The world's most-read Scottish politics website

Wings Over Scotland

Unionist of the year (so far)

Posted on January 09, 2014 by

Yesterday saw one of the odder incidents to date in the Scottish media’s coverage of the independence debate. Both the Herald and Scotsman ran almost word-for-word-identical articles reporting the findings of a Glasgow University study into the nature of the debate on Twitter, which concluded (in line with previous research) that Yes campaigners were far more active on the social network than No ones, and that the Yes campaign was far more grassroots than its “top-down” opponent.


We were pleased to get a namecheck in both pieces, but the curious aspect was the length that the articles went to in order to provide a couple of examples of “unofficial” No advocates. It’s now over a year since we first observed the death of Unionist blogging, so it’s understandable that the study had trouble digging anything up, but the representatives they settled on boggled quite a few minds.

We only know of one substantial Unionist online meeting-place, an ugly and nasty Facebook page largely inhabited by thuggish Loyalist types which we won’t dignify by name but which boasts over 30,000 “likes”. It has no official Twitter presence, so the articles instead selected a couple of pseudonymous accounts in similar vein with fewer than 1500 followers between them.

The image at the top of this post comes from one of them, and is pretty typical of the rest of the account’s content. Quite aside from yet again regurgitating a load of endlessly-debunked old smears about alleged comments by former SNP leader Arthur Donaldson a mere 73 years ago, the IQ-challenged individual responsible hilariously can’t even tell Donaldson apart from 1970s Nat chief William “Billy” Wolfe, who’s the person actually pictured in the top-left of the image.

Wolfe is widely credited with shifting the SNP dramatically leftwards on the political spectrum and laying the foundations for the modern incarnation of the party, so depicting him as some sort of Nazi sympathiser and drawing a swastika on his face is even more cretinous than one would immediately assume on glancing at the graphic, which is no small feat.

We’re not quite sure what point the Herald and Scotsman pieces are trying to make by directing readers to such an unpleasant pair of nutcases as the poster-boys of the No campaign. It’s not clear from either article whether they were highlighted by the report or by the uncredited author of the two newspaper pieces. Either way, we can only assume that whoever it is wants to paint the grassroots No campaign (in so far as there is one) in a staggeringly terrible light, by associating it with the sort of repellent, skin-crawling wee creatures you’d find slithering about in the dark slime under rocks.

We only wish we could say that it was a misrepresentation. Sadly, anyone who regularly follows the independence debate on Twitter will find it all too true a picture.

Print Friendly

    2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

    1. 09 01 14 15:51

      Unionist of the year (so far) - Speymouth

    2. 09 01 14 20:13

      Scotlands Date With Destiny ¦ 18/09/2014 ¦ Unionist of the year (so far)

    46 to “Unionist of the year (so far)”

    1. Taranaich says:

      creatures you’d find slithering about in the dark slime under rocks.
      HEY. You leave those wee beasties that slither about in the dark slime under rocks alone! I resent the comparison of those noble, if squiggly, creatures to the likes of those mentioned in the piece.

      Back on track, I’ve been seeing that odious graphic in alarmingly greater regularity of late. It’s very distressing when people distort history like this.

    2. kalmar says:

      Dearth or death rev?

    3. Doug Daniel says:

      It’s quite funny that WE’RE the ones that get called “Cybernats”, and yet here’s the No campaign apparently being led by a couple of absolute loons.
      Also, how much tweeting must a person do to be a bigger presence on Twitter than Duncan Hothersall? These two bampots must literally spend every minute on Twitter. Either that or old Duncy boy was considered too extreme…

    4. Jimbo says:

      Anyone with a modicum of intellect looking at that image would immediately know that the persons responsible for it do not have a modicum of intellect.

    5. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Dearth or death rev?”

      I meant to say death, in line with the article I linked to. “Dearth” would be a valid word there too, but the thing is that there DID used to be some, and then it died.

    6. Patrick Roden says:

      The last thing any MSM outlets want to do is direct undecided towards Duncs tortured squirming on twitter.
      Duncan’s obvious dishonesty must be one of the best recruiting tools for Yes.
      His latest classic: I’m delighted that the Tories are paying for us to gain votes for the Labour Party.
      It’s pointed out that Duncan is accually saying that he is delighted that Labour is funded by the Tories.
      Duncan erm… I was…what I meant was…that the They are paying for us to win votes for Better Together… erm it’s not my fault if you are confused and thought I meant something else.
      You couldn’t make it up… but Duncan already did. lol.
      So all of you scaredy cats who have been bleating about MSM bias and how we will lose the referendum because the big bad giants of Westminster will use them to deceive us stupid Scots… Duncan and Ian Smart and Grahamski are the kind of Labour activists that help design the Labour Party message, they are useless and will trip themselves up as soon as any real pressure is put on them.
      This pressure won’t come from the MSM, it will come from the inevitable rise in momentum for ‘Yes’ that BT /MSM have desperately tried to stop.
      Just watch them ("Quizmaster" - Ed)s have their personal melt-downs.

    7. TheeForsakenOne says:

      Mr. Hothershall was not named because he’s a party activist and constituency party chairman. They specifically chose non-partisan twitter feeds which are apparently hard to find if they were stuck with those two…

    8. Patrick Roden says:

      Hope it’s not too early rev but I have noticed that one of your links from twitter has something about UKIP and the Tories, doing a ‘Vote Swap’ deal to make sure Milliband does not get in at the GE.
      You can delete this post and even do an article on the story, because this could be very significant.
      I wasn’t able to access the story so I’m not sure of the contents.

    9. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

      And for those of you who actually want to know the truth behind the Arthur Donaldson claims, here is a very thorough article:

    10. desimond says:

      How does that old song go again..

      “Those days are passed now
      And in the past they must remain
      But we can still rise now”

      Och you know the rest!

      I cant access any archive from work but trust the famous Swastika Saltire is covered somewhere … .stay classy Scottish Media!

    11. auslander says:

      Is the unnamed facebook page just a bunch of “hur dur, Salmond is fat and rong” photos with impact text pasted onto it? I’d like to see someone articulate on the No side but these guys don’t really fill me with hope.

    12. desimond says:

      This harking back to darker days is nothing new…..i present…George Galloway…

      “I really urge Scotland’s Catholics to be careful what they wish for, because the SNP has, in its roots, a Tory, anti-Catholic mentality. William Wolfe, former leader – before Alex Salmond’s time but still within my lifetime – called for the Pope to be banned from visiting the country.”

      To balance it up mind…heres George on an old friend :

      When I first met him 35 years ago Darling was pressing Trotskyite tracts on bewildered railwaymen at Waverley Station in Edinburgh. He was a supporter of the International Marxist Group, whose publication was entitled the Black Dwarf.

    13. Cath says:

      I stopped reading that page you mention ages back – it’s vile. The organisation behind it is vile, as are the handful of blogs it’s linked with.
      The odd thing is that over recent months, the official Better Together pages are approaching becoming even worse. They appear to be populated with a handful of tortured obsessive and paranoid lunatics. I can’t imagine they do anything but put off any unsuspecting undecided who happens to wander onto the page. Yet there appears to be either no moderation, or the moderators are OK with this.
      Perhaps that’s what you end up with when you routinely delete and ban anyone who’s debating politely on the other side and you’re just posting lies and fearmongering, but it isn’t pretty.

    14. Brian Powell says:

      These types are poisoning democracy but the greater threat is a Party which turns against those it claims to represent.
      Witnessing Labour’s overwhelming fear and hatred of the SNP, and through it everyone who supports Independence, points to the collapse of the Labour Party.
      The supporters of Indepedence are ordinary members of the public yet Labour have joined with the Conservatives against them.
      This won’t harm the Conservative Party, which in fact shows great allegiance to its natural supporters.
      Labour has turned against a huge section of society who would have shared it’s values, when it had values.
      2011 really taught them nothing, looking at Labour politicians and activists there is still a sense of ownership of the vote in Scotland, without need to prove they deserve the votes.
      The original structure of the Labour Party included many working men and women as well as intellectuals, but the orginisation now is populated by professional, career politicians who have only ever been Party members.
      If we look at the Communist Party in China and Russia and right wing Parties of Germany and Spain, there was the same Party ownership of power. The civil service of the old Chinese Empires was the same.
      I would think this Party structure shows where the disconnect has come from. The next tactic, the next ploy, the behind the scenes deals are more important than the people they claim to represent.
      I see it in the politicians we only see in TV or newspaper interviews. There is Ian Davidson making comments in the House of Commons and in Commons committees. Jack McConnell who is going to debate making the Commonwealth Games, politically ‘neutral’, in the House of Lords, Carmichael tough in the newspapers, feeble in real debate.
      They can’t face the people whose votes they claim.

    15. joe kane says:

      It can be a bit disorientating to realise that many people across post-WWI Europe were admirers and followers of Mussolini and his party. It has to be remembered fascists didn’t represent then what they were later to become. Emerging from World War I Mussolini and his fascists initially represented a fresh start from the old ways and a criticism of the people that had led Europe into a horrific industrialised bloodbath. He even represented avant garde artistic movements such as Futurism, Vorticism etc. 

      Good people, however, quickly wised-up to Mussolini’s Italian anti-democratic police state and abandoned him except, of course, the likes of Winston Churchill and many figures in the British establishment elite who still admired the Duce, (along with Hitler) well into the 1930s when any remaining questions about the character of the man and his regime had been answered.

      As well as the Swastika on Sunday newspaper atrocity, the National Collective was accused of fascism on Twitter by a famous composer because of the alleged connection of nationalism and socialism to far-right post-WWI European politics. MacDiarmid’s name was mentioned and his endorsement of fascism used as proof except, once McDiarmind realised the real nature and threat posed by fascism, he denounced it and fought against it for the rest of his life. That’s not something you could ever say about many of the leading lights of the inter-war British establishment who stood back and let the fascists take over Spain and were quite happy to see the Nazis aggressively expand in Europe as long as he posed no threat to their beloved empire. 

    16. Jim says:

      Its interesting that the UK government at the time of WW11 had to actually introduce measures to stop some professions in Scotland from joining up. Too many of them had already did so and it was getting beyond bad. We actually had a troop manned solely by Doctors, another by Teachers and another by Miners etc!
      Its also interesting that the UK government had the opportunity to release secret papers on the treatment of those in Scotland that supported self-determination during said war in the 1980’s but decided not to release them until 2030!
      Obviously they have something to hide otherwise such Better Togehter secret papers would have been released a long time ago.

    17. gordoz says:

      Swastika ? Scotland ?
      Er the Unionists have the best connections to Germany on autocracy dictatorship & fascism via the royal family. Would they like pictures of Lizzie plastered in Nazi symbolism because of her er humm, real family name, Uncle Eddie’s pre war links, husbands family connections & background ?

      Christ think of the loyalist ibrox clubs nickname guys – ‘huns’
      How bloody childish – countrymen ? 

    18. Gillie says:

      Perhaps this piece was written by Prof Jim Gallagher before he took up his newish role as an ‘independent expert” at Better Together.

    19. Kenny Campbell says:

      Maybe these posterboys mentioned actually work at the Herald….stranger things happen

    20. gordoz says:

      A good read suggested by Dep FM (dont want to post direct link to Scotsman – Rev does not like it), but its there under.

      scotsman// ib-hansen-nordic-alliance-sets-example-to-scots-voters

    21. Helena Brown says:

      Thank You for posting the vote Jingly Jangly.

    22. Doug Daniel says:

      TheeForsakenOne: “Mr. Hothershall was not named because he’s a party activist and constituency party chairman. They specifically chose non-partisan twitter feeds which are apparently hard to find if they were stuck with those two…”
      Ahhh, good point. I did think it was odd because I can think of others who I assumed were more active than the two weirdos chosen. As you point out, they’re all party activists or work for MPs/MSPs. Mind you, in the case of activists like Allan D. S. Smith, there wouldn’t have been much difference between them and the two chosen.
      It’s quite heart-warming though. It basically says that the only people who support the union are absolute nutjobs, or party apparatchiks. Can’t say that about independence!

    23. gordoz says:

      Good headline poster over on YES Scotland about Cameron !

    24. kalmar says:

      O/T is this another primary school meals deal?
      “When it comes to energy, the SNP have set out plans to use the powers of an independent Scotland not simply to freeze bills, but to bring them down by 5%, or some £70 each year every year – a policy which Labour refuse to support.

    25. Schiehallion! Schiehallion! says:

      The lack of historical perspective in that scurrilous wee collage is not something to be surprised at, but thank goodness for Wings and other sites that have the stomach to nose out and expose such muck. The best that can be said for the fools who published it, as others here have noted, is that in tearing down their accusations by exposing their ignorance to honest scrutiny, a great deal is brought to public notice about the true circumstances of those days, when the same sort of arguments were made and beaten down by Westminster, and the likes of R E Muirhead had to deal with similar sorts of prejudice and worse.
      The difference of course is that he did so without the benefit of the sort of platform provided by sites like this, that can clear the air and allow the proper and compelling arguments to be taken forward rationally, decently and powerfully to the people who really matter.
      Thanks by the way for those links, especially the universality of cheese, who could disagree; and joe kane for the useful and concise bit of history that confirms what I remembered myself, and adds more forbye.

    26. Andy-B says:

      The Herald and Scotsmans game plan, must be to implant, a kind of nazi like persona of the nationalists,in the minds of the public and hope when the farcical celebration of the beginning of WW1 comes around, that somehow, their mis-direction to those pathetic sites will trigger a negative effect for the YES camp.
      Just how far will the likes of the Herald and the Scotsman stoop, over the next nine months, when they’re prepared to direct people to such unsavoury site at present. This kind of attack on proves that the YES camp are gaining the upperhand.

    27. Andy-B says:

      Heres one for the  SNP decriers to look into.
      The mysterious death of Willie MacRae

    28. alexicon says:

      The unionist facebook page you refer to here is probably an orange order front and the 30,000 likes along with followers are probably outsiders from places like England & Northern Ireland, so I wouldn’t fret about that support.
      The yanks have picked up on the YES side winning the debate on twitter.
      I also noticed that the UK Government is taking more direct action.
      “The Unionist campaign is further behind, but the UK Government is getting its act together and setting up a structure that will see ministers in Scotland much more regularly pushing the case for the United Kingdom. A pro-union campaign website has also been set up – – focusing on the positive case for retaining the United Kingdom.”
      It seems that the UK Government know the real implications to Scotland’s Independence-them losing money!
      “This debate will rage over the coming years, but it is important that lobbyists across the UK are aware of the issues – this won’t just affect Scotland. The implications of a Scotland with much stronger financial powers will impact businesses, charities, government bodies and individuals right across the UK. Most of our employers will want to avoid the political arguments, but we must prepare to engage.”
      Why don’t they tell the truth to their own people, that we’ve been subsiding them.
      What was that website again? Ah yes:

    29. Les Wilson says:

      Oh we can expect much more of this stuff.

    30. Paul says:

      Hope you don’t mind rev but just voted on the  poll linked by jingly jangly and while it doesn’t give numbers it gives the percentages. at the moment yes has 90.9% of the vote also an update on the No Scotland running poll has No at 3502 -12.55% and Yes at 24412- 87.45% either the better together lot don’t have access to the internet or the official polls are down right lies. 

    31. Robert Louis says:

      Thanks for pointing out the link to the YES scotland article, which raises a most interesting question, regarding Cameron’s fear of debating with Alex Salmond.  The general premise (and it’s a good one), is,  if David Cameron isn’t right to debate Scotland, then why is he right to govern Scotland??
      Well worth a read.

    32. david says:

      either the better together lot don’t have access to the internet or the official polls are down right lies
      down right lies it is

    33. Jingly Jangly says:

      I suspect that Bitter Together have realised that they are on a hiding to nothing online be it polls or any debate, so they have stopped encouraging their side to take part.
      Or could it be that they are just a small delusional rump!

    34. Albert Herring says:

      Paul, you can get the number of votes if you hover your mouse on the pie chart.

    35. Adam L says:

      Attacks like these online don’t shock me anymore, but at my checkup at the dentist’s in Hawick yesterday, an independence conversation sprang up in the waiting room between myself, the receptionist, and two other women.

      The elderly lady who brought up the topic seemed apprehensive on the notion of independence, but she also didn’t claim to be too informed on the subject; moreover, she was startled when I mentioned the levels of Yes support in Dundee.

      The young lady on reception, similarly, said she didn’t know anyone in the town personally who was in favour of it, but hadn’t formed any strong opinions herself yet. She pointed out the close proximity of the Borders to England as a speculative reason of sorts.

      It was the middle-aged lady who did it for me. Perfectly pleasant in demeanour but a self-professed Conservative voter, she had complained to her local school that her child was being taught about Labour governments and policies (shock horror!). She prophesied that independence would be disastrous, though that it wouldn’t happen in any case, and finally fulfilled Godwin’s Law by comparing Salmond to Hitler. I was querying with her how a man with a democratically-elected majority vote and liberal immigration and welfare policies could be compared to a fascist dictator, but my appointment was called and I had to take my leave.

      As I said, discourse with this woman was perfectly calm and polite, but that’s the bit that scares me a little. How many other nice, innocuous-looking citizens have shallow and simplistic political opinions lurking beneath the surface? A recent ITV Border poll, indicating only 11% of South of Scotland voters (i.e. Dumfries and Galloway, Lothian and Borders) are on the “Yes” side, suggests too many.

    36. Morag says:

      Heres one for the  SNP decriers to look into.

      The mysterious death of Willie MacRae
      I don’t think you’ll find anything definite.  PC McPlod thought they were dealing with a simple car accident and their first priority was to get MacRae (who was still alive) to hospital.  They tramped all over any evidence there might have been with their size 13s.

      It’s a weird incident, but theories that he was murdered by MI5 or whatever have as many problems as the theory that it was some sort of peculiar suicide.  Unless someone talks, I don’t think anyone is ever going to know.  And there has never been a coherent story of why he might have been killed either, other than he was SNP and he was causing the nuclear industry some grief.  And there were supposed to be some missing papers.  But what was in them?

      If MacRae was murdered, how come nobody else?  You’d expect multiple bumpings-off to keep the nats down, but no.  What hasn’t been achieved that might have been achieved if MacRae had lived?  I don’t know what happened, but I find “looking into it” remarkably unsatisfying.

    37. Alisdair says:

      Taranaich, sadly such name calling has been going on for years ‘the 6th century writer Gildas who speaks of the Picts as:
      “..foul hordes…like dark throngs of worms who wriggle out of narrow fissures in the rock when the sun is high and the weather grows warm” (Gildas De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae, The Ruin and Conquest of Britain).
      please see link (apologies in advance Rev, second time poster if this causes problems)

    38. Chic McGregor says:

      Gildas had at least the merit of being from Scotland.  You should draw your Bede elsewhere for true venom.    


    39. cirsium says:

      @Morag – Hilda Murrell, another anti-nuclear campaigner, was murdered in 1984.

    40. Alisdair says:

      Chic McGregor


    41. mrsspykes says:

      So glad you picked that up. Sure Billy would have expected to be dragged into the mud, all being fair game in love and politics, so had it been about him then that’s annoying but sort of to be expected. But don’t violate his picture on the grounds of someone else’s biography!
      I feel a little less outraged now.

    42. Kevin G says:

      A bit late to the party here, but just wanted to thank you for highlighting this ridiculous graphic. I knew Billy Wolfe and frequently talk to his widow, Kate, having married his next door neighbour’s daughter. You couldn’t hope to meet a kinder man than Billy Wolfe.

    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