Wings Over Scotland has 53,000 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.
Tonight, however, we have managed to lift the veil. Most of the suspicions I have had about the sickness within AUOB and most of the sources I have listened to have proven to be correct. There has been a profoundly diseased culture growing at the head of this organisation. Earlier tonight Neil MacKay, the current director of the AUOB, and Carol McNamara, chief administrator, came onto Scotland at 7 on Broadcasting Scotland with me to answer some fairly serious questions myself and others have had. Their candour was commendable. What they had to share was quite obviously difficult.
Had I thought this was the end of the insanity, I was wrong. The next morning, before heading east to Kirkcaldy, I was greeted by an email from Dale Miller at The Scotsman. Having failed to take me down with a rag, the union was upping its game. Miller’s task was to finish the job – I realised that much. On the train to Kirkcaldy I knew a juggernaut was headed my way, but I had no idea quite how vindictive this hack was going to be. He wanted a response by close of business. I told him he’d have it, and, so, after everything was wrapped up at the Kirkcaldy...
Antisemitism – the hatred of Jews – is real. It is a real form of racism. As, arguably, Europe’s oldest racism, antisemitism is pervasive throughout western society. As it affects all of society it is unarguably true that there are anti-Semites and people who, for whatever reason, pass on anti-Semitic ideas, conspiracies, and opinions within the SNP and the wider independence movement – as these entities reflect broader society. But Fiona Robertson is right, we need a better definition than is to be found in the dictionary. How then do we define this particular racism?
Papers have standards. Yes, we can all see the humour in this statement when we are talking about The Herald. It employs David – you’re all “bots” – Leask! But even in comparison to this low-level “journalism,” Angela Haggerty has always somehow managed to lower those already bargain-basement standards. No one seriously rates Ms Haggarty as a writer. As has been discussed before on this site, her analysis and style are wanting, and I would not be the first to suggest she was taken on by The Herald as an easily controlled pro-independence voice.
Who exactly gives Mark Zuckerberg the right to say what we can and cannot express online? Sure, clear cases of hate speech and incitement to violence should – by law – be removed and offenders brought to book, but we already have laws for that. It’s upsetting that Facebook can remove content it arbitrarily finds unpleasant or distasteful. But it is a private company; it’s Facebook’s platform and Facebook’s rules. But what’s really concerning – even worrying – is that governments appear to have a say in what and what can’t be shared on the site.
All we have to combat this insidious beast are the tools at our own disposal. We have the internet; blogs and vlogs, social media platforms, video hosting sites, and so on. Behind these we have a small and growing army of dedicated writers, artists, content creators, and social media wizards. These are people with skills who are learning on their feet the tools needed to address the incessant propaganda of the unionist media and deliver effective and timely counterpunches.
Putin’s Russia is by no means a righteous victim of US and British propaganda. Just as the European Union, the US, and the UK have their own geopolitical interests, so too does Russia. When it comes to the game of propaganda, counter-propaganda, fake news, and misinformation they are all as bad as one another. Yes, RT may have thrown the Scottish independence movement a few bones, and Russia’s meddling in the Brexit referendum may prove to be to our benefit, but we cannot afford to be uncritical the methods. The crippling of democracy in the UK...