By Jason Michael

Police forces around Britain wear a crown in their insignia for a reason. So when we hear of pro-independence activists being arrested – and released without charge – we can take it with a pinch of salt. It’s part of the game.

Wings Over Scotland creator and blogger Stuart Campbell was arrested last Friday by Avon and Somerset Police at the request of the Metropolitan Police in London following a complaint from an unnamed woman. According to various reports in the media this woman in her 30s complained that she had been the subject of abuse and harassment by Campbell over a two year period. Apparently no one informed her that Twitter had a block button. Campbell, however, strenuously denies the allegations, stating that all his tweets are still visible and are not in any way abuse or threatening.

There are at least three possibilities here. One is that Stu has been awfully rude – as he frequently is – to this poor woman and she has overreacted and gone to the police rather than simply block the Wings Twitter account. It is possible, although there is no evidence of it on Twitter, that Campbell has been abusive and threatening. But then it may also be the case that something else, something more sinister is going on. Overreaction is always a possibility. Stuart Campbell can be awfully naughty in his use of the vernacular. Yet in the five or six years I have been following Wings I have never seen him engage in actual harassment or make a single threat.

When we put all this in the political context of what is happening around Stuart Campbell at the moment, it becomes at least possible that he has become the target of political soft criminalisation. What is this? Criminalisation is the process by which there is a change in legislation making certain actions illegal and therefore punishable by the courts. Soft criminalisation is when the impression of criminality is manufactured – typically with the help of the media – in an effort to inflict legal reputational damage on an opponent – typically a political opponent.

Most recently we witnessed how this was expertly done by the BBC to the SNP MP – now former MP – Michelle Thomson. She had committed no crime, but in the going about of her legal private business as a property developer she employed a solicitor who was later implicated in mortgage fraud entirely unconnected to and unknown by Ms Thomson. Yet her mere association with this man was enough for her unionist political opponents and the British media to set about fictionalising a legal case against her. She was never under suspicion, she was never arrested, and she was never interviewed under caution. None of this mattered. The BBC, in particular, framed its coverage of this story so as to create the impression she had been involved in criminal activity.

Once this impression has been made the victim is criminalised de facto in the court of public opinion. It worried the SNP leadership enough to put pressure on her to quit the party, and has subsequently completely railroaded her political career. This was a job well done by Scotland’s unionists and the British media machine.

Soft criminalisation is a very effective political weapon in the hands of any state establishment, and has been used countless times against people and organisations which have become too great a threat to the status quo. One never needs to break the law to be the target of soft criminalisation and therefore thought a criminal. After all, in a democracy, it is the thought that counts. What the public think – quite independent of the facts – is what credits or discredits people.

We may be under the illusion that our reputations are protected by the law and that false accusations can be proven to be untruths in the courts. They can of course, but what a court finds has no bearing on what the media choose to report. The accusation can make headlines; emblazoned on the front page of every newspaper in the land, the lead story on all news broadcasts, while the eventual decision of the court can go unreported or misreported – as was the case with Michelle Thomson. If the papers make a [deliberate] mistake, retractions can be printed months afterwards in small print on page whatever – only, not the front page.

No charges need to be brought against Stuart Campbell. The police can investigate and find the accusations to be utterly spurious. This doesn’t matter; the headlines have already been printed and read. The damage – insofar as his credibility is concerned over the rest of Scotland and the UK – is already done, and there is no way for him to effectively respond. The one who throws the mud always wins. When asked how one responds to such mud-slinging attacks, Noam Chomsky said: “You really can’t. There’s no way to respond. Slinging mud always works.”

Following Campbell’s arrest and release it was surprising to discover just how many pro-independence activists said on social media that they too had had visits from the police in relation to accusations made against them. In every case no charges were brought. The mere mention in the press – at any future date – that someone had been arrested and questioned in relation to “CyberNat” abuse online is enough to discredit them.

Given that the unionist press in Scotland – practically the only press in Scotland – has already fabricated the stereotype of the “CyberNat troll,” it is already well understood that such soft criminalisation is an option in the unionist arsenal against independence supporters. Once we take into consideration the fact that Stuart Campbell is taking Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, the darling of the BBC in Scotland, to court for defamation – a case he will in all likelihood win – his threat to the establishment becomes more apparent.

During the 2012-14 independence referendum campaign Wings Over Scotland was – and largely remains – the most influential politics blog in Scotland. It goes without saying, then, that the political establishment, with the help of some useful political policing, would stand to gain a great deal with the removal of Stuart Campbell. Naturally some – even some independence supporters – will urge caution. What if he is guilty? What if he is?! If he is then he will be punished, but if he is not then one more key player has been victimised by this malicious unionist set piece. Our only response must be nothing short of innocent until proven guilty and unwavering solidarity until the facts – and only the facts – say otherwise.


Paul Murphy TD: What is political policing?

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24 thoughts on “The Soft Criminalisation of Pro-Independence Activism

  1. That last sentence is EXACTLY what Wings is about. FACTS.

    This, above all else, is what the cabal of media moguls can’t quell. Won’t ever quell.
    His combative style is merely added salt on the s**t sandwich of outrageous mis-truths being force fed daily to the public by a UK media cabal to perpetuate myths and falsehoods, even outright lies about Independence.

    They’re scared beyond reason that full and verifiable knowledge of Scotlands ability to be independent, and all that that means for them in Westminster by way of loss of power and wealth that these insidious practices and new “laws” are being created and used to silence those determined to show the reality as opposed to the myth.

    Wings’ in-depth destruction by facts is invaluable.
    His language, merely represents the rage he, and we, SHOULD feel at Westminster’s connivance to restrain Scotland at all and ANY cost.

    It’s for others to use, more diplomatic language and softly softly approaches if they want, but BOTH approaches are needed in order to wake people up to the reality of what the true “value” of Scotland to Westminster really is.

    It’s NOT love of Scotland.

    Or even the “UK”.


  2. Yes. I agree. And when you consider the wider “Great British” establishment, that covered up, protected, possibly even encouraged the likes of Jimmy Saville(Sir), Edward Heath our prime minister, and killed anyone dissenting, complaining or enquiringly; then we can understand the true might of the “Great British” establishment. It’s also why I cannot foresee independence for Scotland being allowed to happen. Wars have been started for less.


  3. It’s obvious this is a set up just like Julian Assange,Why did it take her 2 years to complain,I smell a rat. We will have another indy/ref by the autumn of 2018 -spring of 2019 ,the Rev played a really important part in the last one ,his wee Blue Book was invaluable to the YES campainers.Turn people against him now then come the time no one will believe a word he says.This is the government we live under in WM ,anyone with a descenting voice is silenced .Knowing the Rev I very much doubt it will silence him ,it will probably have the opposite effect.The damage has been done to his reputation, I will watch this space to see if anything comes of it or as in the case of Michelle Thomson the SNP mp ,no charges were made ,no interviews, no case but the damage was done just the same & we lost a good MP.


  4. You know, apart form the fact I strongly doubt Campbell is guilty of diddly-sqwat, if he *were* found guilty of the charges, I reckon he’d survive that mini-rumbling – by a very long chalk. Are you kidding me? the single-most powerful, poetically arrogant and ballsy – and informative – agitator in the Yes movement is suddenly going to become impotent? Nah.

    You simply cannot silence a dream, and Stuart Campbell is stoking-up the fires of that dream with the kind of information, and inspiration, that ensures that dream will very much become a reality. Campbell’s traveled too far on this epic journey now – all of us, side-by-side – that their amateur attempts to tarnish him will backfire on them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is one of the best articles I have read on how the Brit State tries to take out perceived threats to its existence. Absolutely first class. Congratulations!


  6. Excellent article. Makes one think. I wonder if Rev’s technology equipment was confiscated as part of the investigation into this ‘complaint’? Thinking deeper – was this a set up from the start to gain access to his technical equipment?

    Who knows.

    Anyway – this morning I discovered a file on my PC I didn’t even know was there or how it got there. It was a plant. A begonia I think. My new wallpaper. Could have been much worse I suppose. I mean, imagine my PC was then inspected by HM finest and they (ahem) ‘found’ some really dodgy plants there – that could really screw up your life. All it would need for the plant to get onto your tech equipment is for TPTB to have unrestricted access to it. Just sayin’.


  7. Anyone with an ounce of sense is aware that agents of the State exist in the shadows to manipulate the media, infiltrate and undermine dissent and should their tactics fail, to remove any perceived threat to the status quo by whatever means. This is the tip of a very long and sharp spear


  8. Enjoyed reading your article, it’s about time the SNP and Independence movement formed a press machine to intervene on some of the rubbish the media are spouting and getting away with down right lies


    1. If there’s one reason, it’s Kezia. Stuart’s good name and reputation are important in his defamation case against Kezia, which is due to come to court while he is still on bail for this nonsense. What price that good name and reputation now? It looks very much as if the police have been instructed to move forward with this 11-month-old vexatious complaint from a probably-drunken woman to nobble Stuart ahead of the defamation case.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. The attacks on Independence supporters are going to get worse. When The Herald allows one of its regular columnists – Chris Deerin – to liken Independence supporters to the KuKlux Klan, as he did last week, then what can you expect?


  10. Bill Brown, in his early 20s, was arrested and imprisoned in Glasgow in 1953 for THEFT. The Courts did not allow any evidence that he’d worked with other young nationalists in removing (and burying) Johnstone Cadet guns that might have been used in confronting nationalist demonstrators. I was 17 when I took part in the raid. The SNP executive officer who’d coordinated our group went into exile. I did the same, and have never returned. I wrote about this in a memoir, RETIRED TERRORIST, hoping some Scots might acknowledge there were people who’d confronted the real terror: a state which quietly manipulates our courts and the media. I learned how effective the oppression can be when, attending a Scottish society event in the country which has accepted me, I was told by the Scots events officers that – as a terrorist – they could not allow my participation…!


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