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By Jason Michael
Just when we thought it was safe to get back in the water… Yeah, we all had a bit of a rammy. I didn’t hold back in saying my piece, but we all agreed to bury the hatched – or I thought we had. Then came Mr McEnaney with his hatchet.
RISE’s rising star and writer for the unionist Daily Record and Common Space, James McEnaney, is one of those hierophants of Scottish political Twitter who enjoys painting those who disagree with him as bile spouting “blood and soil” racist nationalists. During my time at the Butterfly Rebellion we’ve crossed swords with him a few times. It’s always the same, he – in his own head being infinitely more intelligent than everyone else – gives us a taste of his vitriol and his rather amusing but pathetic superiority complex. He’s always good for a laugh when you’re in the doldrums.
Last week we found ourselves, as I am sure you can remember, at loggerheads with Common Space over its decision to side with Kezia Dugdale over her cynical and opportunistic accusation that Wings Over Scotland’s Stuart Campbell was a homophobe. Only today Robin McAlpine, a man for whom I have considerable respect, after returning from a trip to Sheffield, penned a piece in Common Space attempting to put ice on what he described as a “Twitter storm.” What he failed to mention, after commenting that there is “a substantial minority of you who want to live in a world of bitterness and mistrust and poison and smears and hatred and bullying,” was that it was Common Space itself that fired off all the bitterness and mistrust and poison and smears and hatred and bullying at Wings Over Scotland. This has sadly become a pattern of behaviour at Common Space.https://twitter.com/jetpack/status/892392939535704064
Without getting into it all again, however, I said my piece and decided to let it go, but I had a sneaking feeling that this wasn’t over. It wasn’t. Some of the personalities in this new media outfit are not the types of people to let sleeping dogs lie. These are people who like to be in charge. It was only a matter of time, I suspected, until they’d come gunning for me – and they did, and their assassin of choice was none other than Mr McEnaney himself. What he attempted to pull off was, I think, quite impressive.
He posted a tweet on Tuesday with a screen grab excerpt of the blog I published on Monday, “Independence First.” In this tweet he wrote, “The rights of marginalised people and groups are vastly important, but… [a drooling emoji] …*This* is the sort of bile I want nothing to do with.” Quite clever, I thought. You see what he did there, right? What he did was to construct a vulgar analogy to the racist cliché “I’m not a racist, but…,” where what follows is a blatant confirmation of the racism of the racist. He was telling his readers that I was not against defending and furthering the rights of marginalised people, but… actually I was – because, as a raving “blood and soil” nationalist – as one of his pals remarked – independence came first, even at the cost of people’s rights.
This was certainly how Patrick Harvie read it when he invented a quote which had me saying, “Your rights can wait, your equality doesn’t matter to me yet.” According to Harvie this was what I had “explicitly” said. But I said no such thing. Is that libel? What I actually said, for the benefit of Harvie and McEnaney’s followers, was:
Of course the rights of marginalised people and groups are important. The defence and the furtherance of those rights is not the exclusive preserve of Scotland’s unionists. Everyone has an obligation to defend the rights and protect the dignity and worth of his or her neighbour. That much is a given – or, at least, it should be.
…it is not being suggested that we simply ignore these other concerns. That too would be stupid. Neither is this a matter of “nation over individual.” That too is both stupid and dangerous. What we are saying in this – and this is important – is that no one’s rights will be safe, protected, or furthered so long as we remain in the United Kingdom.
What I actually said, Messrs McEnaney and Harvie, was that we have an “obligation to defend the rights and protect the dignity and worth” of everyone in our society. It’s right there in black and white gentlemen! But I suppose your agendas and the restriction to 140 characters made it impossible for you to accurately relate what my piece said. Following the “but” was not a contradiction of my support for people’s rights and the need to protect and further them, but a straightforward assessment that without independence none of our rights are secure or even effectively defended by a Westminster government that is all about “money and power over the needs and rights of ordinary people.”
Human rights are like the air we breathe, and we cannot but breathe. We must breathe or we will die. Why on earth would I suggest anyone’s – not to mention those of the marginalised’s – rights should be suspended? That would be “abhorrent,” and that was exactly the point. This was the very word used by McEnaney to describe the position he invented and foisted upon me. That was – what was it McAlpine wrote? – an act of “cruelty.” It was a lie.
If our rights and freedoms are the air we breathe, then – to extend the analogy – Scotland is our house, the home in which we live, and move, and have our being. We must breathe, for sure, but the house we are living in is on fire. The very atmosphere is toxic – and, no Mr Harvie, all those issues are not “already under our own control.” Our priority is to get out of the inferno.
Of course what I had written was not read this way. It was deliberately misinterpreted because it was intended to be a hatchet job. Shortly thereafter this colourful reading of my work was picked up by Angry Salmond – now “Angry Scotland;” another group account closely associated with the Common Space set, and retweeted from its new parody account – jokingly digging at those of us outraged by Common Space’s recent antagonistic antics – “CommonWings.” I knew perfectly well what was going on. I was being subjected to the astroturfing tactics of what would appear to be a small clique centred around the Common Space office.
Restarting the infighting – this “battle of the blogs” – will do no one any good. In under a week Common Space’s Twitter following has depreciated from 22.5 thousand followers to 19.8 today. This alone tells us that this carry on is self-destructive and counterproductive. It certainly hasn’t been a “battle of the blogs.” It has been Common Space on the warpath, overreaching, and getting burned. All of this needs to stop right now, but… And now I’ll use that “but.” Some very serious questions need to be asked about what is happening in Common Space. I would like to think that this is just a display of arrogance, yet in calling for what amounts to unquestioned and uncritical unity in the independence movement we had better be damn sure we don’t have a fox in the coup.
All of this was brought to my attention – because I wasn’t linked to the original tweet of course – when this amazing analysis on >>Tumblr<< was posted on my Facebook page. Have a read.
Controlling the Internet through “Astroturfing”
8 thoughts on “Portrait of a Twisted Little Man”
I’ve read your blog before and I have to agree with you on this, however I also agree on the fact that people can and often do interpret the info to their own ends. It’s probably the reason why I don’t blog about Scottish Independence anymore.
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This is just the latest episode in a long running series of a certain clique looking for any opportunity (no matter how petty) to attack wings. They see how popular and influential he and his site is and because they can’t have it, they want to destroy it. A lot of these people are driven by their own dogmatic idealism. Others I feel are hypocritically doing the exact same thing they accuse wings of – stirring the shit pot to get attention and boost their ego. It would not surprise me if there were still some unionist provocateurs trying to weaken independence by putting everyone at each other’s throats.
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Everybody should just shut up for a week. #timeout.
Well said; it seems common space – or McAlpine – only want the ‘twitter storm’ to end on their terms; getting quite sick of Common Space and McAlpine’s comments weren’t that helpful it looked as if he was trying to play the victim card – despite Common Space starting the stushie (and now spreading it out to other blogs) we should all stop because his staff are upset! Maybe a time for Haggerty and all at Common Space to start apologising.
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Robin was not too far off the mark, I’d imagine some words were said behind the scenes at common space. Bet he’s pretty miserable about the whole thing distracting from the good work they do.
*I actually lived in the same small town as Robin, his family are good people.
Yep. Robin appeals for peace, someone in his own camp fires off a musket ball. If I were Robin I’d be absolutely blazing about that. What chance peace and harmony when his mates trip that sensible idea up by sticking out a petty leg?
Had to laugh on Twitter today, well, not really; someone tweeted a reminder that Robin’s words should be taken note of and guessed what happened? two nice Indy ladies took that op to fire off various musket balls targeting Wings, Sheridan and complain about Robin’s ‘lies’ re WFI. I’ll do my bit for peace and harmony by not naming those fools.
Good stuff, Jason, I enjoy your words
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I knew there was a reason I didn’t buy the Daily Record or read Common Space or vote for RISE: thanks for reminding me why…
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Delusional the boy McEnaney and desperate for a bigger slice of the action. Cropping up all over the place, saw an article by him on the Ferret the other day. Usual stuff, attacking the SNP on education. Fair enough have your say if you disagree with a policy but he’s been milking that same article for about 18 months now. Would leap into bed wi the labour party at the first opportunity.
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