Well, budding politician Stuart Campbell has now declared all-out war on this blog on social media - he's just launched a barrage of his trademark invective and abuse, including calling me a "c**t" on two separate occasions. It's blindingly obvious this is simply because he can't tolerate any dissent, however politely expressed, against his foolish plans to launch his own pro-independence party in competition with the SNP. For full disclosure, though, I should tell you he's claiming that's not the reason - he's insisting that the real explanation for choosing this remarkably convenient moment to suddenly decide that I'm a "c**t" is because I got one of his friends "banned" from Twitter, which he says is the most "despicable" thing he's seen recently. (The friend in question, who I reported because he also called me a "c**t" three times, is in fact only suspended from Twitter for seven days - a mild slap on the wrists that Stuart is trying with a straight face to pretend is akin to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.)
It's no secret that Stuart regularly lets himself down on social media - we've all seen it. But I think it's only really when you're directly on the receiving end of the abuse that you realise just how impossible it's going to be for this man to successfully launch a political career. An ordinary citizen, even a very high-profile blogger, can get away with things that the leader of a political party (and an aspirant Deputy First Minister, perhaps?) simply cannot. All that a half-competent journalist will have to do to discredit the Wings party in the eyes of voters is to read through Stuart's colourful tweet history...and it'll just go on and on and on. The only way that such a party could ever achieve a respectable vote would be on a sort of "Trumpian" basis, ie. by attracting voters who are indiscriminately angry at the world and want to find an abusive politician to vocalise that indiscriminate anger. I don't think any sensible person in the Yes movement should be following Stuart down that rabbit-hole.
Another more prosaic point that I don't think has received sufficient attention yet is that most political parties impose 'exclusivity' rules on their members. You might recall that in the aftermath of the indyref, many people tried to join both the SNP and Greens simultaneously, and had to be gently reminded that's against the rules. It's usually against the rules to even give active support to another party. I've already seen actual office bearers of the SNP at branch level expressing enthusiasm for the Wings party, and I'm not sure the penny has quite dropped for them yet that they could be making their own positions untenable in the long run. Does it matter if Wings supporters end up outside the SNP? I think it does, because the legitimate views held by Wings supporters (such as the desire for more urgency on independence, and gender critical views) need to be heard and fought for inside the SNP. If you want to end up with a careerist, devolutionist SNP government for the next twenty years, then the division caused by a Wings party could be the right way of going about it.
I know Wings supporters will respond to this post by saying "oooh, this is so booooring, James, give it a rest" (and I know they'll say that because I've heard little else for the last 24 hours). Stuart himself, while he was still engaging with me semi-politely, innocently protested that he couldn't understand what all the fuss was about, because he wouldn't go ahead with the party if polling shows it won't get enough votes to win a significant number of seats. But the drumbeat of war emanating from both Wings the site and Wings the Twitter account is unmistakable, and I'll be honest with you - my very strong suspicion is that Stuart will at some point publish highly misleading Archie Stirling-style polling which will whip his supporters into an even greater frenzy and make the momentum towards a new party unstoppable. And then when the true picture of support for the party is revealed, it'll be far too late to halt the damage.
Incidentally, please note that if Stuart blocks me on Twitter (he may already have done that by now for all I know) I'll automatically go on his notorious "block-list" which he urges all his followers to use - something I can honestly say I never supported even when I was on good terms with him. So be aware that if you use the block list, you could well be blocking me without even realising it, along with the countless other good pro-indy people who Stuart has had random fallings-out with over the years. (The last time I checked, the likes of Kirsten Innes and Maurice Smith were on the list, which seems absolutely insane.)
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And yes, before anyone says it, I know there are far more important things happening in politics this week of all weeks, and I'll be posting about some of those later tonight.