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Wings Over Scotland

Then they come to fight you

Posted on September 06, 2013 by

It’s not even a fortnight since we started to document the increasing levels of bullying, intimidation and dirty tricks employed by the No campaign against the far more numerous grassroots activists of Yes Scotland. We must admit, we weren’t expecting it to descend to outright physical violence quite this soon.


The picture above is taken from a story in yesterday’s Edinburgh Evening News. It shows an 80-year-old man, James McMillan (no relation to the differently-spelled composer James MacMillan CBE, who recently referred to pro-independence artists’ group National Collective as “Mussolini’s cheerleaders”), who was hospitalised with a broken wrist and other injuries after being attacked in the street by a woman outraged by his Yes placard.

It was only a matter of time.

The constant hysterical vilification and smearing of Yes supporters and politicians by the No camp over the last 18 months (but which has ramped up in intensity over recent weeks) made violent attacks inevitable. The only shocking aspect was that the victim was a frail pensioner, and perhaps that his attacker was a woman.

Well, nearly the only shocking aspect.

The Herald and STV both also carried reports of the incident yesterday, whose common theme was that neither of them mentioned the political nature of the attack. The Herald went with “Singer, 80 assaulted by woman”, while STV bizarrely chose “Gospel singer assaulted by woman as he sang hymns on the street” as its angle. Both reported Scots-born, Scots-resident Mr McMillan as a “Canadian”.

Now, it would be unfair to criticise the outlets for that alone. It’s entirely likely that they and the EEN all simply reported the same original, incomplete story from a newswire. But the Evening News bothered to chase it up and get the full facts, almost like journalists or something. (They’ve admirably followed the piece up with another one today, reporting Mr McMillan’s determination to carry on.)

Yet even despite the EEN having done all the work for them, a Scottish and UK media which exploded in a frenzy of wildly overheated coverage when some demonstrators non-violently barracked Nigel Farage a bit in Edinburgh a few weeks ago is completely silent this morning about an actual serious physical attack on an old man.

(The Herald went so far as to actively delete comments on the article on their website which had attempted to point out the full context of the story.)


Whether that would have remained the case had it been an 80-year-old No campaigner who had his wrist broken and his head gashed by a Yes activist is one of those annoying invisible hypotheticals about which we can only speculate. Another is just how much the language and tone of the No campaign contributed to the attack.

But what we can say with confidence is that the first blood to be spilled in the name of the independence debate is a story deserving more column inches than a few students yelling at an unpopular politician. Decide for yourselves why it hasn’t had them.

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    1. 30 06 14 16:50

      Why We Need Wings | A Wilderness of Peace

    2. 04 07 14 17:44

      Gie’s Peace! | A Wilderness of Peace

    51 to “Then they come to fight you”

    1. steven luby says:

      Silence is deafening !

    2. muttley79 says:

      One rule for one side, another for the other side….The EEN deserve credit for putting it on their front page and reporting it in an honest manner.  Overall though, the MSM in Scotland again resembles Pravada.

    3. pa_broon74 says:

      Was a bit unsure of the EEN’s coverage of this, I thought perhaps the context hadn’t been confirmed properly – the attacker’s motives being unknown -she may just be a nutter.
      Even so, the hypothetical flip side is interesting and unfortunately, I imagine there’ll be more of the same. I wonder what kind of counter-protest the no crowd will put up on the 21st, there will be something no doubt.
      Hopefully nothing involving violence.

    4. Bubbles says:

      What’s with the constant references to WoS in the comments section of the EEN follow-up article? I note the first post has been removed.

    5. Norrie says:

      Maybe that area is some sort of High Street triangle.

    6. Bubbles says:

      @ pa-broon
      I’ve been wondering (and endeavouring to find out) the exact same thing.

    7. faolie says:

      @muttley79: Overall though, the MSM in Scotland again resembles Pravada.
      You know what the Russians used to say. There’s no Izvestia [news] in Pravda [truth] and there’s no Pravda in Izvestia.
      Just slightly O/T, the third most read story at the Scotsman is the Panelbase poll and the most read story at the Herald is SNP poll puts Yes campaign ahead. Grrr, if only we could just stop reporting all the good Yes stories….

    8. EvelynSezAye says:

      Had this been a Unionist who had been attacked by a Nationalist, we would never have heard the end of it. We would have had screaming front page headlines about nasty Nats, it would have been the top news story, and there would have been calls for Alex Salmond to resign and apologise…Strange why none of the MSM mentioned the real reason for the attack..

    9. Gillie says:

      Unfortunately, James McMillan maybe the first pro-independence casualty but we all know he won’t be the last.
      If it were me I would have James McMillan front and centre carrying his placard and waving his flag in the March for Scottish Independence. He has deserved it. 

    10. Neil McAdam says:

      …then you win.

    11. Angus says:

      Fear and misunderstanding breeds the malcontents with no argument and it can lead to a tawdry episode such as this pensioner being hurt because someone wanted to assault his Yes banner!
      Let’s share this video, I would like to see an interview with these guys:

    12. Dramfineday says:

      Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Mr McMillan, keep it up James, not long now! Maybe see you on the march or on the high street one day soon?

      And best wishes for a speedy recovery to James MacMillan in the hope that, after his sour, sleekit reference to Mussolini (besmirching our first minister in a very foul manner James?) he regains his sense of balance and perspective.

      Well done the Edinburgh Evening news for following through on the story and calling it as it was and finally let’s hope the violent oik is caught soon or has the decency to hand herself in.

    13. There seems to be a collaboration in the comments under a new story on The Evening News site about this. It looks like a couple of posters are trying to make it look like the Rev Stu is posting questionable remarks. One comment is deleted, already and a convenient reply refers directly to this site.

    14. I’m sorry to read that anyone has been hurt, intentionally or otherwise, in the debate. However, I’m not sure that endlessly singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic, while beating loudly on a  tambourine and standing next to a sign that makes mention of removing the Norman influence over Scotland is exactly the best method of engaging with undecided voters.

    15. david says:

      fortunately its only a broken wrist, could have been alot worse considering his age. will probably be in shock too. hope he gettin help

    16. Yesitis says:

      Neil MacKenzie
      There seems to be a collaboration in the comments under a new story on The Evening News site about this.
      Noticed that too.
      Seems to be a concerted effort to smear the Rev, WoS, National Collective; basically any pro-independence individuals and sites. It`s rampant on Twitter and it seems to be spreading.  Some of it seems to be Longshankerstalker based, but there`s probably a clique of them at work.

    17. david says:

      wonder if it was ian davidson in drag ?

    18. Jamie Arriere says:

      Maybe it’s a typo and he meant the No-man influence?
      Having said there have been a few dodgy Normans in the past – Lamont, Fowler, Tebbit, Bettison……

    19. muttley79 says:

      Yes, pro-independence websites are a target for the more rabid and extreme element of Unionist ‘activists’.  It just goes to show that they consider them a threat.  We all know the identity of one of them.  They must not have grasped the irony of being so negative, as they are aping the Project Fear leadership.

    20. @Jamie Arriere – it was a handwritten sign and pretty bizarre, really. I had to look several times to be sure my eyes were not deceiving me.

    21. Albalha says:

      Meanwhile at the end of the current EEN article is news of a Tory FOI request on how much money the Scottish Gov has spent on flags, that’ll be balanced reporting, in their world, I suppose.
      Maybe this is their house style, a main story and then an add on, can’t say as I read it, so don’t know.

    22. HandandShrimp says:

      Until the lady is apprehended I guess we can’t be sure of the exact reason. I believe James was singing a hymn so she might be extremely anti-religion or something or the hymn was from the wrong flavour of church and she is a sectarian bigot. Time will tell.
      More interesting are the comments in the EEN. Blimey some of those people are unpleasant wee trolls. The accusation that cybernats are solely to blame for internet nastiness is so far wide of the mark as to be little more than a bare faced lie. That or denial so deep that it would keep psychologists in gravy for years 

    23. HandandShrimp says:

      Smearing this site is a tad counterproductive. People will come here and see that yes it is a pro-independence site and consequently we favour one side over another but we are hardly the spawn of Satan. In fact, I would say that the Better Together Facebook page is both nastier and done with far less humour and banter…it is also damned hard to get banned from this site and damned easy to get banned from Better Together. I know which approach I prefer.

    24. Albalha says:

      Meanwhile the story has made it to the Huffington Post and a certain prominent Labour tweeter gets a star billing, how does that work?

    25. Jamie Arriere says:

      @Stewart Bremner,
      He does seem to be a ‘self-starting’ Yes campaigner and ploughing his own furrow – however Edinburgh Royal Mile should be used to strange performances and street performers of all varieties and abilities at this time of year.
      I did see a quote from the old boy that said the woman was shocked at what she had done, so we’ll probably see a staged kiss-and-make-up apology at some stage in a newspaper near you – but the media reaction so far is very telling, and we’ll note the contrast when it happens to a No supporter.

    26. jim mitchell says:

      Now that there is a picture of the gent in question, what’s the betting that the No lot will start claiming that he wasn’t supporting a YES vote and that somebody just rushed out and put a saltire in his hand while he was concussed? lol
      BTW noticed this: Labour Party sale
      Labour Party up to 75% off Order today with free shipping! Now I know their short of money, but selling themselves off and at a discount as well!
      So anyone fancy buying a political party, I use the term loosely of course,
      incidentally i see their Scottish branch is still touting itself as the biggest political party in Scotland, surely that’s got to be against the trade description act

    27. Tattie-boggle says:

      It really is out of order. some folk have absolutely no moral compass at all
      on a lighter note
      He does look good for octogenarianor is he really only 40 as you all know we in Scotland age twice as fast as the rest of the UK.

    28. Gordoz says:

      6 September, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      The best method of engaging with undecided voters ?
      On a similar thread can we also agree that the token pronouncements of a certain Scottish ‘reality show’ singer were hardly cutting edge in terms of engagement with undecided voters ? Still happened none the less.

      Jamie Arriere:
      we’ll note the contrast when it happens to a No supporter.

      BT Dundee Cooncillor rubbish ?????

    29. Yesitis says:

      Muttley and HandandShrimp
      HandandShrimp, yes, the BT Facebook page is a bit of an abomination. A truly scary place.

    30. Albalha says:

      What’s the Dundee link, maybe being a bit dim?

    31. proudscot says:

      I hope Alex Salmond will remember this incident and maybe even mention it, next time he comments about how our independence campaign is unique in that not one person has had a nosebleed because of it. He could amend this to commenting that the only violence has been an unjustified attack on an 80-year old YES supporter.
      Slightly o/t I had a quiet chuckle when reading of Cameron’s petulant and largely inaccurate response to a Russian delegate’s jibe that the UK is only a small insignificant island, which no-one pays any attention to. My immediate response was one of schadenfreude, as I recalled the Unionists’ oft repeated assertion that an independent  Scotland would be too small to carry much “clout” in world affairs. I now await similar “spitting out the dummy” outraged statements from the likes of Hague, Hammond, Darling, Murphy, Moore, etc., all variously claiming we’re still really really important, and we have two aircraftless carriers to prove it!!!

    32. gavin lessells says:

      Meanwhile the Herald continues with its pretendy sitting on the fence posturing.
      Two headlines this week on printed Herald newspapers. The first stated that support for Independence was down to 25%. No mention of poll. Suitable for bill boards at news agents.
      This morning, front page headline re junior doctors looking after over 100 beds. This being part of the Herald`s continuous attack on the Scottish NHS and the SG.
      They do raise issues on the unprinted blog but purely to encourage comment participation and desperately needed contributions.
      Make no mistake, their news editors are no friends of the Yes campaign

    33. Andy-B says:

      Well done the EEN for digging deeper and finding the truth of the matter,as for MSM TV channels, im totally disgusted by them, for not reporting the whole truth of the matter.
      And as you say if the shoe had been on the other foot, ie it happened to a no campaigner, it would have been the main bulletin on the six oclock news.

    34. Richie says:

      Sorry OT
      Panelbase bans new members from independence polls.
      A leading polling organisation has banned new members from contributing to future polls on Scottish independence amid concerns that it has been swamped by Nationalists seeking to “influence” the results.

    35. Roll_On_2014 says:

      Seen this in the Hootsmon Stu

      Panelbase bans new members from independence polls.

      Guess the NO’s don’t like it up-em.

    36. Jeannie says:

      I don’t get this story about Panelbase banning new recruits.  Surely if they’re carrying out proper sampling, it shouldn’t matter how many people are on their books.  I’m certainly no expert on polling, but unless people deliberately lie about how they voted in the past, thus upsetting the weightings, what difference does it make how many pro-indy people are registered with them?  Skier?

    37. Hetty says:

      If this had been a violent atack or even non violent attack on a ‘no’ activist, it would for sure have been front page headlines and we would not hear the last of it from the msm. Sorry I when it comes to this sort of thing it’s difficult to be objective. 

      I think there should be good security at the rally, who knows what the some of the extreme ‘no’ camp have up their sleeves. Hopefully it will all be good spirited and good fun…the ‘no’ lot could organise their own rally, couldn’t they, but with good intent of course, they are entitled as anyone to be at the rally.

    38. Arbroath 1320 says:

      I wish James McMillan a speedy recovery from this totally unnecessary attack on him by a member of the public because he was daring enough to openly show his support for an independent Scotland. 
      Personally I hope his assailant is caught quickly and brought to trial. Unfortunately there will not be any jail time for his assailant more likely just community service. With this in mind I’d like to suggest two possible options for her community service.
      1) She must walk up and down the Royal Mile from time of conviction till 19th September 2014 with two sandwich boards, one in front and one behind, advocating support for YES.
      2) Bring back the stocks and invite members of the public to throw rotten tomatoes at her.

    39. john king says:

      “I would say that the Better Together Facebook page is both nastier and done with far less humour and banter”
      Banter? the last place you would go “for the banter” is better together 
      that is the saddest place on the planet
      message to James McMillan, keep the faith James , we’re with you

    40. seoc says:

      There is fear being woven into scaremongering.
      There are lies from every Unionist quarter.
      Now there is physical violence after verbal violence.
      BUT – we have the noble and fearless vigilant Press to protect us.
      Haven’t we?

    41. Gfaetheblock says:

      As no one has been arrested or questioned, I don’t think anyone can claim to understand motive here.
      This is a tragic incident, hope the dude is better soon.  It seems unclear to me what the motivation was or whether this was assault or accident.  
      I am surprised that evening news is now the paper of record, I thought it was the tabloid version the scotsman!

    42. Seasick Dave says:

      Wasn’t there a brutal attack on Susan Calman which got lots of press coverage?
      I’m sure Kay with an ‘E’ will give this plenty airtime.

    43. Angus MacC says:

      First they ridicule us, then they will fight us.
      Problem that unionism and Better Together now have, nobody really believes them, media control is obvious, lies are obvious, blind hatred and fabrication.
      Not everyone is stupid and the intelligencia will lead the way.

    44. Linda's back says:

      Problem is that MSM / BBC / STV ignore this story whereas “respected” legal  commentators such as arch unionist  Alistair Bonnington are given free reign  in Herald to-day to attack the Scottish government and “Cybernats” without equal condemnation of ultra unionists such as BNP, SDL, OO and UKIP who are immune from criticism on their activities on the independence debate.
      Just compare the MSM / BBC coverage of heckling of Nigel Falange with physical assault of 80 year old YES campaigner.

    45. Linda's back says:

      Gfaetheblock says:
      6 September, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      As no one has been arrested or questioned, I don’t think anyone can claim to understand motive here.
      As the Yes banner was ripped off him I think we can work out the motive for this callous attack.  Will MSM call on Alistair Darling  to condemn such violence  by NO supporters?

    46. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “As no one has been arrested or questioned, I don’t think anyone can claim to understand motive here”

      Um, apart maybe from the people who witnessed it, who described his placard as the source of her outrage, and how she ripped it out of his hands and made to walk away, apparently satisfied that her work was done at that point.

      Unless you’re suggesting that she just really hated placards in general.

    47. Training Day says:


      You’ve previously hinted at poll results which you claim show a correlation between voting No and higher intelligence.

      So maybe the assailant was just demonstrating their intellectual acumen.

    48. Gfaetheblock says:

      Sorry Stu, you seem to have more detail than was in the evening news.
      no trying to suggest anything, other than it is hard to judge a situation with only some of the facts.

    49. deewal says:

      Keep yoúr eyes on this. Fight the Gagging Law.
      Wonder how long it will be before Cybernats becomes Seperatist Insurgents and then Nationalist Rebels ?
      Troops sent to ensure safety of UK WMD’s and safety of UK Citizens. Round up of all known members of Fascist National Party Criminal’s.
      Naa. Couldn’t happen here could it ?

    50. Albalha says:

      Ah thanks, I was indeed being dim!

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