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By Jason Michael

IN A RECENT ARTICLE addressing the inconsistent political thinking of Scottish independentistas supporting the English pro-Brexit #PeoplesVote campaign I drew attention to Tanja Bueltmann’s strenuous defence on social media of her support of the campaign and her decision to quote “the great Femi Sorry” in saying “We love the EU because we love the UK.” Coming from Bueltmann, an academic who is on record stating she believes independence is the best way forward for Scotland, it was clear from the start this was not going to go down well. She was going to get some flack. This was my criticism of her position:

Tanja Bueltmann’s recent vociferous defence, as an independence supporter, of the need to fight for a people’s vote on the shape of the final Brexit deal reveals her confusion. She is protesting against the British state for the sake of protesting against the British state – and this is bad thinking.

We must be clear, the demand for a people’s vote is not a demand for another EU referendum. Those behind the campaign have made it clear that they accept the result of the vote. What they are looking for is a say in the final shape the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union will take at the conclusion of the Article 50 negotiations. This means that the People’s Vote campaign is a pro-Brexit political position and therefore an English political position. On 23 June 2016 the people of Scotland voted 62 per cent in favour of remaining in the EU, making Remain the democratically decided sovereign will of the people of Scotland. Support of a pro-Brexit campaign, then, is wholly inconsistent with the campaign for independence.

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No sooner had this article done the rounds on social media than People’s Vote supporters began taking issue that I “went for a woman.” Out of left field – as this is how trolling works, that Ms Bueltmann happened to be a woman, my criticism of her had to be somehow about me being a “misogynist” and a “sexist bully.” Former UK government negotiator and anti-Brexit campaigner Steve Bullock tweeted at me:

Odd that you went for the woman who retweeted the comment your headline alludes to, rather than the man that made the comment or any of the other speakers.

Why was that? Why was I interested in Tanja Bueltmann and not Femi? Simple: As a Scottish independentista who writes a pro-independence blog and who contributes pro-independence articles to a pro-Scotland magazine, I have no interest in Femi. His politics – English and anti-Brexit – are foreign to me. I couldn’t care less what Femi says about Brexit in the context of English politics. Besides, he has since taken to social media to explain his thoughts on Scotland, saying that “Scotland voted not once, but twice in the space of two years to remain an EU country.” He’s right, we did – and that is the sovereign will of our country.

The focus of my criticism was on Bueltmann, not because she was a woman, but because she is – or was – an independentista. She did not, as Steve Bullock wrongly said, retweet what Femi said about loving the UK. She quoted it in her own tweet in a laudatory tone that make her agreement apparent. Those of us in Scotland seeking independence will say it to a woman with the same force we will say it to a man – mainly because we aren’t sexists: We do not love the UK! Seeing this retweeted, quoted, or otherwise said or promoted by anyone claiming to support independence will provoke a backlash. It is astounding that Ms Bueltmann never saw this coming.

Yet, rather than acknowledge the upset her words had caused, and rather than do what Femi did when he explained himself, Tanja Bueltmann decided to hide behind the dishonest and cowardly – taking to Twitter to make sure her followers read my criticism of her bad thinking as a sexist and misogynistic attack. Her closing comment, addressed to me, in a thread about what I had written about her – which was all rather strange considering she has locked her account, meaning I had to ask others to screen grab her rant – was most interesting:

And Jeggit I hope you don’t think that you get to speak about my vagina without getting a block. Undoubtedly you’re going to use that against me too.

Oh yes, Tanja. I am definitely going to use that against you now.

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The “vagina” comment: One of her supporters on Twitter, a certain Stevie – a Corbyn based lifeform and a #FBPE cyber trooper, came to her defence with the words “Big brave freedom fighter attacking the woman who loves her adopted home.” Here two things were being weaponised; Bueltmann’s sex and the fact that she is a migrant. Apparently, according to Stevie and a few dozen other Brexiteers – yes, People’s Vote Brexiteers, women and immigrants get a free pass when it comes to being inconsistent. The assumption here, of course, is that women and immigrants aren’t as smart, and so ought to be afforded some leeway. But this is the real misogyny and racism. I don’t buy it. Bueltmann holds a doctorate and is a professor of history at Northumbria University. So, no. I happily subscribe to the idea of the intellectual equality of the sexes.

To make this clear to Stevie, I responded:

This big brave freedom fighter was pointing out her logical inconsistency. A vagina and migrant status do not protect people from criticism.

Now, just to set the record straight; I have no interest in Tanja Bueltmann’s genitals. She’s safe enough. Besides, “a vagina” – not her vagina – should have been sufficient for a professor to realise I was speaking generally, and I hold to this – albeit without the choice vocabulary; being a woman or a migrant does not exempt a person from valid criticism.

The criticism could not have been clearer. It is not possible for someone to support Scottish independence – fighting for the sovereignty of Scotland, a nation that overwhelmingly rejected Brexit – and be a People’s Vote campaigner – an acceptance of the subservience of Scotland’s will to that of England. This is a contradiction. But rather than addressing this in her devious thread, she chose to invent a situation in which I was abusing her for being a woman. That is disgraceful. This form of weaponised imaginary victimhood, used as an instrument to deflect honest and open discourse, is precisely what we are fighting against in Scotland. It is manipulative, intellectually dishonest, and cowardly. Scotland deserves better than this.

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Feminism: You’re doing it wrong!


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11 thoughts on “Dishonest and Cowardly Behaviour

  1. “It is not possible for someone to support Scottish independence – fighting for the sovereignty of Scotland, a nation that overwhelmingly rejected Brexit – and be a People’s Vote campaigner – an acceptance of the subservience of Scotland’s will to that of England. ”

    Indeed so. Colonialism is *always* racist and *always* exploitative.

    Bueltmann’s and the rest of PeoplesVoteScot Crowd’s argument is borne of an inherently condescending colonialist meme. We sweaties should forgo independence for the good of the Imperium. They consider our parochial colonial interests a trifle. For all their talk and all the cloying condescension of Bueltmann, they continue to think of us and treat us as untermenschen.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Was the good Professor making her comments in a personal or professional capacity (on behalf of her renowned institution – and are they aware that fact)? If the latter, then by all means insist on Mr McCann using her (well earned) academic title but if she is simply speaking out as a private citizen voicing her personal political views…

      But really, if you want to be pedantic, then she really should be referred to as Dr as that is a recognised title in the wider world while Professor is simply an academic title that means little outside the world of academia. I mean, Sheriffs can expect to be addressed as My Lady in court but can hardly expect the barman serving them down at the local pub to use such titles otherwise it risks getting a little bit silly, doesn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Being a woman or a migrant does not exempt a person from valid criticism.” Absolutely right, and I’m also sick of the constant misuse of the word misogyny. But you should have used a phrase like that, rather than objectifying her or other women by referencing one part of our anatomy.

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  3. People who support her either don’t know what she’s like or are deliberately ignoring it. I’m a remainer but I cannot stand her for the way she always reverts to the same behaviour. I’ve watched her engage in the same crap for more than two years now. Every time she gets a differing opinion or people call her out on something, even if its tiny she ALWAYS reverts to this same pattern of response. Straight away with cries about ‘misogyny’ and ‘sexism’, almost always it’s men that she targets. Instances I’ve seen include getting others to delete their stuff, or she tries to wrangle her way onto some talk show or something. I’ve seen her pull it a few times with BBC journalists. Trust me, this woman doesn’t have an ounce of integrity in her body; all her “anti-Brexit” shtick is to make a name for herself and her imperious ideas about what she is and isn’t entitled to in her “heart homes” (utter nonsense term).

    Just be really careful with her. A while back she claimed to have received threats but instead of actually producing evidence she just listed them out. When she got asked for evidence again the same kick off and claiming “sexism!” and “abuse!”. It all got really heated in various remainer places on Facebook and that’s when I realised the kind of person she is. All I’m saying is be careful because she pulls this “victim of abuse” thing all the time and almost always it’s because she’s angling for something. Invited to speak somewhere, being interviewed, whatever. You think you might be engaging in some sort of debate with her but her whole shtick is to ante up so she can then go on to get more attention for herself (money, writing opportunities, whatever). Oh and I’m female by the way so it’s not like I want to “get back at her” or “secretly desire” her or whatever she’s claimed about others before. Awful woman.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. @Jeggit

    There are 2 different critiques in your post – Prof Bueltman & Steve Bullock. Prof Bueltman and her tweets (particularly the response to @Rog_Anderson that really seemed to kick sand in peoples eyes) is its own story.

    However, I wanted to put in a plug for @GuitarMoog (Steve Bullock). His and @ottocrat ‘s Cakewatch podcast has been some of the most insightful and thoughtful musings on Brexit I have come across (Particularly Ep 8).

    It is clear these 2 are struggling as they come to the realisation that their previous positive beliefs about Westminster [Exceptionalism] where fundamentally mistaken. Now they are stuck in a halfway house where they can’t un-see the truth of Westminster but they have yet to plug this new realisation back into their wider thinking.

    As much as I admire Steve, his August 19 twitter thread on this is full of inconsistencies that don’t hold true to his own podcast ideas. It’s a mish-mash of:
    …..Westminster the mother of parliaments (who didn’t need a written constitution)
    Vs.
    …..Westminster as a rogue overtaken by an “executive coup”

    But his tweet 17/17 shows potential openness to discussion:
    “….a no deal Brexit, will make that [independence] harder to achieve, not easier, and harder to do well. If I didn’t believe that, I’d stop campaigning against it.”

    If Scotland’s YES movement’s prize is Independence and he actually can see the realities of a rogue Westminster…then I think it is possible to take him up on this offer.

    In relation to his tweet’s Scotland arguments no longer hold water with his own podcast positions.

    1 – A Scotland/rUK boarder is not the same as the Irish boarder. The GFA means it is an impossibility….Scotland’s would just be a boarder….and why would an independent Scotland care if England remained in the EU…Even Steve acknowledges in the podcasts that UK staying in the EU would only lead to Bexit extremists undermining any decision to stay.

    2 – iScotland needing time to organise agreements….SO DOES THE UK…How is it a problem for Scotland worse that it is for UK….Brexit is a shitshow and Westminster no longer has any status quo. As iScotland won’t have the same red lines as the isolationist UK its potentially far easier for Scotland to deal with EEA or EU.

    3 – He appears to be conflating stopping Brexit with a People’s vote. It is yet to be clear if any vote will occur or if it would include a remain option…In his podcast the case appears to be based on mass public outcry convincing the Tories….HUH? Even with the never-ending dystopian announcements Tories still lead in the polls. His case is that Scotland is meant to put its eggs in such a long-shot with no political champion – frittering away its chance to save itself from a Brexit that he states would be “catastrophic”.

    Stopping Brexit is not Scotland’s prize…Now Scotland’s future (and its sovereignty) is only secure by dissolving the Union. For Scotland it’s no longer about Brexit itself even if it was stopped. Westminster has shown it does not respect the terms of the Union…it’s broken.

    4 – His points infer that any Scotland referendum is largely a matter of its own choosing although he does hint that Westminster may stymie it. He has yet to factor in what happens if Westminster is able to totally neuter the Scottish parliament (as Peter Bell and others have been documenting). Henry VIII powers in the hands of a rogue executive are no joke….particularly when we have been given the heads up about the massive staffing of Mundell’s UK Gov in Scotland.
    Scotland has the mandate, Scotland currently has its parliament and political institutions capable of dissolving the Union…What chance does it have if those are gone?

    5 – There is a fundamental conceptual flaw in his statement: “But it is probably the only route to stopping Brexit”.
    – If Brexit is the UK leaving EU then Scottish independence technically means there is no more UK
    – If Scotland becomes independent it has no need to stop Brexit. rUK leaving is for rUK to decide
    – If Scotland follows his path and they can’t stop Brexit…Scotland may be trapped forever.

    All of us are victims of our cultural programming…when our fundamental frameworks are turned upside down it takes a while to realise the full ramifications. If Steve is a “consequentialist” as he states in EP21 and for him it’s about “keeping your eye’s on the prize”; I hope he is able to extend the same courtesy he gives “British in Europe” to YES and Scottish independence.

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  5. @Jeggit

    YES is still in the process of calving out its own political space. The issue is that many are trapped discussing independence with a Westminster centric language…that gives default dominance to itself and by extension negates the other.

    The only way to really construct a space for independence that puts independence as a valid centre means constructing a new more precise language….and yes sometimes it is important to call out where we fall back into those lazy Westminster centric expressions.

    It’s not a job anyone will thank you for or be happy about…but it is important for some to carry that flame.

    Like

  6. Social media has a short memory. So most people won’t notice the hypocrisy in this article. The final paragraph very accurately describes a quite despicable, and a regretfully common practice, of using a contrived allegation of socially unacceptable attitudes as as “an instrument to deflect honest and open discourse”, or as a cudgel wielded in some personal vendetta.

    I am in a position to sympathise, having myself been falsely accused of sexism on a number of occasions for just this discourse-deflecting purpose. But replace the accusation of misogyny with a charge of being a ‘Nazi sympathiser’ and you have precisely the situation invented by Jason Michael in the course of a debate sparked by the presence of a certain banner on Yes marches.

    I truly detest hypocrisy.

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    1. Peter, thanks for getting in touch. I am glad at least we can a agree the use of ‘sexism’ as a means of shutting people up is deplorable. It hurts the victims of real sexism and damages social discourse, which is bad for everyone. To the best of my knowledge I did not call you a ‘Nazi sympathiser.’ I certainly have not thought you one. I am truly sorry if that is what you took from our discussion on that subject. Let me make my position clear, from what I have read and understand of SnG it is a racist far-right organisation. This is evident from what it publishes about itself online.

      Personally, I do not want to be associated with this sort of ugly ideology and I am more than happy to share my thoughts on it. That said, however, your desire to include them – as I understood it – was to keep the movement broad and to unite all voices for independence. That is not sympathy. I said at the time that I saw this as well-intentioned. If I believed you to be a Nazi sympathiser I would have unfollowed and blocked you – and not the other way around, and I certainly would not be platforming you here. So no, for the record, I will say it: I do not think you are a racist, a Nazi, or a Nazi sympathiser. I have never thought this of you.

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