The world's most-read Scottish politics website

Wings Over Scotland

The fifth column

Posted on August 10, 2013 by

Earlier this week, mad Labour activist Ian Smart posted a tweet – now deleted – in which he referred to Labour For Independence as “fifth-columnists”. (Which caught our eye as Labour types unfailingly leap on any renegade cybernat types intemperately denouncing Unionists as “traitors” or “Quislings”.)


But the phrase reminded us of something Labour like to keep pretty quiet. Their own camp is divided into not just supporters of devolution and independence (and undecideds), but also contains a sizeable faction of prominent voices who don’t just want to freeze devolution in its current position, but demolish it entirely.

In the light of this week’s poll results, let’s not forget them.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

107 to “The fifth column”

  1. Les Wilson says:

    This is the message we need to get across constantly, but I think our alternative needs to always be in view in the same articles in order to show no doubt on the status and improvements that will be lost in a NO VOTE!

  2. Kendomacaroonbar says:

    Michael Kelly’s comments give me the heebies

  3. balgayboy says:

    Apologies for O/T But I think it’s relevant: Just queried NNS on their “squeaky clean” Admin, unfortunately got my comment dumped as well as my request why? What the hell is going on with these people. Spent a lot of cash supporting these lot but certainly no more now. Query below:
    # balgayboy 2013-08-10 12:52
    Why has my comment and polite query been removed from the NNS comments? I do not think I have broke any house rules and considering the financial support I have donated to NNS over time I would have thought some kind of reasoned response would have been appropriate and respectful. Is there some problem out there?

  4. Seasick Dave says:

    If that lot doesn’t put you off your lunch then nothing will.
    Top picture shows the Curious Fringe.

  5. wullie says:

    I will print the photos and words and put them every where I can. On the train,, cafe, bus, restaurant, bus stop, train station, doctors surgery, work place etc. And anywhere anyone else can think of

  6. mealer says:

    Vote YES for a better Scotland.

  7. HandandShrimp says:

    Kelly and Wilson are notable anti-devolution hard liners. Both happy to see Tri-colours waved at club matches horrified by Saltires and self determination. I’m not even going to pretend I understand because I care what they think even less.

  8. Jimbo says:

    Wilson’s comment sums these people up adequately: …a disaster for the Labour Party.
    There you have it, their country’s weal comes way down in their list of priorities – self and party first.

  9. Barontorc says:

    balgayboy – join the club of unwanted. The torrent of comments on NNS has become a trickle and I recall the days when it was in the several hundreds.
    There’s no way we should not be supporting a pro-independence site, but what can you do when you’re positively discouraged to do so, the door’s just shut in your face and no reply to any query as to why?
    Something very significant happened within NNS about a year ago and sorry to say it has gone backwards since. Sad really.

  10. Morag says:

    What happened to Wilson anyway?  He was such a firebrand in his youth that he published a pro-independence pamphlet that was so extreme Salmond said that it would have been his unhappy duty to throw him out of the SNP if it had happened recently.

    How does anyone change that much?

  11. Angus says:

    The photos remind me of badly made up extras from a 1930’s Tod Browning horror movie, except the black and white pics of the ’30’s are an improvement.
    The british establishment will close ranks even more so than when defending the tired union to remove powers from the Scottish Parliament if we are daft enough to vote like pigs for a gammon christmas in 2014 so let’s not be in any doubt about that one.

  12. handclapping says:

    I dont know if “, or” cuts it in todays ungrammatical universe. I am afraid that it would make it clearer to use the Americanism “and / or” to show the conjunction of the two poll answers. Of course as we’d not be allowed to use English after a Yes vote we’ll have to get used to speaking a foreign language.

  13. Angus says:

    Newsnet is fine-it isn’t so important to have your comments over the article content which is the important part, I have no problem with Newsnet or any pro Independence effort.

  14. Barontorc says:

    Rev – Let’s make this a flyer and get it into every household with the panelbase poll analysis.
    Lot’s of suggestions as to how to reach out to the un-informed/dont’knows. Make up a 4 page – easy-read insert pack that local groups can fund and get delivered with their local paper.
    We cannot let these absurd comments go without blasting them out of the water.

  15. HandandShrimp says:

    They are all household names, I’m sure Cochrane, Forsyth and Foulkes have also uttered similar madness. There is no shortage of this stuff.

  16. Morag says:

    Newsnet is fine-it isn’t so important to have your comments over the article content which is the important part, I have no problem with Newsnet or any pro Independence effort.

    It’s OK, but it could be better.  I don’t like the anonymity of so many of the contributors and all the administration, and their total lack of interaction with the readers.  It’s not friendly in the least.

    I also don’t like the “out-Scotsman the Scotsman” spin in so many articles.  I can see why they do it but it’s not really constructive.  I don’t like the absence of attribution or links to source material.  It’s “we say this so trust us”, and frankly I don’t.

    I don’t like their absolute refusal to accept corrections or clarification on anything they’ve published.  People who get it wrong should be prepared to fix it.

  17. balgayboy says:

    @Barontorc says:
    Got to agree, financial supported NNS for the last few years and have lately been disappointed by their somewhat “eh’m scared” moderation. Unfortunately not the website that it intially proclaimed to be.
    10 August, 2013 at 1:38 pm


  18. Jimbo says:

    Balgayboy + Barontorc: Ditto.
    For some reason completely unknown to me, all of my comments are now moderated. A polite message asking why was ignored. It has greatly changed from the place it used to be – so much so that I rarely go there now. Strangely enough, my donations were never moderated.

  19. kininvie says:

    O/T Posted also on a previous thread:

    @ Rev Stu
    We’re in danger of having a lot of good ideas getting lost at the bottom of comment threads to posts that have long been superceded.
    If the readers of this site are moving into active phase with flash mobs and light shows, we need somewhere to organise
    Can you give us a page (like ‘quarantine’) where we can go and fix things up among ourselves? It can certainly stay under Zany comedy relief – as that is what it will be.

  20. Murray McCallum says:

    Excellent poster.
    The dissolution of the Scottish Parliament will be an essential step, for example, in the universal introduction of £9,000 per annum student tuition fees.  Looking at it from the Westminster Conservative and Labour viewpoint, austerity has to be ramped up.  The Scottish Parliament is getting in the way of this.

  21. NorthBrit says:

    @the premoderated
    If you want to experiment with censorship, why not take a trip to Thick Scotland’s laughably named “Today’s Thinking” section and attempt to leave a comment on Euan **** McColm’s “let’s all stop being so beastly (but mainly you nasty cybernats)” article.

  22. balgayboy says:

    @Jimbo says: 1.53pm
    That’s what has happened to me as well, I was never insulting or derogative, just shut down! never a moderation on my donations btw. No courtesy to respond.  OK just got to move on and leave the “eh’m feart” behind.


  23. Ted says:

    As regards Michael Kelly’s remarks, perhaps the councils should be “eroded” and abolished after independence.  Scottish Labour would then need to concentrate on the needs of Scotland instead of Westminster.  Too many councils have become uselessly incompetent under Labour and a Scottish Parliament could easily carry out all the functions the councils presently provide.  Think of the extra money for services! 

  24. Peter says:

       What’s wrong with calling a ("Quizmaster" - Ed) a ("Quizmaster" - Ed).  And blair mcdougall is certainly a ("Tractor" - Ed) by any normal definition of the word. A man who would see his country destroyed for a large bank balance.

  25. HandandShrimp says:

    I do like some of the NNS articles but I stopped participating a good while ago. I don’t see the point of complaining about BBC moderation (which they do a lot) and then moderating the bejaysus out of their own supporters and contributors. The Guardian removes anything overtly off topic and libellous but it does allow a frank exchange of views. NNS could easily have done likewise. Shame, but it is no skin off my nose, there are other sources like here where I feel more at home.  

  26. Yesitis says:

    Rev – Let’s make this a flyer and get it into every household with the panelbase poll analysis.
    Put names to faces and put their words in front of the electorate. Their words will change opinions.

  27. Seasick Dave says:

    Is this slag Newsnet Scotland Day?
    Who knew?

  28. ianbrotherhood says:

    @kininvie (2.00)-
    Agreed. A separate thread that doesn’t carry the stigma of ‘Quarantine’. Could also serve as a store for useful contacts, notices of imminent events etc.

  29. ianbrotherhood says:

    re Michael Kelly’s remarks-
    These ‘professional’ politicians are well experienced in speaking to an ‘imagined’ voter, the hypothetical punter they want to get their message to.
    Who on earth does Kelly ‘think’ he’s talking to?

  30. CameronB says:

    One thing we should be grateful for though, and that is the unionist campaign’s willingness and eagerness to provide us with ammunition. I don’t see this drying up soon.
    Re. NewsNet. I don’t visit there since being banned from posting, for repeatedly pointing out factual errors in their reports. At least I think that was the reason, as I never received an explanation. I can’t imagine it would have been for any else, apart from possibly when I suggested the Ribbentrop Prize and the Goebbels Medal for outstanding contributions made by the MSM. 🙂
    Perhaps I am just too comfortable with the idea of independence?

  31. balgayboy says:

    Seasick Dave says: 2.13 pm
    Never wanted to be that, but sometimes opinions must be opined regardless of loyalties to a cause. Only asking fair questions should not be ignored/shut down by a website proclaiming the same aim as the questioner.

  32. gordoz says:

    Wilson. Kelly, Think Britland
    Perhaps the title Unionists should be dropped as they are better categorized as the Loyalists they are to their cause; (I know it grates but lets be honest).

  33. handclapping says:

    Everybody is on moderation at Newsnet unless known to the management. You may have noticed it is a rather different site to this. I would never start anyone new to the idea that there is a different view to that of the MSM here. Newsnet is a much more comfortable introduction to the idea that there is an alternative and is in a “trusted” newspaper format. Just think of all the people who have introduced themselves as having lurked here for a year before commenting. We may think Wings wonderful but that is only because we are us. 🙂

  34. colin mccartney says:

    When did Dalyell and Kelly die and get embalmed ??????

  35. Juteman says:

    There must be something wrong with you if you aren’t banned from NNS. 🙂

  36. CameronB says:

    I was hoping no one here would notice. 🙂

    Sorry, misread the above. Doh.

  37. HandandShrimp says:

    Seassick Dave
    Don’t want to slag NNS because they do some good stuff but I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t chased off their boards either.

  38. handclapping says:

    @colin mccartney
    When did Dalyell and Kelly die and get embalmed ?
    They’re not dead yet but Labour needs them to keep the numbers up. See Keep Young and Beautiful in Dad’s Army Series 5

  39. pictishbeastie says:

    Just had a wee look at NNS, a thing I do less and less often these days, and a comment by “Admin” about the use of “childish phrases such as Westminster” really does sum up to me their incredibly high handed and sanctimonious attitude of late. It really is a shame though, as it used to be such a good site. I’ve supported them financially in the past but certainly won’t be again unless they screw the nut. 

  40. jim mitchell says:

    REV, not up on the legal side of things, but do you (or anybody else), Know of any reason why we couldn’t print of our own copies of the picture of those Labour worthies  and their comments to use for leaflets?

  41. david says:

    i want to be absolutely clear that what it is i am saying is… the debate regarding the debate has to be made and taken to the debating chamber where a debate can take place debating the policies i have made absolutlely clear in my last debate. my real concerns  address the mature debate i want to have debating the future of carers in my constituency, they tell me they want to debate these issues too. the big issues need to be debated but the vile snp refuse my proposals to debate the debate on the issues i am so clear about. In my constituency i am told every day about the terrible terrible lives people live, i want to debate this, this is a serious matter and only a debate on the clear issues will suffice. there are a “serious” of questions i want to test, by debating obviously but those lying bstards in the snp  are too busy killing babies to debate me seriously.. i want to make the tough decisions that allows a debate on issues that need debated. this something for nothing society has no idea how important a debate is to the very future of our country which on the whole is something i am very clear about.  I am a great believer in ending poverty and my call for a debate will finally end child poverty worldwide.  etc etc etc

  42. Jimbo says:

    Seasick Dave:
    Is this slag Newsnet Scotland Day?
    No, Dave, not by me – I consider them an asset to the independence movement. I’m merely passing comment on their current stance re posters.
    Much has changed since the early days of Online Ed and Alex Porter. That was a time when when the comments sections were more like WoS. People could interact through either the comments section or the forum, share ideas, pass on information, download posters/car stickers and keep each other up to date with what the other side were up to. You could even be critical or tongue in cheek, for goodness sake. It was also a time when, if you sent a polite message, you received a reply. I don;t think it has changed for the better. However, that’s just my opinion. Obviously the people who are now running it think otherwise and know better.

  43. tartanfever says:

    Picking up on what a few have mentioned about printing leaflets, I’d like to hear the Rev’s comments on it.
    It can’t be that expensive to print, and the rest is just a case of distribution and co-ordinating leaflet drops amongst ourselves. If the Rev used the Wings logo and website address it would be extremely interesting to see what happened to the visitor numbers here.
    The poll showing only 7% had heard of Wings is a taste of reality. Yes, the Rev does a great job and the numbers he achieves are impressive, but with millions of voters in Scotland we’ve got a long way to go.
    It’s the most effective way I can think of getting the word out and the idea of building up a distribution network amongst ourselves would be very useful.
    Just out of interest, what is the deal with campaigning and leaflet drops ? Obviously if we were to do this it would be outside of the official ‘Yes’ campaign, would we have to follow any campaign rules from the Electoral Commission or such ?

  44. Gordon Bain says:

    I’ve a feeling I’m banned from NNS as well; I can’t even seem to log-on these days. To be honest, it’s no loss. I posted a couple of I,ages on FB this morning. One showing the ugly face of Scottish nationalism (four kilt-wearing dudes showing there arses) and the other showing the ugly face of Unionism (any image from last night or the last sixty in Belfast). Why do we refer to these psychopaths as Loyalists when they’re in NI and Unionists when they’re in Scotland? Exactly what is the difference? Michael Kelly’s rants certainly seem to blur any distinction for me.

  45. tartanfever says:

    re Newsnet. The way i think of the website now is purely as a news site without comments. I think for introducing undecideds to the online world of independence support it’s very useful to have a place that does not have comments because it’s exactly the phrases like ‘Westminster’ that may put some people off.
    While some may think that’s high-handed, it’s also so very precious of you to complain about it. Posting comments on a website is a privilege not a right and the support you give it, financially or otherwise, is not conditional.

  46. J. R. Tomlin says:

    I complained in a post some time about about the NNS attempts to “out-Scotsman the Scotsman”. I commented that they were doing nothing but reducing their own credibility and that more balanced reporting would be more credible to their readers.
    I was promptly banned from commenting. I still read their articles and tweet links to them, but I no longer make contributions. They really do themselves harm.

  47. Shinty says:

    there are other sources like here where I feel more at home. 
    Exactly – check out Munguin’s Republic ‘Saturday Snap Shots’ they are brilliant this week. 

  48. muttley79 says:


    What happened to Wilson anyway?  He was such a firebrand in his youth that he published a pro-independence pamphlet that was so extreme Salmond said that it would have been his unhappy duty to throw him out of the SNP if it had happened recently.

    How does anyone change that much?
    Money, and a lot of it.  Re: the Yes campaign and the consequences of a No vote.  This is one of the main things that has disappointed me about the Yes campaign.  I cannot recall anyone from the Yes side (I mean leading politicians, Blair Jenkins etc), talking about the consequences of a No vote.  Why is that?  Is this likely to change? 


  49. pictishbeastie says:

    The thing is I don’t think I’m even banned from commenting on NNS. I’m not sure though, as I never really see much point in commenting because I always suspect that my comment will fall foul of their mods for one reason or another. 

  50. J. R. Tomlin says:

    Tartanfever, for me, it’s not the lack of comments. It is the reporting that is the real problem. Taking a “Labour accused…” stance isn’t very wise. Rather than answer biased reporting by BBC, etc with reporting just as biased in other direction as NNS has, UNBIASED reporting would be better, in my opinion.

  51. Roll_On_2014 says:

    JR long time no see… hope you are in the best of health.

    I totally agree with both your comments.

    I have just witnessed a sleekit trick on NNS. although I must admit I was not totally surprised, considering the time I have spent on that site from it’s birth and long before that.

  52. Shinty says:

    Much has changed since the early days of Online Ed and Alex Porter. That was a time when when the comments sections were more like WoS. People could interact through either the comments section or the forum, share ideas, pass on information,
    I agree, re Newsnet,  I think the comments are just as important as any article (albeit some may be unhelpful) but it’s very useful to pass on information for those of us who do not tweet etc.
    We all have the same goal (at least most of us do) – 2016 will be the time when we all go our ‘separate’ ways. Until then it should be a united front across the board for YES 2014.  I don’t agree with everything on Newsnet but on the other hand, as the saying goes ‘there’s nae hooks on yer arse

  53. annie says:

    Didn’t NNS explain some time ago that they simply didn’t have the manpower/time to moderate the comments and so limited them to one post every 30 mins or so thereby preventing posters from interacting with each other.

  54. Shinty says:

    Sorry Rev. Stu – no time to edit.

  55. les wilson says:

    Ref NNS, yes I am also banned without reason,no bad mouthing,no swearing, no aggressive talk.I did mention the “unionist Conspiracy” against Scotland. Other than that, I have no idea.
    However, I would still support them, as I still think they have a role to play, so ok some of us may be miffed. However let us not lose track of the fact that they still have a lot of hits and that can only be a good thing.

  56. Juteman says:

    NNS could sort any problems with a bit of simple courtesy.
    If someone gets banned, answer the (repeated) emails asking why. Ignoring folk who are meant to be on the same side just creates bad feeling.

  57. Morag says:

    I think they’d be better off simply not having comments.  There are the favoured few who comment frequently, but then if anyone else wants to enter the discussion they discover that it takes so long for their post to be approved that the discussion has moved on and probably nobody will read it.

    Just having the regular few nodding dog yes-men posting a few uncontentious comments does nothing for their articles, and merely lures the unwary into a false assumption that they too can comment if they want to.  Just post the articles and don’t have comment threads, if that’s the way they feel about it.

  58. Morag says:

    NNS could sort any problems with a bit of simple courtesy.
    If someone gets banned, answer the (repeated) emails asking why. Ignoring folk who are meant to be on the same side just creates bad feeling.

    Yes, that’s a lot of the problem.  Non-communication.  I have no idea who the people are who run NNS, and if they comment at all I am unaware of it.  All I know of their interaction is snippy school-marm lectures I’ve seen appear.  It’s a seriously unfriendly environment.

    I think they should discontinue comments entirely.  It would cause a lot less ill-feeling.

  59. SCED300 says:

    While there is so many posts about NNS, I would say I’m not concerned about their moderation. The articles are very good addition to other sites and clear counter  information to the Unionist slanted stories in the media. It contains a lot of detail to use in discussion. Also some of the comments have links to original sources of information, and newspaper articles. Quite often there are issues I know about but can’t find or remember the source.
    Combining sources gives a much more accurate picture of what is happening.

  60. Morag says:

    NNS could and should reference its articles within the text of the articles themselves.  It should not be necessary for people to do the job for them in the comments threads.

    Their comments policy is so unfriendly and is alienating so many people they’d be better simply banning comments altogether.  This situation of having their bestest friends allowed to post at will, but everyone else on strict (and very delayed) moderation by someone who comes over as the most joyless school-marm ever invented is doing them no good at all.

    It’s also impossible to use the articles to link to for the undecided, as they are so slanted that they are immediately dismissed as biassed and unreliable.

  61. Shinty says:

    In spite of my ‘there’s not hooks on yer arse’ comment. you have a good point there Morag, but let’s leave it there – it’s not really fair bringing this up on Wings, take it to quarantine, otherwise we are no better than trolls interrupting a thread.

  62. Macart says:

    Jeez, its like a who’s who of scary kissers. I’ve only just had ma tea as well.
    I believe all of them except JoLa. At least they’re honest enough to say exactly what will happen post no vote.
    Vote NO get screwed.

  63. Taranaich says:

    @Kendomacaroonbar says:
    Michael Kelly’s comments give me the heebies

    There is something profoundly disturbing in Kelly’s words, and I’m not sure I can quite put my finger on it. I’ll have a go:
    When Yes loses, as it will, its supporters should not be awarded the consolation prize of additional powers for Holyrood.

    Losers should lose. The dream consequence of this loss should be a steady erosion of Holyrood’s powers until it can be abolished.
    What I think Kelly is saying is that Yes voters should be punished (how else could you interpret “losers should lose”?) by having not only independence denied to those who voted for it, but no more devolution – despite this being something many NO voters advocate. So Kelly is not only wanting to punish the Yes voters, but the many No voters who want devolution too. And since historically the majority of Scottish people have voted for devolution (in 1979 as well as 1997), that means Kelly advocates working against the wishes of the people – which is, of course, the complete antithesis of the democratic process.
    Is that about right? If so, it is utterly scandalous. Add him to the list of politicians and pundits I don’t think I could be polite to in real life (which is, depressingly, growing by the day).

  64. Morag says:

    I’d say your analysis was spot on.  Mirrors mine.  I think he’s so deeply immersed in Labour culture where everything is about crushing the SNP that he doesn’t even realise what he’s saying, or how it will come across to ordinary people.

  65. callum says:

    O/T.  UKOK and BT had a stand on the main street of Bridge of Allan today.  I took a few pictures if anyone is interested.  They were talking to people.  No doubt, telling them where to have lunch and making their financial decisions for them…

  66. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Always like to see shots of the grassroots action, man…

  67. Bob Duncan says:

    Morag: I have no idea who the people are who run NNS
    There is a list of writers and other contributors at the bottom of every page of the site.

  68. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “There is a list of writers and other contributors at the bottom of every page of the site.”

    Aye, but I don’t think – correct me if I’m wrong, Morag – that’s what she’s really getting at. It’s just a bunch of names. No individual at NNS is ever answerable for anything. The impression it creates is very – well, “hostile” probably isn’t quite the word, but certainly not one of engagement.

  69. Dcanmore says:

    Johann Lamont says: “Labour are the party of Devolution.” Which is another way of saying: “we retain the power to abolish it if we have to”. Labour in it’s current form don’t recognise the Scottish people as sovereign, they would never support a written constitution by the people for the people. Only a constitution of the Party would suffice. Just like the Tories, Labour are about power and the means to retain it.

  70. Morag says:

    It’s just a bunch of names. No individual at NNS is ever answerable for anything. The impression it creates is very – well, “hostile” probably isn’t quite the word, but certainly not one of engagement.

    Yes.  As you say, it’s names.  I only know that one of the admins goes by the handle “Snowthistle” because I saw it mentioned somewhere in the media.  I have no recollection of Snowthistle commenting BTL, and certainly not interacting with commentators as an admin.

    It’s not about names, it’s about personalities you can interact with.  I wouldn’t care at all if you concealed your real identity entirely.  Interacting with you BTL allows a very good assessment of who you are as a person, what your attitudes are, and where your limits are.  This is pretty usual in online forums and blogs.  I know Dave of Cybernats and the Burd and Tris of Munguin’s Republic and Lallands Peat Worrier and James at Scot Goes Pop and even the extremely reticent BBC Scotlandshire by what they post.  Even if I haven’t interacted much with them, I can make an assessment of who they are.

    It’s different at the big newspaper sites of course.  The moderators there are anonymous and just jump in with the big stick.  They get up my nose too if they become too heavy-handed and partisan like on the Herald, but the Grauniad shows that it can be done quite successfully.  It seems as if NNS is trying to be like a big newspaper, with anonymous moderators sanctimoniously enforcing the party line, but it isn’t appropriate.  However they dress it up, it’s a blog.  It’s not normal for blog owners to be so remote and unfriendly to their readers.

    OK, Bella Caledonia is quite remote too, but it doesn’t seem to matter because that’s more of a showcase for a lot of different (named) contributors to have articles published, and the moderation there doesn’t seem heavy-handed to me.

    But at NNS, few of the articles have a name to them, the authors never interact BTL, the admins never interact BTL, the articles are poorly or not referenced, and corrections and clarifications from readers are unwelcome and liable to meet a hostile reception.  The first you know about the moderation is when you find you’re on pre-moderation for crossing some unseen line, and nobody is prepared to discuss it.  After that happens, even a short innocuous comment will take hours to appear, and if you say anything even mildly out of line it will either never appear or appear and vanish again. Frankly, I think “hostile” is a fair assessment.

    It’s not about names, it’s about the people behind them.  A list of names is no use at all, even real names, if you have no idea who they are or how they think.  A net handle attached to an actual personality who interacts is what’s needed.

  71. Bob Duncan says:

    No individual at NNS is ever answerable for anything.
    Paul Kavanagh is the online editor, and his name is at the top of the list. That seems pretty answerable to me.

  72. Morag says:

    Paul Kavanagh comes over as a decent guy, and I like what he writes.  He at least puts his name to his pieces.  But what does “online editor” mean?  Does it mean he is the person who bans readers for having the cheek to post a correction of a mistake in an article?  I wouldn’t have thought that was like him.

  73. Bob Duncan says:

    Morag, I take your point about interaction, but NNS is a very different beast from wings or even Bella. It is an attempt to provide what is primarily a news site which publishes stories not covered in the MSM, or with a different editorial slant than that which appears in the MSM. It is also, secondarily, a platform for opinion from the pro-indy side of the debate.
    In this sense it is much more like an online newspaper than a blog – a smaller version of HuffPost, perhaps. The fact that it is small reflects the fact that it has a tiny budget and most of us who write for it are unpaid volunteers.

    I nearly always write under my own name, although I haven’t featured much recently as I have been distracted by other projects including DuggyDug.

    I suspect that most of the criticism here is related to the moderation policy and perceived unresponsiveness on behalf of the staff. I would just like to confirm that there is very little resource available to moderate comments – just a small part of one person’s time – and there is a limit to how much can be achieved under the circumstances.

    It is interesting that you feel you know the Scotlandshire team better than the NNS one. As you say, they are extremely reticent. I happen to know that this is because they were fearful of a reaction from the other BBC when they began, and the writers’ pseudonyms this generated soon became part of the satire. You may be surprised if and when you eventually discover who they really are.

  74. Macart says:

    Is it just me or does Tam Dalyell look like Kryten from Red Dwarf?
    I certainly agree with several comments above. By far the creepiest statement above is that uttered by Kelly. In those few words there is more than just a hint of the promise of vindictive punishment. There seems be a bitter resentment behind every line. I wonder if he has nightmares about being the loser?

  75. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “You may be surprised if and when you eventually discover who they really are.”

    I’d never thought there was any doubt that it was one or more NNS staff.

  76. Bob Duncan says:

    I’d never thought there was any doubt that it was one or more NNS staff.
    I understand there is quite a large ‘stable’ of writers. I couldn’t possibly comment further.

  77. Morag says:

    Bob, if the NNS team doesn’t have the resources to moderate comments then it should either have no comments at all, or adopt a light, reactive, post-moderation approach to deal with serious trolling or defamation only.  The current attempt to pre-moderate almost everyone with only a few special friends allowed free access is the worst of all possible worlds.  The hostile, accusatory tone of any moderation feedback (when it appears at all) is also not helpful.  People feel unwelcome and unwanted.  If you don’t want comments, simply don’t enable them!

    I think pretensions to being a newspaper are behind a lot of this.  It’s a blog trying to look like a newspaper.  Many articles are ludicrously spun, just in the opposite direction to the Scotsman’s spin, and so lack any credibility.  The absence of links to supporting material is a serious defect, and the attitude to readers who dare point out an error is frankly deplorable.

    The impression is of an administration team who are so far up themselves that it’s barely worth looking at the site.  Then there are articles like Paul Kavanagh’s that seem to belong to an entirely different site.  I watched the Dougy Dug video and thought it was good, shame about the hostility from the site in general.

    If in fact the excellent, erudite, utterly hilarious BBC Scotlandshire is the work of the same people as NNS then colour me extremely surprised.  Stu seems to think it’s obvious though.

    If NNS really has a sense of humour and some actual pleasant human beings behind the moderation policy (and these unreferenced anonymous articles that must never be questioned), then I can only suggest some reprioritisation might be transformative.

  78. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “if the NNS team doesn’t have the resources to moderate comments”

    I don’t really understand this complaint. Wings posts regularly break 100 comments, 400-500 in a day isn’t unusual, and while I’m pretty much full-time here, I’m mostly writing or researching (or doing the dishes). Comments don’t take up much of my time, even though I participate in them. I moderate almost nothing. Unless NNS is beset by total psychos, get out of the way and let them get on with it.

  79. Morag says:

    I don’t think they’re beset by total psychos.  Just looking at the huge number of people posting here whom I consider to be informative and entertaining who say they have been pre-moderated or banned by NNS suggests a serious miscalculation.  Including HandandShrimp, for God’s sake, whom I have known on another forum for many years.

    I saw very little trouble being caused by unionists cruising for trouble, while I was posting there.  Indeed, snide unionist comments seemed to be acceptable.  The people who were being moderated seemed to be committing one or more of three basic errors.  Either using some silly derogatory comment such as “Westminster”, or pointing out an error in an article and getting vocal if (when) they were ignored, or being critical of some aspect of the Yes campaign or the SNP.  Conversations in the comments that veered off topic also seemed to be frowned on.

    Of course comments threads that degenerate into the sort of thing we see on the Scotsman would be a disaster and would have to be dealt with, but I’ve never seen anything like that.  There’s no justification for the heavy-handed hostile approach that’s being adopted.

    I worried that when WoS started to get popular we’d be over-run by unionist trolls seeking to disrupt the threads, but it hasn’t really happened.  The odious Long******r got his marching orders and Captain Caveman became a reformed character.  The only problem incident was when Stu didn’t believe the consensus information that a notorious concern troll (operating as Norsewarrior but easily identifiable as a number of other handles) was a concern troll and went after the innocent parties, but he’s not daft and that was sorted out eventually.

    Right now, WoS is an extremely friendly place, and even people who don’t get on don’t normally fight about it in public.  Stu seems to hit just the right spot with the moderation he does, which includes warning people who are straying out of line – something NNS never does.  One minute you’re posting, the next you’re on permanent pre-moderation and you might as well go away because that will never change.

    It’s not friendly.  And it’s unnecessary.  If the admins really are pleasant, friendly human beings, it would help if it showed.  And if they are the same people as the extraordinary BBC Scotlandshire, then something has gone badly wrong on one of the sites and it ain’t BBCS. (Which, by the way, I adore. One day I hope to buy the author of that post about the muse of history a drink.)

  80. Bob Duncan says:

    Morag, it was Stu who surmised the NNS and Scotlandshire staff were the same – I am not saying that at all. Only that you may recognise some and be surprised.

    I don’t agree with your point that NNS is a blog masquerading as a newspaper. The reportage is always carefully researched and great care is taken to keep the personal opinion of the writer out of such articles. I suspect there is not a clear enough distinction made between those and the many opinion pieces which are sometimes penned by the same authors.

    I am genuinely disappointed by the concerns expressed here as I feel NNS makes a vital contribution to the debate and I don’t really recognise the site as described on this thread. However, I will make sure that the management is aware of the thread as I know they review their policy on a frequent basis and this should help.

    Thanks to everyone who has expressed their opinion, whether negative or positive – this is all useful feedback.

  81. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I am genuinely disappointed by the concerns expressed here as I feel NNS makes a vital contribution to the debate and I don’t really recognise the site as described on this thread.”

    Since you’re here, I might as well say this, as if I put it in a comment on NNS it gets deleted – I almost never read the site, because however good the actual newsgathering might be (and sometimes it’s very good), I’ve nearly always had my intelligence insulted so heinously by the second sentence that I can’t bear to continue to the actual information.

    PLEASE, I’m begging you, for all our sakes, STOP writing “Pressure built on Politican X today because of Issue Y”, or whatever. I get that you’re trying to spin stuff like the Scotsman does, but we all know that this “pressure” is non-existent. It’s just YOU saying it, and that doesn’t make it a thing. It’s playground-level embarrassing and it massively discredits the reporting. If you’re trying to be a news site, BE a news site, and don’t colour the story with editorialising. (Wings doesn’t pretend to be a news site.)

    You’re good at newsgathering. Do that. Don’t embellish it.

  82. Morag says:

    Well, I do read the articles from time to time.  But I totally dispute that it’s a newspaper.  The reportage is even more partisan than the Scotsman, just to the side I favour.  Much of it reads like a spoof of the Scotsman.  It can’t be linked to for the uncommitted for that reason.  We have no idea about the journalistic credentials of the “reporters”.  This site is better to link to because it doesn’t even have a veneer of impartiality.  Ad it’s extremely factual and copiously referenced.

    I don’t think you realise how many articles contain errors.  Of course people are only human, but the problem with NNS is the defensive (and indeed hostile) response to anyone pointing this out.  It’s basically shoot the messenger.  Then of course the messengers get a bit annoyed.

    I agree that NNS makes an important contribution to the debate, but it could make a more positive one with a different attitude.  REFERENCE the bloody articles to primary sources.  Acknowledge corrections when these are pointed out, and correct the article accordingly.  Quit with this “by a Newsnet reporter” malarkey and identify the “journalists”, even if only by net handles.

    If you hate comments, don’t have them.  If you want comments, then move much closer to Stu’s model.  Just this evening I read an article which covered a topic I’d had an in-depth conversation about this afternoon with a friend.  I felt moved to post a comment expanding on an aspect of the article as it had come up in the conversation.  Then I remembered, I couldn’t do that.  I’m not allowed to comment on NNS.  Then the bad taste returns to my mouth and I go find something else to read.

    Even moderating everyone equally, with the same delay, would be less hostile.  However, the favoured few nodding dog yes-men are free to comment, while everyone else is excluded.  After a few attempts to participate fail because even an entirely innocuous post takes many hours to appear, people just give up, and they don’t feel good about it.

    (Many months ago, I posted something like “Nail, head, hit” in response to a post I agreed with.  It took many hours to appear.  I forgot which thread it was even on.  How often and how long do you even go back to see if someone has responded to a post of yours under these circumstances?  I never posted again.)

    PARTICIPATE below the line and get to know the commentators, and more importantly, allow them to get to know you.  If people are stepping out of line, tell them so in a non-confrontational way.  Forge a relationship with your readership.  Or stop the comments entirely.  It’s not a happy place to be at the moment, and it could be so much more.

  83. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “when Stu didn’t believe the consensus information”

    I never said I didn’t believe it. I said I’d judge people on what they posted here, not what they might or might not have posted elsewhere.

  84. Angus says:

    I think Newsnet have been fine with me and do a very good job-there is no doubt in my mind though that the road they have gone down is not quite keeping up with the way the internet is used to push any message via blogs……a great blog can easily do more than a newspaper format that is perhaps a tad too ‘traditional’.
    I think most adults like to use the odd fucking swear word or maybe use a bit of satire within their comments, rather like they are prone to do when making the same point in a pub or at work.
    Newsnet shouldn’t have us comparing it to this entirely different and more interactive brilliant blog which has no (perhaps only perceived by news net themselves) restrictions, it is the call of Newsnet and not us on how they run their excellent site.
    Newsnet is a very worthy place to link to as a means to inform potential 2014 voters, and all the criticisms directed at it are equally probably true but for the reasons above they don’t need to be wingsoverscotland and that is a hard act to follow guys if we are honest.
    I ain’t anything to do with them but as a mere humble punter, but they are an asset as far as I see it.

  85. Morag says:

    You didn’t want to act on it, fair enough.  At first, I thought you knew the score and were just giving him enough rope to hang himself, then it began to seem as if you thought he really was genuine and about a dozen long-time posters were just being mean to him for no particular reason.

    Then you banned him anyway, so job done, really!  😀

  86. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “REFERENCE the bloody articles to primary sources.”

    Oh God yes this.

  87. Morag says:

    Angus, I’m not disputing that they’re an asset.  But what Stu says about the “pressure put on unionist politician X” riff is absolutely true.  It’s false as all get out, and screamingly annoying.  Fine in a spoof article, but it can’t be taken seriously.

    I’m not comparing them to WoS, except to point out that if Stu can keep comments under control without alienating 95% of online independence supporters with an IQ of more than 90 points, then so could they.  And if he can reference his sources, so can they.

    The present set-up is making everyone who is on pre-moderation feel very negative about the site, and it seems as if nearly everyone is on pre-moderation.  It’s not good.  We could use both WoS and NNS doing different things.  But NNS is turning people away with its hostility and overbearing attitudes.  It could be so much better.

  88. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    I was banned from NNS and I still have do not know why , though I asked several times for an explanation. It may have been because of a fairly innocuous joke (which was carried on Wings quite happily). In the meantime it publishes pieces by the virulently anti independence Kenneth Roy and, even worse, by Campbell Martin who colluded with the unionist media in the destruction of John Swinney’s leadership of the SNP

  89. Morag says:

    I had a run-in with Kenneth Roy in a completely different theatre.  He seems incapable of reading for simple comprehension, and then blames the writer for his own inadequacies.  The end of that chapter was someone else in the affair dismissing him as a “vapid twerp”, and now that’s all I think of when I see the name!

  90. cearc says:

    I agree so much with Morag and many of these NNS comments.  It has moved so far from the OnlineEd’s original place for publishing and discussing that which BwB wouldn’t allow.  It was the comments expanding on and giving references that informed so many people.  It was my homepage and where I sent people who wanted to know more. 
    Although, I appreciate that they are trying to do something different from that now, it has gone too far away.  The moderation has destroyed the conversational aspect of comments and with it the informative and referenced debate.  I now only go there occasionally, usually when Peter Bell has linked to an article on his excellent (now my homepage) Scoop It.  WoS site has taken over their original function.
    Their version of the ‘SNP Accused’ headlines is quite frankly embarassing and  I, for one, no longer name them  to curious non-political anoraks because of it.  PB, WoS and the excellent Business for Scotland are my choice to recommend and from them people will find all the other good sites if interested.

  91. Morag says:

    Sigh.  I just read over the NNS article about the WoS poll.  Absolutely crashing error right in the middle.  This is referring to the “how does your referendum voting intention compare with the stance of the party you voted for in 2010?” question.

    There was, however, no option for respondents to answer that they couldn’t remember who they had voted for in 2010, or that they had no clue as to what policy such a party might have!  The only choice for those beset by doubt on the question was “I don’t currently know how I plan to vote in the referendum”.

    Since respondents were asked in a separate question to state who they voted for in 2010, then I would assume that point was covered in some way.  However the error is the bolded part.

    It is not possible for any respondent to have no clue what policy their 2010 favourite has on independence, because THE INFORMATION WAS PROVIDED FOR THEM BELOW THE POLL QUESTION!  So if a Green voter, for example, didn’t know whether the Greens were pro or anti independence, the information was there for them to check before they gave their answer.

    Now, James over at Scot Goes Pop made the same mistake, so it’s obviously an fairly easy one to make (unless of course the NNS article merely copied the SGP one without looking at the comments).  The difference is, James allows free comment, so I was able to post under his article and point this out, and he pleasantly acknowledged this and remarked that it made the figures more reliable.

    However, at NNS I cannot comment, or if I did overcome my huge reluctance to log in with my old username and try to comment, the best that might happen is that the comment would show up some time late this evening.  But it probably wouldn’t show up at all, because comments pointing out mistakes in the NNS articles virtually never appear.

    This entirely encapsulates much of what’s wrong with NNS at the present time.

  92. Adrian B says:

    @ Morag,
    Go easy on them……..

  93. Morag says:

    No, I bloody well won’t contact them.  I’ve been treated like a naughty schoolgirl once too often by these people.  And from past experience I know that they will never acknowledge an error or correct an article once it has been published.  All you gain by pointing it out is their renewed contempt and enmity.

  94. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Exactly. Morag
    Having gone into pre-moderation for God Knows What and being unable to find out why and then being banned on the same basis with no explanation given despite four queries I very rarely go to NNS now which is a pity because there is some very good stuff on it lots of the time (in particular Paul Kavanagh’s A to Z of Unionist Myths should be put into every house in Scotland).
    It wasn’t like this when it started when it was very popular.

  95. Chic McGregor says:

    The Us must love this internecine rancour. 
    However, it would be churlish not to concede that for me too. NNS has gone in a direction I would rather it had not.
    For me, the main changes, all my own opinion of course, have been as follows.
    An ill-advised move to present a balanced view rather than an honest pro-independence one. 
    This extended to the point of having regular articles from out and out unionists.  They do not do this as much, if at all now, but at one point you were left wondering if they had perhaps been infiltrated by establishment manipulators.  I never believed they had been infiltrated but even so thought that strategy was flawed on two main levels. 
    First, if your goal was truly to achieve balance in the media in Scotland, to do that you would have needed the equivalent of around 30, clearly pro-indy, NNS’s with unique readerships in Scotland plus 2 or 3 pro-indy TV channels and pro-indy radio channels (countless local pro-indy local press newspapers as well).  Then you might have had a balanced coverage.  There seems to have been a confusion between balance and bias.
    Having a single unbiased outlet, or even the 30 required for numerical readership balance, was never going to acquire actual balance.
    The main reason I felt responsible for the call for balance was perhaps the involvement of professional (read system conditioned) journalists.
    (There was a coup of sorts, I believe).
    Second, while the articles themselves are far from unbiased. The spin required to feign impartiality simply smacks of the same old, same old, vis the MSM.  Leading to casual reader scepticism and alienation.  Far better to be up front, clearly pro-indy.
    Moderation became increasingly heavy handed and unfathomable.  For instance, you could have a comment which said one thing moderated out or edited even though its message was essentially the same as had frequently appeared in past articles or even one which would appear in another article days later. This seemed to give the message ‘WE are allowed to say this but YOU are not’.
    Third, a lot of people, IMO, went to NNS to read the comments rather than the articles.  IMO many of the long comments you got there once, were of a higher quality than the article.  The ‘twitterisation’ move virtually put a stop to any comments which could develop complex arguments.  Don’t have a clear view on the reason for this, but possibilities range from childish jealousy to party dictum and all points in between.   
    Having voiced my subjective opinion, I still read NNS, still comment occasionally and still donate, but my time and effort spent there is far less than it used to be.
    It is still worthy of support in my view and I would hope that we don’t get into a divisive competitive scenario between the main on line pro-indy outlets.  I note some references to WOS articles on NNS recently and don’t think it is so late that mutual respect for different approaches could not yet break out, even if we disagree with some or even fail to understand them.
    We should keep in mind, that we are all trying to achieve the same thing albeit in different ways even if some of them are unfathomable to to others.

  96. Chic McGregor says:

    Sorry, I seem to have got mixed up in my enumeration of points there, was only enumerating two for one section then carried on for different points made.
    In the interest of balance, appropriate time to bemoan the restrictions on post-editing by WOS 🙂

  97. Morag says:

    I still read NNS, though I don’t try to post any more, and they won’t be seeing any more of my money.  I think the reason a great deal has been said on this thread is that this is an opportunity to say what is not allowed to be said on NNS itself.  It may be an utter waste of time, I think it is, but there is a residue of hope that the NNS administrators might take a long hard look at what they’re doing, and reconsider.

    Up their journalistic standards, reference the articles, accept and act on corrections, and either discontinue comments or return to an open comments policy with only spam or personal abuse deleted.  And interact with the readership.  Wouldn’t that be lovely.  We want to tell them this, but this is the only way we can.

    I doubt if they’ll do any of that.  They have been told often enough, but have simply deleted the posts with extreme prejudice.  These are people so sure of their own virtue and our unworthiness that they ain’t gonna change.  But still this little sliver of hope creeps in.

  98. Morag says:

    In the interest of balance, appropriate time to bemoan the restrictions on post-editing by WOS.
    I know why, though.  I posted on another forum where a member frequently went back to old posts and re-wrote them, usually to eliminate errors which had been thoroughly and painstakingly debunked in the following posts.  The result was a complete nonsense.  Still, that forum moved to a two-hour window, not a ten-minute one, and you can still edit within the time window even if others have posted after you.  It seems to work OK, and there is no call to shorten the window – indeed it was extended from an original one hour on request.

    I think there has to be some sort of “permanence and finality” to posts after a certain period of grace.  However, the WoS period of grace is arguably too restrictive.  I’d vote for half an hour or so, with no bar to editing even if there have been subsequent posts made in the thread.  I doubt if there would be much revisionism.

  99. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I think there has to be some sort of “permanence and finality” to posts after a certain period of grace. However, the WoS period of grace is arguably too restrictive. I’d vote for half an hour or so, with no bar to editing even if there have been subsequent posts made in the thread.”

    I’m not sure that’s possible with the comment software that’s running at the moment. I can extend the time limit no problem, but it’s mainly academic as it’s rare for a page to go five minutes without a new comment when a story’s fairly fresh.

  100. Morag says:

    Yes, it’s the “no change after a new post has appeared” that’s the problem.  No matter how quick you are at spotting a typo or a formatting error, if someone has posted, you’re screwed.  And it’s disruptive to be constantly posting new posts with apologies and minor corrections.
    If it’s an inviolable feature of the software it can’t be helped, but it’s a damn annoying one.

  101. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “And it’s disruptive to be constantly posting new posts with apologies and minor corrections.”

    I usually fix minor typos for people whenever I can anyway.

  102. Morag says:

    Sometimes it’s not obvious though.  Still, if it can’t be altered, it can’t be helped.

    By the way, I’m not sure my attempt to highlight that it’s “free rein”, not “free reign” et sequitur met with unqualified approval.  One does one’s best, but it’s a hard life being a spelling Nazi, especially where homophone confusion is common.

  103. Morag says:

    By the way again, I’m getting very strange phishing messages when I attempt to edit a post.  This has just started this evening.  I have tried all sorts of security scans to see if my PC has picked something up, but I can’t find anything.  Could there be something on the edit page itself?

  104. Morag says:

    Re that last post, nevermind.  I’m seeing it on the Cybernats page too, so it must be me.  Hopefully it will go away.

  105. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “By the way again, I’m getting very strange phishing messages when I attempt to edit a post.”

    I’ve extended the edit period to 20 minutes, but changed nothing else.

  106. Morag says:

    It’s not Wings, it’s my PC.  It seems benign, but it’s hellish annoying.  I’m getting obtrusive phishing sidebar adverts, and occasionally pop-ups, and these fake double-underlined links that say weird things when you mouseover them.  And the Guardian comments threads won’t load.  All my virus software appears happy though, so I’m just hoping it will go away in time.

Comment - please read this page for comment rules. HTML tags like <i> and <b> are permitted. Use paragraph breaks in long comments. DO NOT SIGN YOUR COMMENTS, either with a name or a slogan. If your comment does not appear immediately, DO NOT REPOST IT. Ignore these rules and I WILL KILL YOU WITH HAMMERS.

↑ Top