Monday, May 26, 2014

Don't you at least have to know what someone is saying before you call them a bigot?

It was pointed out to me that I'd been briefly mentioned in despatches earlier today by James Mackenzie, supremo of Better Nation, and former Green media chief.  I had to search quite a way to find it, but here it is -

Colin Dunn ‏: "some SNP supporters were being misled by James Mackenzie's spin" Any comment on this?

James Mackenzie ‏: Guy's a Wings-loving tube and I don't read him. Last night perfectly substantiated my analysis of YouGov.

Colin Dunn ‏: Will look into your second point, but your first is irrelevant and, I’m sorry, just childish.

James Mackenzie : It's relevant. He gets unrealistically agitated and disproportionate about me because I point out his pal is a bigot.

Me ‏: No, James. If I have any problem with you at all, it's that you called me a woman-hater. Care to withdraw yet?

Me : Incidentally, it's extraordinary that you feel able to psychoanalyse my motivation for writing something that you haven't read!

James Mackenzie : I'm more just surprised to see you in my mentions: I was sure I'd blocked you for supporting Wings' bigotry. Remedied now.

Me : ·Now I'm totally confused. You appeared to have blocked me, I pointed that out, and you innocently claimed not to have done it.

I think James' attitude problem pretty much speaks for itself. The irony is that my spat with him last year began because he was so insistent that "our" side (ie. we both want Yes to win) are the ones who have the disproportionate problem with abusive and insulting behaviour. He's since gone out of his way to attempt to prove that point personally by calling me a "misogynist", a "Cybernat" and a "Wings-loving tube"! I fear we're probably going to have to look a bit further afield for our campaign's moral conscience.

Incidentally, his attitude of "if you displease me, you no longer exist in my world" seems to apply to a great many people. His conviction that Wings Over Scotland is "bigoted" gets ever stronger in spite of the fact that he has studiously avoided the site for years. That became painfully clear when he invited people to type the word "feminist" into the Wings search function and see what came up. When it was pointed out to him that the results showed nothing of any interest, he linked to the article he had in mind - and it was on RevStu's old site, not on Wings at all. It seems he wasn't even aware of the new Wings web address, even though the new site had been up and running for...well, I can't even remember how long, but a good while.

I do understand that the world can seem a calmer, fluffier place if you banish from it all viewpoints that you find distasteful. It would be absolutely fine for James to treat people like RevStu and myself as if we don't exist, but what isn't reasonable is for him to make serious charges of "bigotry", "homophobia" and "misogyny" in respect of sites that he openly admits he doesn't know the contents of.


  1. Is he right that his analysis of YouGov was substantiated?

  2. No. He wasn't referring to a full-scale YouGov poll, but to an unweighted Scottish subsample of a GB-wide poll (well, strictly speaking weightings were applied, but not ones that made the sample representative of the Scottish population). That subsample showed the Greens on 11% - far higher than the Green vote produced by any full-scale Scottish poll during the campaign.

    Basically what was so misleading about James' piece was that he pronounced that the SNP and Labour were incapable of stopping UKIP on the specific basis of the subsample's margin of error of 4.2% - ie. he was claiming that the SNP's share of the vote was guaranteed to fall between 22% and 30%. By definition, 4.2% cannot have been the margin of error, because it's impossible to calculate the margin of error for an unweighted subsample.

    I did think of leaving a comment on Better Nation to point that out, but I'm glad I didn't bother because on today's evidence James would just have deleted it instantly. Indeed, it wouldn't surprise me if someone else did attempt to make the point and wasn't allowed to.

  3. An Duine GruamachMay 26, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    That blog hasn't been worth reading since Malc Harvey left. A bit like Ask Jeeves or Veritas - it's one of those things I'm occasionally somewhat surprised to see still exists.

  4. Some of the Greens are clearly as censorious and intolerant of other viewpoints as Cleg's ostrich faction are.

    This Green media spinner is self-evidently a liability to his own party and he needs to look at his own pathetic behaviour before he attempts to castigate anyone else.

    Let's face it though James, it's not as if we didn't already know that the most cowardly and obnoxious people on the web are those who try to ban and censor any opinion that contradicts and challenges theirs. PoliticalBetting has operated like that for years and the spineless herd are only too happy to go along with it.

    Speaking of those trapped in the Westminster bubble, there was a remarkably biased piece by the BBC's political editor (and former National Chairman of the Young Conservatives) Nick Robinson on R4 not long ago. It was pure unadulterated BritNat spin, trying to completely gloss over the fact that the kippers only got 10% in scotland compared to their 29% in England and Wales, while totally ignoring that the kippers they came fourth while the SNP won in scotland. He also seemed to have his head stuck up Cameron's arse as he tried to spin away the tories coming third as nothing of consequence. Little Ed and Cammie were both utter crap at these elections in case he somehow missed the bleeding obvious.

    There was a far more illuminating report from outside Robinson's Westmisnter bubble when the BBC political correspondent Alan Little pointed out the facts on the ground in Edinburgh which were completely at odds with Robinson's 'better together' spin. No doubt he'll be severely reprimanded by the BBC upper echelons for competence and daring to speak the truth on a BBC News channel.

  5. David Leas of the Herald once called James MacKenzie "The Erich Von Daniken of taking offence"

  6. I find your analysis very useful, and thanks for all your work. I would, however, caution against getting into spats with people on the same side as you however crazy they may (or may seem to) be being.

    There is a much bigger prize at stake than any single personality. If we go down the route of castigating (however accurately or not) those pushing for the same outcome on Sept 18th then there is no way we'll win.

    Please keep your excellent eye on the ball and don't be diverted from it. You made a clear call on Thursday that James' analysis was wrong. That kind of intervention is helpful - it gives people a greater ability to make up their own minds. They can read you, read him, and decide.

    I realise it must be a pain if someone is laying into you. Best way of getting your own back is to just ignore it and get on with doing the job.

    Ok that's the personality bit, but as for the voting bit . . . I am a Green and I think the crucial thing is to NOT be tactical. I think being principled is exactly what this Independence process is about - not settling for less, insisting we can be all we can be, and not entering into the 'lesser of 2 evils' way of thinking that means you end up with evil either way.

    I think the Scottish Government is doing an extraordinarily good job and am behind its tireless work on bread and butter as well as on the bigger constitutional issue. But I don't agree with its business as usual approach to business, there are far more creative and fairer ways of meeting our needs, organising production, and ensuring we don't head over the ecological precipice.

    The Jimmy Reid foundation and the Greens have real solutions on these fundamental questions - but without independence there is no chance of realising them. So I have been voting SNP in the constituency vote, and voting Green on the list; and hoping we can continue to work well together.

    We need to work together, and leave turning on each other for the No campaign. I know that's not what you're doing here, and James doesn't represent the Greens any more than you represent the SNP . . . but I often find a word of caution from someone who means me well can be worth a hundred people agreeing with me!

  7. Hi Justin, I do appreciate the good intentions behind your advice, and you're not the first person to say something similar (David Officer and Craig Gallagher have both taken me to task in the past). However, I do feel it's important to be myself - this blog is a reflection of my personality, and I don't want to turn into a machine, weighing up every dot and comma according to the test of whether it will win or lose votes. I do tend to write about this sort of thing when it crops up, and it would feel very odd not to. But if it's any consolation, if this had happened last year I would probably have written fifteen paragraphs about it - I was sufficiently preoccupied with the European elections today to restrict myself to three!