Stu Campbell of Wings Over Scotland is in many ways the Marmite of Scottish politics. He’s got a legion of fans, and he’s got a legion of haters. I don’t always agree with him, but what can’t be denied is that single handedly he does considerably more for the cause of Scottish media accountability than the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the BBC Trust, and the combined complaints departments of every single Scottish newspaper. Now Stu’s Wing’s account has been suspended from Twitter. The suspension was allegedly after complaints from a so-called journalist who was upset that she’d been called out on insulting inaccuracies in an article she’d written for a gutter rag that passes itself off for a newspaper, and that Stu had described to her in a Tweet as “an utter disgrace”.
Stu Campbell is rude, opinionated, loud mouthed, and often insulting, but’s he’s right about the Express. The article he was complaining about was a travesty of reporting which bore no relationship to the reality of the independence campaign and which was a blatant attempt to stir up the more atavistic supporters of Unionism. It was irresponsible journalism at its very worst which was a bawhair short of an incitement to violence. Stu Campbell was right to call the newspaper and the reporter who penned it out for it. He’d have been failing in his core mission if he hadn’t. If Twitter is going to suspend everyone on their platform for expressing a perfectly valid opinion in a non-abusive manner, they’d be as well just to close the entire thing down.
What the entire episode smacks of is abuse of power by the mainstream media. Because Stu’s comments were directed against a journalist who writes for a national print publication her complaints were given more attention by the heid bummers of Twitter than a complaint by a random punter. Well I say complaint. Greetin like a wee spoiled wean who’s been told off for unacceptable behaviour is a more accurate description. Getting your critics removed from Twitter simply for daring to criticise you is exactly what the phrase “an utter disgrace” describes.
So far we’ve yet to see the Scottish mainstream media come to his aid. There is a marked double standard in the Scottish mainstream media when it comes to abuse. The practictioners of Unionist media are free to say what they like in print or elsewhere about the independence movement, unconstrained by anything that approaches good taste, common decency, or even reality, but any push back from independence supporters who feel that they’ve been traduced and insulted counts as abuse. It makes no difference how justified it may be.
In recent weeks we’ve seen allegations that STV’s digital editor Stephen Daisley, who spent his online time on Twitter trolling independence supporters, was bullied and silenced by an SNP MP. Daisley was well known for making repeated unfounded accusations that the independence movement is motivated by anti-English racism, for his hauf-airsed ignorance about Scottish languages, for general snarkiness, for promoting the notorious misogynistic troll who goes by the pseudonym Brian Spanner, and for displaying a blatant right wing bias that might be acceptable in the print media but which isn’t in a broadcaster with a statutory obligation to balance.
Daisley seemed to interpret his role as being to provoke some individual independence supporters into verbal overreactions, and then he could claim how appalling the independence movement as a whole was. Funnily enough he never does this with the more extreme and unpleasant supporters of Unionism. Poor Stephen got articles of support written in assorted newspapers and media outlets because an SNP MP complained about him, and we were all invited to sympathise with the poor dear and his struggle against the one party state tendencies of the SNP. All this transpired even though there was and is no hard evidence at all that Daisley has been sanctioned by his employers in any way at all. What his supporters were objecting to was the mere fact that one of their own had been criticised by an SNP MP.
We had a similar outbreak of officially sanctioned sympathy when the Conservative Unionist commentator David Torrance flounced off of Twitter in a huff. Davie is the man who is famous for being able to turn every subject into an SNPbad story. He’s one of the people who propagate the insulting notion that Scottish politics have been Ulsterised. Even his report on a Donald Trump rally in the USA was turned into an attack on the SNP. It’s quite a remarkable talent really. Wee Davie had made a clumsy attempt on a telly interview to fend off a Scottish Six news programme, which independence supporters immediately leapt on and ripped the pish out of in a typically Scottish way, ridiculing the idea that Scottish people can’t have a telly news programme because we cannae operate cameras. David went into a beardy sulk and announced he was leaving Twitter. He got a piece in the Times to breathlessly describe the abuse he’d suffered as a Christlike martyr to the cause Scottish Unionism. But on the third day his Twitter account rose again.
We saw double standards in the Daily Mail’s shameful “outing” of so-called cybernats and doorstepping ordinary members of the public for daring to support Scottish independence on social media. We’ve yet to see the same amount of attention given to the legion of foul mouthed trolls who spend their online time traducing and insulting and abusing in support of the Union. Just yesterday I blocked a troll on Twitter who claimed that the Spanish dictator Franco was more liberal than Nicola Sturgeon, a gross insult to Nicola Sturgeon, but more importantly also to the hundreds of thousands of victims of Franco’s death squads and concentration camps. That was just an everyday and unremarkable occurance of a not very witty insult – but remember the paroxysms of outrage from Unionist politicians in the mainstream media when some independence supporters referred to them as quislings. Quisling was a Nazi, they pouted in horrified disgust. It’s the same sort of behaviour, yet only one side is to be castigated for it.
As long as the double standards exist we need people like Stu Campbell. As long as the independence movement is held by the mainstream Unionist media to standards which the mainstream Unionist media refused to abide by itself, or which it doesn’t expect of Unionist supporters, we need people like Stu Campbell who will fearlessly prick the bubble of their arrogance and entitlement. Get your act together Twitter. #FreeWings
Audio link to this blog article, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-12th-sept-2016
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