OK, I’ve been biting my tongue in regards to Yes Scotland for a while, because I think it’s counter-productive to criticise allies in a cause. However I will speak on this singular occasion, in what I hope to be a constructive if firm manner.
In the comments under a post which more or less confirms what everyone already knows about the Scots’ future as EU citizens, Scots Renewables posted an email he received following an inquiry regarding their refusal to allow leaflets with Wings Over Scotland’s site address to be distributed with their own material.
The response was as follows.
Thank you for getting in touch with Yes Scotland.
Yes Scotland’s job and the task for all supporters over the next 89 days is to persuade undecided voters not only that we can be a successful independent country, but that we should vote Yes so that we can make sure our nation’s vast wealth and resources deliver much more for the people living here.
We know from our research that this is the key to shifting those currently undecided towards a Yes vote. We need to focus 100% on communicating Scotland’s economic strengths and potential as one of the world’s 20 wealthiest countries and, from this, make people think about how we can better use this wealth for the benefit of them, their families and the whole country.
We have to get our message to undecideds pitch perfect if we are to win. And, that means we cannot endorse, or direct people to, an information source that calls our opponents “scum”. Such language turns off the people we need to support us. Its use enables our opponents to brand our movement in a damaging and unfair way. It takes our focus off the work that we actually need to do if we are to secure the movement we need to Yes in these final few weeks.
Very best wishes
Yes Scotland Team
Scotland more than pays its own way in the UK. Scotland has generated more tax per head than the rest of the UK for each and every one of the past 33 years.
Become part of the greatest grassroots movement in Scottish history by visiting http://www.yesscotland.net/volunteer
Yes Scotland Ltd. is a company limited by guarantee and registered in Scotland (SC422720). Its registered office is at 136 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 2TG
I have immense respect for Yes Scotland, but I really cannot agree with refusing to direct people to any information resource when they need all the help they can get. I understand Yes Scotland’s reasoning, but I think it is a huge mistake to refuse to acknowledge Wings’ essential contributions to the debate on the basis that the site owner called a Conservative MSP names.
You are never going to get your message pitch-perfect, because a: nobody is perfect, and b: your opponents are not going to let that get in their way. If you’re going to cut Wings off because of something the Rev said, then you might as well cut off the SNP because of Brian Souter’s anti-marriage equality campaigning, or the SSP because of its various ills. This is, in my opinion, an incredibly stupid and myopic decision by Yes Scotland: to allow their opponents to set the tone by artificially elevating Rev’s language to “abuse,” that means that you are not actively utilising one of the single most powerful, influential and convincing sites available to the entire cause.
I have been immensely patient with Yes, because I believe they have the right approach with the campaign. They are playing the long game, waiting until the final weeks to go guns blazing. They are letting Better Together’s spurious arguments and misrepresentations wash off them like waves crashing against the basalt cliffs of Fingal’s Cave. Half the arguments have already dissipated into effervescence – the Triple A rating, the currency, pensions, roaming charges – while Yes bides its time, waiting for the deathly strike. I think Yes have been brilliant in supporting the wider grassroots campaign, fostering a sense of responsibility among the people of Scotland for their future. But this?
Wings is one of the most important contributors to the debate. The owner and operator, Rev. Stuart Campbell, has been the target of criticism – fair and unfair – for years now. He’s also been the recipient of smears, stalking, abuse and all manner of attacks. His journalistic interventions rival that of Newsnet Scotland, his analysis some of the most concise around, his repository of documentation from both sides indispensable, and the community some of the most generous and encouraging folk I’ve ever met. And it isn’t just the Reverend: the site has excellent material from Scott Minto, Cath Fergusson, Dr. Morag Kerr, Douglas Daniel, Julie McDowell, Ray McRobbie, Robert Bruce, and more. By refusing to “endorse or direct people to” Wings, you’re refusing to endorse or direct people to not only the Rev’s brilliant work, but to the vital information in the repository, the fantastic work from the dozens of other contributors, and to the thousands of commentators who bring their own valuable contributions. All for the sake of calling a politician “scum”?
It’s perfectly fine for them not to consider Wings “part” of Yes Scotland, but I think it’s inexcusable to exclude it, or to expressly refuse to endorse or direct people to it, based on something that is completely and utterly irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Are Yes Scotland willing to jeopardise our only chance at this historic event for the sake of being nice to their opponents – for the sake of acknowledging their fake indignation? After everything Darling and Sarwar and Davidson and Murphy and Lamont have said? After Melissa Murray, Humza Yousaf, James McMillan and others have been attacked, threatened, bullied and outright assaulted? We should be working together – and we will. I will not renounce my Yes Scotland membership, nor will I discourage anyone from associating with them or utilising their resource. But I do hope that Yes will realise that we cannot afford to give Better Together a single inch in the name of respect – certainly they will not extend to us such a courtesy.
Don’t do this, Yes Scotland. Don’t let the same people who are perfectly happy for their leader to call SNP supporters “blood and soil nationalists” deprive you of one of your staunchest and bravest allies.
EDIT: It appears STV are talking my language:
Campbell is angry but it’s a genuine anger. Whatever one thinks of his politics or rhetoric, he cannot be charged with inauthenticity. If his site is where political doubt goes to die, that is because a sizeable number of Scots feel their views (left, nationalist, counter-hegemonic) are not reflected in the mainstream media and yearn for a full-throated articulation of a radical Yes position. The battlefield is no place for self-doubt.
Wings is arguably the most exciting, invigorating, and innovative entrant to the Scottish media world in recent years. Bella Caledonia and National Collective contribute intellectual firepower to the Yes cause but they perhaps lack the killer instinct. Campbell takes Unionists out at the knees.
EDIT the second: The Wee Ginger Dug has put up a very heartfelt post about another dimension of the debate, following a similar post by Logic’s Rock made last year. It regards a topic which I did not discuss: being gay, transgender or a woman, I felt I had zero real ability to offer any sort of insightful comment on the controversy. All I felt I could say was that Rev is not equivalent to even Brian Souter: he is not campaigning against marriage equality or transgender issues, he does not base his entire public persona on that, and he does not donate money to parties with a focus on those issues. He does not discriminate against anyone from commenting or even posting on his blog until they’ve proven themselves a troll and in direct contravention of the site rules. He does not engage in sustained personal attacks from his own side, or demand people choose between reading Wings or reading Better Nation/Burdz Eye View/A Thousand Flowers etc.
I don’t agree with his stance on transgender nomenclature, but it’s just that: disagreement. I also don’t agree with him on many things from faith schools to television. If you can’t tell the clear difference between disagreement and abuse, then I don’t know what we can talk about. Disagreeing or criticising with Rev is fine, but there comes a point where you have to ask whether it’s worth maligning not only Stuart Campbell as an individual, but the dozens of contributors, scores of regular commenters, and thousands of readers because of his own personal statements, in the name of tolerance.
EDIT the second: Marietta Rosetta offers a feminist perspective.