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Wings Over Scotland

Quoted for truth #6

Posted on February 04, 2013 by

This came out quite a few days ago, but didn’t get the attention it merited. Once again, we invite readers to ponder the “invisible hypothetical” of whether the Scottish media would have shown such complete disinterest in a piece of investigative journalism which revealed an elected representative of the SNP and some of its prominent activists discussing their own party’s complete uselessness.

We do accept that Scottish Labour being in shambolic disarray isn’t exactly hold-the-front-page stuff, and is in fact somewhere on a par with “Rain forecast for Hebrides” or “Scottish rugby team beaten at Twickenham”. But clearly the bar for headline stories is rather lower than it used to be, so you’d think it’d at least get a passing mention.

Alan Clinch, the instigator of the exchange above, is an interesting chap. He’s the treasurer of Motherwell & Wishaw Constituency Labour Party and a councillor for Murdostoun in North Lanarkshire, a place which sounds like it should be a neighbouring borough to Burnistoun but apparently isn’t.

Back in June 2011, before Wings Over Scotland existed, he wrote one of the only interesting articles ever to appear on Labour Hame, and in my capacity as a “Hamish McSeparatist” I dropped him a line that same day suggesting we might do something about it. We chatted a bit off and on over a few weeks, but never quite managed to agree on a format for a bipartisan discussion and “banter” site, the conversation tailed away and well, the rest is history.

I still agree with the core point of his article, and this site’s moderation policy is really all we can currently do to uphold the principle. We are not and don’t claim to be impartial, but nobody who comes here from the No camp in good faith has been or will be censored, and we do all we can to encourage commenters to treat others who express dissenting views as they would wish to be treated themselves, if there were any Unionist websites which actually allowed unmoderated comments without habitually block-deleting and banning supporters of independence.

We got back in touch with Alan Clinch, asking if he might like to discuss the subject in one of our debate features, but sadly didn’t get a reply. We hope he hasn’t been gagged by his party as punishment for the embarrassing leak.

It may be the case that the aim we both share – that of a place where nationalists and Unionists could enjoy a bit of lively to-and-froing and intelligent discourse without it being instantly soured by rancour and trolling – may be an impossible ideal, but we’d still love to see someone give it a try. Remember, folks – whoever wins in 2014, we all have to somehow get along afterwards.

The most workable concept we came up with between us back then was a Facebook page with a moderator from each party (or from the Yes and No camps), where abusive members would be banned but only on a unanimous vote. So we’re throwing that germ of a notion out there to see if it might possibly fall on fertile ground. We’re a bit too busy to do it ourselves now. But how about you?

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    17 to “Quoted for truth #6”

    1. RandomScot says:

      John Ruddy often goes around BTL on news.

      Interesting that his “We should promote our progressive policies!” statement above is followed by his “but we don’t have any”

    2. blunttrauma says:

      Labour officials are not so much “useful idiots”, as “useless idiots”.

    3. muttley79 says:

      Recognise John Ruddy from Guardian CiF.  He is always going on about Salmond. 

    4. Doug Daniel says:

      I’m afraid it IS an impossible ideal, Stu. There’s a simple reason why pro-indy websites are happy to let people say what they want, while unionist websites destroy all traces of dissent: the pro-union position simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. If there was a shared space for debating issues, independence would win every single time, simple as that. The reason unionists descend into abuse and bizarre circular reasoning is because deep down they know they can’t answer the points asked of them, so they resort to the political equivalent of “yer ma”.

      I expect anyone like Allan Clinch who tries to get involved in something that tries to bring the two sides on a common platform to debate properly would soon find themselves on the naughty step. It’s one thing to write navel-gazing articles about how Scottish Labour “must learn the lessons” or whatever most of the LabourHame articles were about (Douglas Alexander did it, so it’s okay for others to follow), but it’s quite another to open up the door to something that threatens the one tenet that Scottish Labour remains steadfastly committed to: getting a NO vote in 2014 to “damage the SNP”. Anyone doing that can expect a slapdown for challenging the party orthodoxy.

      Or, as is the case for Allan Grogan and the rest of Labour For Indy, turned into persona non grata.

      (I think you know all this already, though!)

    5. Iain says:

      These tweets were brought up on the CiF thread after Kevin McKenna’s latest piece. Hilariously at least one Labour stalwart was trying to suggest that the very act of making these tweets public was yet another example of vile Cybernattery, and that the delicate flowers involved should not have had their privacy violated.

    6. Vronsky says:

      There’s occasional speculation that the SNP will split after independence, but it’s interesting to consider the same scenario for Labour.  They have a left, a right, a pro-indy and an anti-indy.  It’s a fair guess that there’s  big overlap of the left and the pro-indy and I can’t imagine that these people will want to remain trapped in the unelectable carcase of New Labour after independence, waving tattered old Union flags and squealing for an end to universal benefits.  Will the left of the SNP and the left of Labour form a new progressive alliance post independence?  New Labour will disappear from Scotland but something will be left behind.

    7. muttley79 says:

      I think if there is a Yes vote then it can’t be long before those on the SNP left, such as Sandra White, discover there is not much point in remaining in the same party as those on the right of the SNP, such as Fergus Ewing.  Whether this happens immediately is probably unlikely.  It would more likely happen at the end of a first term.  There would likely be a new Scottish Labour Party, made up of those who had campaigned for independence, and maybe some others.

    8. Jeannie says:

      Typical Scottish Labour, I’m afraid.  They say they need new policies.  And why?  Is it to improve the lives of the people of Scotland?  Not at all.  Apparantly, they need new policies so they can try to put the SNP on the back foot.  And then they actually wonder why people don’t want to vote for them.  I think Alan Clinch and John Ruddy have expressed clearly what the biggest problem in Scotland is for them – not the independence referendum, not the EU, not the democratic deficit implicit in having the policies of a party you didn’t vote for inflicting grossly unfair policies and hardship on the people you supposedly represent, no, the most important thing to them is how to get one over on the SNP and get themselves back into power.  If Alan and John want to know why people are voting for the SNP and not for Scottish Labour, they need look no further than the content of their own communications for illumination.

    9. cath says:

      One of the things that makes me very hopeful about independence, at least initially, is that the SNP is such a broad church. I’m sure it will split after indy, with those on the left diverging from those on the right. But all those people will have worked, campaigned, drunk and debated together for decades – mostly on the losing side. Then had experience in a very difficult minority government, followed by one of the toughest campaigns possible, plus majority government. And will have finally won independence for their country together.

      So I suspect, regardless of differences and “splits” they will work very well together on opposing sides of “right, how do we get on and run our newly independent country now?” Added to them will be – hopefully – people like Allan Grogan and others who are pro-indy in other parties, or willing to embrace indy.  I’m very excited about what a new political spectrum could look like after independence, when the constitution is out the way and politicians can get on with arguing about how to make a better country.

    10. Jeannie says:

      It’s possible that people will go back to voting for the Labour Party again in an independent Scotland, but I think that’s unlikely unless Scottish Labour changes its ways.  At the moment, it’s clear they’ll say and do anything to get back into power, no matter how unfair, how misleading, how manipulative and how downright untrue.  Nothing matters more to them than the Party, its continued existence and its lust for power. There was once a time for Labour when it was about being the Party of the People.  Nowadays it’s just about being the People of the Party.  The electorate can see this simple truth.  It’s a pity that the Labour Party can’t.  And until it wakes up, I don’t think there’s much chance of it being elected to govern in Scotland, independent or otherwise.

    11. Davy says:

      I have to agree with Cath about the SNP being such a broad church, which helps make the road to independence so very exciting.

      I honestly dont see the SNP splitting into the different formats thats being suggested after independence and my reasons are many of us like being part of such a broad church, because regardless of how left or right or centre we may feel, the fact is we are all prepared to put that to one side for the benefit of Scotland & our families , first and foremost and that feels good and feels right. 

      This is a fact / feeling the unionist parties mostly dont get, what we are doing here is not for ourselves and our party, its for our families, our friends, our children and grandchildren, its for the future of our nation.

      And thats needs a broad church with broad minds and attitudes, and thats why the SNP and Scotland has us.

      Enjoy this journey, as after independence there is even greater ahead.

      Hail Alba Gu snooker loopy!

    12. pictishbeastie says:

      Pedantic point Rev. but there’s no such thing as a “borough” in Scotland. I think the word you’re looking for is burgh! 

    13. AnneDon says:

      There was a Facebook page that was moderated by both sides;  the idea was that debate could be had.

      Then, a couple of weekends ago, a unionist moderator banned all the indy ones! 

    14. Christian Wright says:

      “There was a Facebook page that was moderated by both sides;  the idea was that debate could be had.

      Then, a couple of weekends ago, a unionist moderator banned all the indy ones! “


      Consider that since the Unionists cannot articulate a substantive positive case for Scotland  remaining in the Union, their only recouse is to sew fear, uncertainty, and doubt. That of course is precisely what they do. They have no other option.

      Given the foregoing, no self respecting Unionist shill with a functioning cerebral cortex would get into a dialog where the rules require they be respectful towards others of a different view on independence.

      If your only hope of winining involves the carpet bombing of your opponents until the are ground to powder, why on earth would you entertain the notion of actually jaw-jawing with them when needs must require you war-war?

      The only exception would be as a PR exercise to give the appearance of a desire for thoughtful civilized debate. Anus Sanwar MP, employed the 3-day abbreviated form of this tactic recently when cornered (on Newsnicht memory serves), where he had to be seen to agree with Sturgeon that we must raise the level of debate.

      I do become concerned sometimes when independence-minded folks who are otherwise very savvy, exhibit alarming presenting symptoms of clinical naïvety. The danger is if this infection took hold we will kumbaya ourselves all the way to a crushing defeat in November 2014 (note the new time line )

      The edge we have as Nationalists is that we can present a substantive positive vision for Scotland as an independent state. We therefore CAN conduct a positive campaign. However, that does not mean we should ignore or neglect to deploy counter-measures against media-supported Unionist black propaganda.

      This is turning into a war of attrition and we will have to be prepared to do a little strategic bombing of our own.



    15. Jen says:

      I find it hard to believe in Labour politicians, they seem out for themselves and more concerned with power than people.  Sometimes, I think these type of people, don’t believe in what they are saying.  Just going through the motions of unionism and service to westminister. 


    16. Cameron B says:

      @ Christian Wright
      I know that you are talking in metaphors, but will the unionists recognise this? I can just see the headlines that might follow; “Cybernats Call for Terrorist Assault Against Homeland”, or “Britain On High Security Alert As Cybernats Declare War.” Your point is well made though, and I hope the Yes team start countering the Unionist offensive before it is too late.

      I am also quite surprised that people appear shocked that a politician principally seeks power, before anything he/she might profess to support.

    17. John Lyons says:

      Sorry to go O/T but the BBC is open for comments.

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