I defended Peter A Bell to the hilt in my last blog, and Peter being Peter, he was not at all happy about it. In fact that's the understatement of the century - so far he's posted nineteen tweets on the subject, most of them highly abusive, and just for good measure I awoke to an abusive email from him this morning as well.
Here are the nineteen tweets in full. Make yourself a cup of tea and put your feet up, because we're going to be here for a while.
Tweet #1: "I note that James Kelly (Scot Goes Pop) persists in peddling lies."
Tweet #2: "It's bad enough we have British Nationalists misrepresenting the views of Yes activists without self-proclaimed independence bloggers joining in."
Tweet #3: "I will be posting this at intervals until James Kelly (Scot Goes Pop) removes the lies."
Tweet #4: "Actually, I may keep on posting this even if James Kelly does remove the lies. People should know he's a lying wee s***e."
Tweet #5: "James Kelly (Scot Goes Pop) asserts the right to lie about me while blocking me so I can't respond to his lies. In my eyes that makes him a despicable a******e."
Tweet #6: "This lying little t*** has had ample opportunity to remove the lies from his blog. Apparently, he doesn't care that people know he's a lying c***."
Tweet #7: "This piece of s*** also lied about @CraigMurrayOrg. But at least Craig was able to respond. Kelly has me blocked so I can't expose his lies. How's that working for you, you lying wee nyaff?"
Tweet #8: "This will be getting posted all day every day until that lying b****** James Kelly removes his lies from his website."
Tweet #9: "James Kelly (Scot Goes Pop) is a verminous liar."
Tweet #10: "James Kelly (Scot Goes Pop) continues to decline my invitation to remove the lies from his blog."
Tweet #11: "James Kelly (Scot Goes Pop) is a brazen liar. I have NEVER advocated UDI. Quite the contrary. Please ignore the lying little a******e."
Tweet #12: "UPDATE: James Kelly (Scot Goes Pop) is still a lying f*****t."
Tweet #13: "James Kelly (Scot Goes Pop) isn't only a liar. He's also an arrogant p**** who imagines he has a right to maliciously misrepresent others' views with impunity."
Tweet #14: "Just checked and @JamesKelly (Scot Goes Pop) still hasn't removed the lies about me from his website. Maybe I need to write an article letting everybody know what a despicable liar this little creep is."
Tweet #15: "Will it ever dawn on @JamesKelly that he can't get away with lying. He'll be exposed."
Tweet #16: "I wonder how many other people @JamesKelly has lied about. I ignore his lying blog and only found out the wee **** was lying about me through a third party."
Tweet #17: "If lying little s*** @JamesKelly imagines there's an end to this, he doesn't know me. I detest liars. Particularly those that claim to be part of the independence movement. I have time. I won't let up."
Tweet #18: "If there's anything worse than a liar it's a stupid liar. Somebody who tells pointless lies which are bound to be exposed. Somebody like @JamesKelly (Scot Goes Pop)."
Tweet #19: "It is evident that @JamesKelly (Scot Goes Pop) has never read anything that I've written. And yet the arrogant p**** thinks he's qualified to represent my views."
And here's the email...
Subject line: "Liar"
Text: "Just to let you know I'll be Tweeting about what a lying piece of s*** you are for the foreseeable future.
Peter A Bell"
And this, remember, is his reaction to a blogpost in which I defended him. The mind boggles as to how he'd have reacted if I'd been mildly critical. You've gotta love Peter, he's a national treasure.
Now, somewhere in that mountain of repetitive text you may have spotted the actual substance of his complaint (it's not easy to pick out, I know). Essentially he's claiming that I was wrong to say he supports a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) for Scotland. But his denial might have a tad more credibility if he hadn't made it from a Twitter account that is currently named "Peter A Bell #DissolveTheUnion". Yes, folks, Peter A Bell is a strong and passionate supporter of UDI, but he just calls it something else and is apparently furious that I won't play along with his little fiction.
In November, I took part in an edition of the Through a Scottish Prism podcast with Peter, in which he helpfully set out his support for UDI in the following unambiguous terms -
"At some point somebody's got to do something bold and decisive, and there's nobody else who can do that but Nicola Sturgeon. So if you're asking about when, I would say in the next two months...I think it'll have to be in the next two months...I have actually stopped talking for the most part, I sometimes get led into it...rather than talking about a referendum, I would rather talk about action to resolve the constitutional issue, and leave that open as to what form that action takes. And there are a number of ways that that can go. I've made no secret of the fact that my favoured course of action would be for Nicola Sturgeon, and I'm just going to state this very briefly now, Nicola Sturgeon stands up in Holyrood and says that because of this, that and the next thing, we've decided that we will dissolve the union on such-and-such a date, subject to a referendum on such-and-such a date."
Neither the Scottish government, nor the Scottish Parliament, has the legal power to "dissolve the union". There is no debate to be had over that - it is simply a fact. Therefore if the action Peter is proposing is taken, it would inescapably amount to a unilateral declaration of independence. Peter is somewhat elliptical in his writings about the exact basis for his contention that this preferred form of UDI is not UDI at all, but from what I can gather it relates to the oft-heard belief that the Treaty of Union is something that the Scottish Parliament can simply decide to repeal at any moment of its choosing, in which case the union ceases to be in force and there is nothing to declare independence from, unilaterally or otherwise. That, not to put too fine a point on it, is complete and utter garbage. The parties to the Treaty of Union no longer exist, other than in the singular form of the United Kingdom Parliament and government. The present-day Scottish Parliament is not a continuation of the pre-1707 parliament. It draws its legal authority wholly and exclusively from an Act of the UK Parliament, and that Act specifically withholds powers related to the constitution. (And the legal authority of the UK Parliament to withhold those powers derives from the Treaty of Union itself, which invested the UK Parliament with all of the powers of the pre-1707 Scottish Parliament.)
As Craig Murray has pointed out, UDI can often be a highly effective course of action, because if enough states recognise such a declaration, the domestic legal position effectively becomes redundant. But a spade is still a spade, and UDI is still UDI. So, no, I regret to inform Peter that the accurate observations in my previous blogpost will not be deleted. On the plus side, that doubtless means I can look forward to being entertained by his wonderfully abusive tweets on a daily basis for weeks (perhaps years?) to come.
A couple of miscellaneous points: as Peter 'alludes' to (ahem), Craig Murray did indeed make a small correction to something I said in the blogpost about him, but I'm not sure that the correction has quite the cosmic significance that Peter is making out. I said that Craig is not in favour of a referendum, but Craig pointed out that he is not opposed to a referendum. He expects Westminster to refuse a Section 30 order, and wants Nicola Sturgeon to respond to that refusal by setting in motion a process that will lead to UDI.
Secondly, Peter has been banging on for weeks about how I've supposedly "blocked" him from posting comments on this blog, and as you can see he's now complaining that this means he hasn't been able to "expose" my "lies". I've explained this before and it looks like I'll have to explain it many, many more times before it finally penetrates his skull: not only is it untrue that I have blocked him from posting comments, it would be physically impossible for me to block him even if I wanted to. The facility to block individual commenters does not exist on this blogging platform - the only way of doing it would be to block all comments from everyone. My guess is that he encountered a technical glitch when trying to post a comment and has jumped to a wild conclusion.
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Scot Goes Pop fundraiser: If you'd like to help this blog continue during what could be an epic few months ahead, just a reminder that last year's fundraiser is still very much open for donations, and hasn't reached the target figure yet.