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By Jason Michael

SHORTLY AFTER MIDNIGHT on Sunday news began circulating on social media that the Wings Over Scotland Twitter account had been permanently removed from the platform – a verified account with a following of some 58,000 users. The significance of this loss to the online campaign for Scottish independence should be lost on no one genuinely interested in independence, and when I read the news my heart sank. Shortly thereafter Stu Campbell, the owner of the Wings website, posted a brief article acknowledging what had happened. “As some alert readers have already noticed,” Campbell wrote, “our Twitter account has been suspended again…” The difference this time is this was not a spell in the Twitter sin-bin, this ban is “supposedly permanent.”

In characteristic style, Campbell had entered the fray in the gender debate and suggested that Pink News’ Nick Duffy sounded like a bit of a “cunt” after he and others had unleashed a an “unprovoked, nasty and highly personal attack on gender-critical feminist Helen Lewis.” Naturally, Wings’ opponents leapt on this opportunity to report his “hateful conduct.” Strictly speaking, use of the c-word – for which I do apologise – is not a violation of Twitter’s rules, but any number of things may have contributed to this decision. By virtue of the partisan political nature of the website, Wings Over Scotland has no shortage of enemies, and Stu Campbell’s personal views on the gender debate have attracted a highly organised and dedicated set of online trans activists who have it in for him as well. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that the human decision makers at Twitter HQ in San Francisco have their own opinions on this debate too.

This may have been a decision made on an accumulation of reports made to the platform, or the wording of his tweet may have been interpreted to fall foul of the targeted harassment rule. Neither can it be ruled out that there may have been some British government involvement in Twitter’s final decision. But, regardless of what the straw was that broke the camel’s back, the result was that Wings was permanently banned. The owners of the account have lodged an appeal, but are not holding out much hope. In a short chat with Stu Campbell yesterday morning, he said the situation was “absurd,” concluding only “let’s see what happens.”

Losing Wings on Twitter is a blow to our cause and I will unapologetically take his side to do what I can to persuade Twitter to reconsider its decision. Obviously – from the mixed reactions on social media yesterday, not everyone in the independence movement agrees. A poll I posted to Twitter yesterday, in which at the time of writing over a thousand people have voted, indicates that 27 percent of independentistas believe it was “good for independence that Wings has been banned.” So, it is clear that a case has to be made.

Stu Campbell, of course, has his share of personal faults, and he has his own views on the politics of independence and the gender debate. Do I agree with him on these things? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Like myself and a number of other pro-independence writers, he has been outspoken and critical of the Scottish National Party. The SNP is not the voice of the independence movement, and criticism of the party is not treacherous to the cause of our nation’s freedom. The SNP has now won not one, not two, not three, but four mandates to put the question of independence back to the sovereign people of Scotland. Any employee who has to be told more than three times to do a specific task is not rewarded. They don’t get to boast they’ve been told a fourth time. An employee like this is handed their P-45. I support independence. At a push, I will tactically vote for the party to further the cause, but I’m critical of the SNP for having to be told four times while it’s busy down in London campaigning to stop Brexit after Brexit has already been rejected by the sovereign people.

Many of Wings’ pro-independence enemies are keen to point out that he was “brilliant” back in 2014, but once he began sharing his concerns about the SNP he had “lost the plot.” How silly can people be? Someone is not brilliant merely because they say the things with which you happen to agree. They are either good at what they do or they are not. What this concession says to me – that Wings was brilliant when I agreed with him – is that once Campbell started voicing uncomfortable truths many who recognised his abilities simply turned on him. What else it says to me is something about the author’s integrity. It takes immense courage to say unpopular things to a mass social and political movement, and we have to be wary of those who only ever say popular things – something for which a good few in the SNP have developed a knack. Integrity, it seems, is in short supply.

As for Campbell’s thoughts on the gender debate, I couldn’t give a fig. This is not my fight. Not that I think it is an unimportant discussion, it is. It’s simply not my discussion. But the standard reply to this is that I must not care about the rights of trans people or biological woman. Rubbish! I do. Yet, the fact remains, if I took it upon myself to fight every worthy cause, I wouldn’t be able to contribute anything of any substance to any of them. I write and I use social media to campaign for independence – and sometimes I write things my readers don’t like.

Still, neither my Twitter account nor Campbell’s is the property of the independence movement. These are still private accounts. From time to time I wander into other interests and passions of mine. My regular readers will see the odd prayer, theological reference, holy picture, or something about trains – yes, trains. Stu Campbell has every right to air his own thoughts on things other than independence. No one is forced to read these tweets or to agree with their content. Because he is passionate about his opinions on gender does not mean he is any less passionate about independence or dedicated and useful to our cause. Neither is it the case that defending Campbell’s right to use his Twitter account as he sees fit means that I agree with his opinions.

Again and again yesterday, prominent trans activists – including one person who played centre forward in the recent vicious campaign against Joanna Cherry – appeared on my notifications accusing me of misogyny and transphobia. At one point a Direct Message was discussed in which a number of SNP staffers and trans rights activists had listed the names of pro-independence accounts and bloggers who were to be shut down. This is enough to persuade even the most level-headed among us that there is a wee coup happening in the inner workings of the SNP. It hardly inspires confidence, and – as far as I’m concerned – it ends the trust.

Not liking Stu Campbell, his politics, or his opinions on other things is not a crime. While independentistas bleat endlessly about the dangers of Britain’s tactics of divide and rule, we hear no end of the “marmite” comments about Campbell and others who are doing so much for Scottish independence. But sure, you don’t have to like what we do. You don’t even have to like us. But shutting us down because you personally don’t like us is dangerous. It is corrosive.

Wings Over Scotland has 58,000 followers on Twitter. That is a phenomenal social media reach, made all the more important in the context of a bitter ideological and constitutional struggle in which we still do not have a pro-independence media a fraction of the size of the BBC and with a fraction of its reach and influence. Taking down the largest and most popular pro-independence website from Twitter is a monumental tactical blunder, and it will cost the next independence referendum campaign dearly online. Saying that Stu Campbell is only one blogger is as crappy as it is naïve. Do I want 58K followers on Twitter? Absolutely! But do I want Wings’ followers? – erm, no!

Wings Over Scotland caters to a very particular readership, and a very high maintenance readership at that. It is vocal, active, and in the main gruff and full of class – working class. I can say that because I’m working class. You can’t. Wings’ readers read Wings because he speaks to their demographic, something the SNP’s Byres Road Stasi haven’t a hope in hell of doing. But what the latte commandoes can’t get into their wee peanut heids is that the heavy lifting of independence is in the working class – in the grass roots, and there will be no independence for Scotland unless that working class movement is on your side. So, the constant sniping of the Frappuccino mafia leads me to think that these roasters don’t want what we want. Well, they don’t. They’re like the Tories in that they are to a lad and a lassie instinctual class warriors; their independence doesn’t include the working class – it’s the transfer of power from one dominant class to another – or nothing.

These people detest Wings Over Scotland because they detest the Wings constituency. This assessment, which is shared by Campbell himself, certainly puts the carry on over the idea of a Wings list seat party in a new light. But they can relax. At least for the time being they have downed the great beast from Twitter – the influence of the website will fall. But I’d like you, my readers, to sit back and think about what this means. The audience the SNP could never reach – a massive Scottish audience of working class voters – has just been dumped. They’ve been told they’re not wanted, they’re being mocked and humiliated by some smug little prick with a yellow lanyard and an Instagram profile. But they won’t forget this. No, they won’t forget this.

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Wings Over Scotland – Too Hot For TV


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20 thoughts on “Wings Banned from Twitter

  1. Last week I reported a person for stating that A.S. was a “rapist” and a “serial rapist”. I pointed out to twitter that a serious criminal case was ongoing in Scotland and that contempt of court laws may have been broken. Twitter said that no rules had been broken and no action would be taken. Awfy elastic reading of rules methinks.

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  2. Thanks for this Jason! I hardly ever use Twitter, but I do use Facebook, and I value Wings posts there. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen any for while. I know that some time ago Stuart had problems with FB.

    I’m deeply concerned with the SNP and their commitment ot an S30O as the only legal means of having a referendum. My preferred route would be to take Craig Murray’s advice and have a confirmatory referendum after the Scottish Parliament resiles the Treaty of Union with England.

    BTW did you see John Pilger’s The Dirty War on the NHS on STV last night? It’s imperative that everyone watch it. I think it’s available on STV Player. It’s about the English NHS, but given Boris’s likelihood of uniting all the NHSs for his trade deal with the USA, it’s relevant to Scotland.

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  3. Thank you saying this and so eloquently too. You speak for many of us Jason as did Stu. He still does. There are many voices to be listened to, some who we agree wholeheartedly with, others we can take or leave, it is our choice who to be influenced or educated by. I choose not to be dictated to by any one person or group but will form my own opinions based on the many views I encounter on twitter and other blogs.
    If this failure to cowtow to a wee minority group of very opinionated people makes us a target, I view that as their problem.

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  4. I tweeted Mike Small of Bellacaledonia yesterday, asking whether or not he supports Twitter banning Wings.
    He hasn’t responded.
    But I did get a steady stream of replies to that same tweet, from folk saying ‘no’ (i.e. they don’t support the ban) and I assume they must be BC followers. Mike’s dislike of Stuart Campbell is well known but it’s hard to see how BC can, editorially at any rate, support the taking-down of *any* site on such flimsy grounds.
    Meanwhile, characters such as Cameron Archibald are still celebrating the demise of WOS Twitter, so if this sorry incident has any silver lining it’s the exposure of these people – they don’t appear to be very bright generally and have probably done as much damage as they’re capable of.
    This morning I got a message from someone well-placed to know about such things that the SNP is preparing to tackle this ‘cult’ head-on.
    Can’t come soon enough.

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    1. That cult is endorsed from on high, make no mistake about that, I cannot see who will be taking them on, as they are encouraged in everything they do, from misogyny to racism to anti semitism, that which they accused Neale Haney of, his ‘crime’ was to sign the women’s pledge and to speak to for women Scotland, they actively post they will work from the inside, to have Jo Cherry and Joan McAlpine deselected, they are running riot, indeed running SNP at this time.

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    2. This cult have connections in high places, they are toxic to the Indy movement, yet get away with racism, bigotry,ant semitism etc posted openly on Twitter, they actively work to have people deselected they have their targets set on Jo Cherry and Joan McAlpine, they had Neale Hanvey accused of anti semitism, when his ‘crime’ was signing the women’s pledge, and speaking to women’s groups, this cults hell had no fury, NS etc, simply suspended a decent man then encouraged ppl not to help him, never mind he was standing as an Indy candidate for Independence, no, this lot will not be easily ousted. They aslo tagetted Grace Bridie, (Denise Findley) openly celebrating when they thought she resigned, with a substitute ready and waiting for her job, I hope your source is correct, but it’s going to take getting rid o a few high heid yins too.

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  5. I’ve just been banned for a week too.

    For saying to some absolute idiot:
    “That’ll be because you are a thick cunt”.

    Got this.
    Specifically for:
    Violating our rules against hateful conduct.
    You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.

    Now there is nothing there that fits my comment.
    Perhaps there is some crazy misinterpretation here about the word “cunt”, as it looks like many have been banned simply for using that word.

    Cunts.

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  6. Losing Wings insights is a LOSS to everyone who wants to see Scotland free of the UK.

    I’ve said a few things about Human (gender)rights, but mixing these with a Indepdence movement that includes the SNP but is not RUN by the SNP is ludicrous. We ALL have a right to be OURSELVES but what “Gender Actvist” (whatever that means) would shut wings down and then hope for something better from , say, a right wing neo-nazi cabal in London?
    We NEED a FREE Scotland so we CAN discuss complex issues, from Gender to Poverty with NO input from Unionist nut-jobs. And they ALL are. Don’t think for a second that ANY damned Unionist supports our freedom in Scotland.

    In terms of language? As DHLawrence said, ‘Fuck’ is a “good strong Anglo Saxon word” (or something of the like), if we are so damned petty as to support the censorship of someone for their language we are ALL Fuds/Boabys

    In short, we need Stu BACK. For all that’s good and bad about strong opinions at least FUCKING HAVE ONE and back it up with data NOT bleating.

    Stop playing by WM rules.
    Stop backing youself onto the pathetic Sec30 corner.
    Stop harming those whos hearts is in the right place (Independence) when thats the ONLY way you’ll EVER get SANE laws passed on Immigration, Gender RIghts, Schools etc etc. GROW THE FUCK UP

    .

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  7. I agree with what you’ve said here and if I can take a positive from it it’s that we need to emphasise to our ‘community’ that the movement has a number of components beyond the SNP.
    Let the British focus their Psy-Op offensive on the party; the people will guide and direct this movement from the ground up as much as possible.
    Still, it would be nice if the party were to have a purge of these Trojan horses and send them packing back to their MI5 handlers.
    Trains, you say?
    Not seen one of these posts of yours; as a fellow afflictee, I look forward to seeing one! 😊
    Keep telling it like it is, bud!

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  8. Hello Jason – I am not a fan of wings, but I have to say that I agree with you about this shut-down. I don’t use twitter or facebook so I am unfamiliar with the readership of these platforms but I seriously worry about the present approach to free-speech. I cannot understand why people are shut-down or no-platformed for having certain views. I remember the battles for freedom of speech and expression and to see the whole thing go in reverse is very worrying. I am of the old-school approach that even ‘offensive’ views should be allowed the room for expression – anything else is wrong. With regard to the question of the impact on independence in general as far as I am aware there is only about 22% of the population use it and the majority of those are under 30 so I am not sure it will impact too disastrously on the campaign.

    On another unrelated point Jason can I just say that I am now in agreement with you about the monarchy. You are right, it has to go. My position that it was irrelevant with regard to independence I still feel holds a little weight, but the bucket has a hole in it and the weight keeps reducing. On the general political level the monarchy has to go – undeniably – and in a moral sense the sooner it goes the better.

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