We were hugely excited earlier on today to receive news of a long-hoped-for team-up between two of our very favourite people on the internet: catastrophically thick Daily Express hack Siobhan McFadyen and popular lawsuit enthusiast JK Rowling.
What we hadn’t expected was a starring role.
The alliance in question took the form of an article in today’s Sunday Express.
The unmeasurably wealthy author has apparently recently found herself with nothing better to do with her life than create misleading collages of allegedly abusive social media comments (almost none of them directed at her), often presented wildly out of context, in her ongoing crusade to prove the vileness of anyone who wants Scotland to elect its own governments.
In McFadyen’s article, a selection are presented, again bereft of any context, as proof that Yes supporters are anti-English racists.
Bizarrely, the article claims that the tweets have been posted “since the SNP’s decision to hold another vote”, a decision which exists only in the mind of Siobhan McFadyen, but which we assume must notionally refer to events of two weeks ago, when the First Minister announced a new draft bill to go with a public consultation on the subject.
No screenshots or links to the offending tweets are included in the article for anyone to verify them. Two of the first three that are quoted do not appear if you search Twitter for them, although it’s of course possible that they were subsequently deleted.
The next one in the Express piece is dated not from two weeks ago, but from almost 15 months ago, in mid-August 2015:
It’s certainly not very friendly and could arguably be considered to be very vaguely threatening, but it was a reaction to an extremely inflammatory original comment from Robinson and certainly doesn’t contain a single syllable that even the most sensitive person could construe as “anti-English racism”.
The next one is also from last August, and we can’t make head nor tail of it.
We can’t tell what “ComediansForYes” is objecting to in the tweets they’ve quoted, but in any event their harsh words are directed at “Unionists” with no mention of anyone’s nationality. But then things get interesting.
As it happened, we recognised that one.
From more than a year ago, we’d be the first to admit that’s not a particularly nice tweet. We were evidently in a bad mood that afternoon. But alert readers may recall that as well as being supposedly featuring RECENT tweets, the article claims to be about exposing “anti-English racism”, and plainly that tweet contains nothing of the sort. It’s obviously grumping at old Scottish voters.
McFadyen and Rowling’s grand dossier of vile anti-English racist abuse following the (wholly non-existent) announcement of a second indyref, then, hasn’t come up with a solitary verifiable example so far. Most of the comments don’t seem to actually exist, and the few that do have had nothing whatsoever to do with “the English”.
In the desperate attempt to prove the point, though, much worse is to come.
Hello! That’s us again, in part of a tweet not from two weeks ago but from July 2012, which chronologically-alert readers will note is more than FOUR YEARS ago. And the words “part of” are somewhat key, as you’re about to see.
Rowling and McFadyen have cut the last six words (including the vital “cont’d”) out of the first half of the tweet, and omitted the second half entirely. And they’ve done that because including them would have revealed that the tweets had absolutely nothing to do with either English people OR Scottish politics.
They were in fact a sarcastic, ironic comment about John Terry’s successful defence tactics in a case accusing him of racism, of which he’d been cleared that same day.
So far, however, McFadyen and Rowling are merely being spectacularly dishonest. Of “more than 20” allegedly abusive anti-English and racist users, cherry-picked from tweets spanning close to half a decade, only FOUR people have actually been verified in the article as existing at all, and NONE of them has posted so much as a single comment even remotely interpretable as “anti-English racism”.
But what follows is on a whole other level.
From the preceding text, that can only possibly refer to us – or to be more precise, me. (“TrueYesser” gives their location as Livingston, “OorAliciaMurray” as Glasgow and “ComediansForYes” only as Scotland. I’m the only person “domiciled in England”.) Anyone reading it with any passing knowledge of Scottish politics will know who it is.
(Hilariously, Siobhan McFadyen is so epically, weapons-grade stupid that she thinks you can defame people freely as long as you don’t print their actual name. In fact the law merely requires that they be identifiable from the information published – otherwise you could say something awful and illegal about “Bavid Deckham” and get away with it because that’s not his name.)
And that statement isn’t just misleading or distorted, it’s a flat-out defamatory lie.
Now, “hateful abuse” itself is an eye-of-the-beholder term – one man’s hateful abuse is another man’s lawful expression of legitimate anger. But the claim that I “encourage others” to post abusive comments is utterly without foundation. The last time anyone made a similar claim they withdrew it sharpish and handed over several thousand pounds by way of apology.
We utterly refute the allegation that this site or myself has EVER encouraged anyone to abuse or harass anyone. We consider such behaviour entirely counter-productive and discourage it at all times. Rowling and McFadyen are liars. If they have a scrap of evidence to the contrary, we invite them to produce it.
Otherwise, the Daily Express will be hearing from us.