Monday, May 6, 2019

On the subject of "monetising the Yes movement"...

You're probably aware by now that the ostensibly pro-indy journalist Neil Mackay has been at it again.  Not content with his proposal a few days ago that would essentially make it impossible for Yes to win any future referendum by introducing a 1979-style "60% rule", he's now penned a dismal "exclusive" that continues his war against much of the Yes movement, and which prays in aid quotes by a number of senior SNP people who probably should have known better.  I'm inclined to agree with this response from Thomas Widmann of Arc of Prosperity fame -

"I've often thought the SNP leadership actually would rather be without a movement. Of course they like the membership fees and having somebody who will deliver their leaflets, but they'd rather people didn't speak or act in public if they're not paid by the party to do so."

Those who were quoted on-the-record by Mr Mackay were careful in how they chose their words (although I did roll my eyes to the heavens at Alyn Smith's conspiracy theory stuff about "false flag" Yes accounts, which if taken too far could easily lead us down a Leask-style rabbit hole where we'd all start accusing each other of being Russian agents).  But there were a couple of rather more provocative comments which, unsurprisingly, no-one was brave enough to put their name to.  For example:

"Much of this [Cybernat trolling] is about who can monetise the Yes movement. It’s about who is getting the most clicks, donations and subscriptions."

I have a shrewd idea about which SNP parliamentarian may have said that, although I won't name any names in case I'm wide of the mark.  But what I would say is that the individual in question almost certainly draws a salary well in excess of the income that anyone could realistically draw from a DIY fundraiser, so I'd suggest he or she ought to be rather more circumspect about accusing others of "monetising the Yes movement".  Just like anyone else making a living (either in whole or in part) out of their support for independence, he or she can only really justify that in the long run by producing results.

I don't particularly feel my ears burning at the mention of monetisation, because although I'm one of the relatively small number of Yes people who have fundraised over the years, I don't think anyone could (credibly) accuse me of using abusive tactics to advertise this blog.   But then again, if it's not someone like me, who are these mysterious people that are supposedly using abuse to generate an income?  Presumably the dig is partly directed at Stuart Campbell, simply because he's a bit sweary sometimes, but who else is there?  Let's be honest here: being a troll on social media is not a particularly effective money-making strategy.  If you look at the genuine trolls and ask yourself how much they're making out of it, the answer is pretty obvious: absolutely nothing.

I suspect the parliamentarian who made the accusation knows full well that there is no link between "Cybernat abuse" and "monetisation".  So why knowingly say something that isn't true?  I would guess it goes back to Thomas' insight: this is an attempt to pathologise any 'non-authorised' Yes activity.  It doesn't really matter whether you're coaxed into believing that 'unofficial' initiatives are motivated by money, or by support for Vladimir Putin.  Just so long as you end up believing they're all thoroughly illegitimate, that'll do fine.

UPDATE: I've seen one or two people claim that the widespread anger about Neil Mackay's article is misplaced because the criticisms within it are only directed at a tiny minority of the Yes movement.  But that excuse is deeply disingenuous.  Look at this quote from Stewart McDonald MP, for instance...

"just f**king chill out a bit, and you can quote me directly on that ... some of the anger is over the most absurd things...on the face of it you might feel that it’s a bit annoying that X wasn’t top of Reporting Scotland or this headline was particularly unfortunate – fine we all get p****d off with something like that but just chill out a bit and think about things in the grand scheme of things. I think sometimes they wind themselves up so much."

If Stewart thinks that people getting annoyed about the running order on Reporting Scotland is somehow part of a Cybernat online abuse problem, then he's the one that is losing the plot.  Stewart has a long-standing personal view that there's no great problem with the mainstream media, and he's perfectly entitled to that view, but I'm afraid that if his call for respectful debate is to have any meaning, that principle also has to apply within the Yes movement.  He can't just go around pathologising legitimate views that he happens to personally disagree with.  Forcefully making the point that the BBC buried their coverage of the Westminster power-grab last year does not make you a Cybernat troll.

Remember when Stewart complained to the Speaker about Dennis Skinner being appallingly rude to him?  I wonder how he'd have reacted if others in the Yes movement, instead of showing solidarity, had told him to "stop winding himself up so much" and to "f***ing chill out a bit" and to "think about things in the grand scheme of things"?  I suspect he might have had something to say about that.

UPDATE II: I've just caught up with the fact that Mhairi Hunter, the Glasgow councillor, expressed her sympathy with the article's agenda by saying "some Yessers are trash and we do need to disassociate ourselves from them because they are trash".  It goes without saying that this is appalling, dehumanising language that wouldn't be appropriate from anyone, let alone from an elected councillor.  It never ceases to amaze me how often the people who set themselves up as the civility police end up embodying the very thing they demonise others for.  Several hours after grudgingly accepting that she shouldn't have used the word "trash", Ms Hunter still hasn't deleted her comment.  I trust that those who have been most vociferous about online abuse will call her out for it, rather than nod along with it.

31 comments:

  1. This episode draws attention to some important issues. First, has the SNP developed a detailed strategy for achieving independence, including specific activities and lines of argument to be pursued at particular times and places, etc? If so, where is the strategy? Is it possible to read it? What does it have to say about the relationship between the party and other pro-indy groups, organisations and media outlets? A second issue is in relation to monetisation. I don't know if anyone has estimated how much funding is generated each year to support the independence movement. My guess is that it is not enough to pay for the kinds of things that we need - a rebuttal service, key individuals paid a salary so that they can devote themselves 110% to the movement, training for campaigners, internet and video work, etc. Look at the last Bernie Sanders campaign, or the work of organisations such as Greenpeace - yes, they are able to mobilise large numbers of unpaid volunteers, but they are only able to use them successfully because there is a core of paid workers who hold it all together, many of whom have specific IT or campaigning experience and expertise. I do not think that the SNP, as an organisation, has anywhere near enough funds to make these things happen - membership fees are very low. Apart from Wings, Bella and the Dug, other individuals and groups seem to struggle to attract enough funding.

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    1. This episode draws attention to some important issues. First, has the SNP developed a detailed strategy for achieving independence, including specific activities and lines of argument to be pursued at particular times and places, etc? If so, where is the strategy? Is it possible to read it?

      Is that the kind of thing you think it would be wise for them to publish?

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    2. While it's fair to wonder what, if any, strategy the SNP might have for winning Scottish independence, I'm glad those demanding it be published in fine detail aren't in charge of devising it.

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    3. There are a lot of people who read this blog. Presumably some of them are senior figures in the SNP. So far, none of them have joined the discussion and said that there is a strategy. In response to Keaton and Scottish Skier - no doubt (if there is a strategy document) there will be a version of a policy document that includes a lot of detail about specific contingencies, etc. It is unlikely that any organisation would allow anyone outside a tight inner circle to see such a document. But there also needs to be a version that explains to everyone see in the organisation, and bodies that are linked to it, what the plan looks like in broad terms. Otherwise, how is possible for anyone to know whether their efforts are going in the best direction, or are perhaps counter-productive?

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  2. The said Mackay caused a stir after last year's Glasgow march, when as editor of the now defunct Sunday Herald, his front page featured the counter demonstration to the march very prominently which gave the wrong impression of the good nature of the day, which produced a backlash by readers who were on the march.

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    1. I don't know if he's trying too hard to show how even-handed and dispassionate he is, but this tactic of trying to appease people who despise you while castigating those who support you doesn'twork. It looks needy and naive.

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    2. Just ask the Groundskeeper Willie Clown.

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  3. Surely 120k members at £3/ month could fund a lot? I would say a small team of 3 or 4 media people would be £20k/ month in a small office, doing rebuttal, fact checking and social media. After all, they would have the Wings and Prof Roberston material with zero effort. Further, it would cost maybe £200k (am guessing) to commission say 4 or 5 academic studies into BBC/ TV/ media bias, which would provide great ammo.

    Is this not obvious? I wonder what our leaders are actually thinking.

    Ronnie

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    1. Probably that they don't want to go to jail.

      Catalonia and Spain seems to have gotten them scared.

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    2. "Further, it would cost maybe £200k (am guessing) to commission say 4 or 5 academic studies into BBC/ TV/ media bias, which would provide great ammo."

      For the opposition maybe

      "This study proves the BBC is biased against the SNP"
      "Who paid for this study"
      "Err, the SNP"

      This who paid the piper reasoning happens with something as controlled as polls, so a 'study' would be even more suspect. Best leave the academic to raise their own funds from neutral sources through writing a grant proposing the study

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  4. I agree woth both yourself and John. Having now watched the SNP closely and spoken to people who attended the conferences and the policy days, there isn't a plan. Commonweal has undertaken more thinking about an Indy Scotland than the SNP.

    The SNP has now started.to attract the same type of "young strivers" that New Labour did - people who blow smoke up the arse of the leaders so that one day they too will get a seat in parliament. Meanwhile the long term rank and file are left like mushrooms.

    No strategy, no plan, no bottle. You can spot the frustration amongst some MSP and MP with the situation by watching their social media accounts.

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  5. All pro-indy politicians would be wise to support sites like scotgoespop and WoS. The traditional British nationalist media shows no signs of letting up on its anti-Scottish propaganda, yet some pro-indy politicians seem happy to be treated with disdain by such outlets.

    I honestly believe pro-indy politicians have nothing to lose in publicly castigating the British nationalist media.

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    1. The media have to represent all Scots including the majority Unionists. The Nat si get more than their fair share of coverage. There is nothing radical to write home about the Nat sis. They are just as beaurocratic as the rest. Halfing the Holyrood politicians should be priority. Being more voisverous about the Lords and EU wasters should be considered.

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    2. Are you in the Batcave, Cordelia?
      Where's Riddler?

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    3. The Mackay article was ill timed at best.
      But what has really really irked me is that so many SNP MPs and MSPs couldn't even acknowledge the 100,000 who matched in support of our shared vision - too busy deriding so-called cybernats to bother.
      My support for the SNP is now on a very shoogly peg.

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  6. I put it down to a certain rather nasty element in the SNP who are thoroughly pissed at no longer have control of the Yes movement.

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  7. All bloggers should use their real name, others should be taken with a pinch of salt.

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    1. Mr Purves we live in a nasty world. Giving names can lead to home addresses.

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    2. I'm not sure what you're getting at, William, but I can assure you that James Kelly is my real name. I sometimes wish that I did use a pseudonym, but I've blogged under my real name since 2009.

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    3. Millicent PorkesMay 7, 2019 at 7:38 AM

      Is William Purves your name? I thought it was a description of something William does and I always meant to ask you what purving meant. How does someone purve? Thanks.

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    4. Much the same with Bill thesweaty Palmer.

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  8. Stewart McDonald, MP: "just chill out a bit and think about things in the grand scheme of things." But what is the grand scheme? Where does the Herald article fit into the grand scheme? Party members and other independence supporters work at ground level - marching, distributing leaflets, writing blogs. It is people like you who have the responsibility to articulate the grand scheme.

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  9. It's kinda weird that the story Iver here us on the SNP leaders calling for an end to " online abuse" and the need to stop their own "yes" supporters from being nasty. Being seen pretty positively. Is this related ?

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    1. If I told you to stop beating your wife, that might be seen pretty positively, but there would still be a problem with it if a) you don't have a wife, or b) you're not beating her. And to answer your similar question from the previous thread: yes, Dundee is in Scotland.

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  10. Everything is related. The world is round.

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  11. Jeezo, Neil Findlay has called Mhairi out for the trash word!

    Personally, I thought her call for the trash to be neutralised was worse (and I like Mhairi).

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  12. If there's one thing voters absolutely don't give a shit about, it's what people say to each other on twitter.

    Sure it might be worth noting if your local MP is promoting Britain First, but other than that, who gives a crap? Nobody.

    Why are politicians so obsessed with the topic?

    Do they honestly think voters are like 'Well, I used to support being in the EU, then I heard a Remain voter called Bozo a prize fuckwit on Facebook, so now I back Leave'. Righto. This never happened - ever.

    Also, every second voter in Scotland is pro-indy. That means half the adults in every house in Scotland on average.

    When indy supporters were apparently a minority, with the subject rarely discussed, you might have been able to convince some DKs / unionists that nationalists were just a minority bunch of extremist nutters.

    However, Ruth is now on the telly telling people their husband/wife/son/daughter/gran/granddad/uncle/aunt whatever is an anti-English nazi hate marcher. Even the most rabid blue rise old Tory gran has a grandson who's backing independence; and they'll have talked about it more than likely.

    So all the 'hate marcher' thing does is hurt unionism, particularly given 7/10 Scots are Scottish first & foremost (forced choice natID), and either support indy, or are open to it (e.g Panelbase polling).

    And people are perfectly aware their are assholes wandering around, and that these vote too. There's no real need to write newspaper articles telling the public this; they'll be just 'Yes, I know, but can you get the fk back on to important things please?'.

    Anyway, the UK is collapsing politically / constitutionally (bye bye NI) while Yes 'tomorrow' is hitting 49%. All looking good.

    The 'It will never be the time!' is the last desperate throw of the dice from a PM that has no power to do anything / not even a mandate in England. And neither will her replacement most likely.

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  13. How does the old saying go?

    'Never interrupt your enemy when they are making the most epic fuck-up of absolutely everything in the entire history of their nation and haven't a hope in hell of sorting things out for a very, very long time'.

    Does require some patience, but probably not for much longer.

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    1. Scottish Skier. True, but as an aside, a woman in our close came to the door with an envelope and asked "Is there any Munchers in there?". I spun round and said "I feel sorry for you if that's your attitude".

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    2. I wouldn't have been able to be as polite as you. What a nasty woman.

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