes of Stewart Hosie provide to the public at large that these “communities” of grassroots activists aren’t going to be taking pictures, or worse, of No voters or their houses and be reporting back to some distant location in Somerset?
It’s not outwith the realms of possibility that Yes ‘Mavens’ with their blue and white Yes vests will end up being seen as sinister. And that would be a shame.
In a recent FT profile on the Wings Over Scotland phenomenon, Campbell predicted the following reaction in the event of a No vote: “people will feel they haven’t so much been beaten so much as they’ve been cheated.”
It’s open to speculation the kind of action Campbell would take upon such a result. He’s already demonstrated that he can locate and place willing and active grassroot “goons” virtually anywhere on the ground in Scotland. So, technically, nobody’s outwith his reach, anywhere throughout the country.
And Campbell has previously demonstrated a level of petty vindictiveness which borders on the pathological: his wishing of “all” old soldiers dead, calling victims of the Hillsborough disaster “c**ts” to the sister of one of the 96 dead, falsely claiming that the editor of AhDinnaeKen had been arrested for some Walter Mitty like fantasy crime against him, and calling on the burning down of parliament if independence wasn’t achieved in September, are all directly attributable to his titanic temper tantrums.
All of these spiteful reactions occurred when something angered him, resulting in him lashing out disproportionately and without restraint. Who knows what he’ll be capable of if the referendum vote is a No. With his “BIG file” and his demonstrably unrestrained vengeful vitriolic vindictiveness, there is a real and present danger that something deeply unpleasant might just happen. We* hope that Stewart Hosie MP, Deputy Leader and Treasury spokesperson will be big enough to take his share of the responsibility if, and when, it does.
Hosie’s unrestrained praise for Wings took place after the coordinated surveillance “operation” had already occurred. Whether by accident or design, that means he has endorsed those “kind of things” as legitimate actions to engage in.
One of the accusations, rightly or wrongly, aimed at First Minister Salmond is that, by not sacking Campbell Gunn over his attempted smear of Clare Lally, he has effectively signalled that it’s open season for non-Yessers to be attacked without restraint – from the upper echelons to the lower grassroots.
Unless some kind of official statement is announced by the SNP regarding their relationship to Wings, with the intention of detoxifying Hosie’s effusive praise, then the signal is loud and clear: the Nationalists have declared a war of toxic hectoring abuse on their opponents. And, it’s likely to be perceived that they’re more than willing, like Salmond clearly demonstrated at FMQs, to turn a blind eye and ear to it.
Such a potential phenomenon fits some of the more well known and unpleasant stereotypes associated with Nationalism.
* pluralis majestatis used throughout in the pretence that we* still have an ironic sense of humour left