Friday, September 10, 2021

Vote James Kelly #1 for the Alba Party's NEC this weekend: here's my mini-manifesto

If you're an Alba member and have registered for the inaugural annual conference, which takes place tomorrow and Sunday, you'll be able to vote online in the ballots for the female and male ordinary members of the National Executive Committee.  I'll be a candidate on the male ballot, along with fifteen other excellent candidates, so welcome along to my little pitch for you to give me, James Kelly, your first preference vote.  (The ballot is being conducted by Single Transferable Vote, which means you'll be ranking the candidates in order of preference.  If for some inexplicable reason you decide not to give me your first preference, I'd be equally grateful for your second preference, or your third preference, or any preference at all, really.)

A lot of the things I believe in would be quite radical and daring if I was standing for the SNP's NEC, but are very much mainstream views within Alba.  Nevertheless, they're still worth emphasising because we've all seen how quickly parties can lose touch with their founding values if members are not vigilant.  I support maximum internal democracy within the Alba Party, and transparency of all decision-making processes.  Alba is already superior to the SNP in that the main office bearer positions are directly elected by the whole membership.  When the NEC nominations began, a couple of people wrote to me to express their disquiet that this election was only open to conference delegates and not to all members, and I do have sympathy with that view - I see no reason why all positions shouldn't be elected by the members.  However, at this stage we probably should look at where we are in a glass half full sort of way.

Freedom of speech and freedom to dissent are also vitally important.  Every political party, large or small, is a coalition of views - we'll all agree on most things, but I doubt if there's anyone who will agree with absolutely every dot and comma of the policy programme decided by the majority.  I never, ever want to see a Joanna Cherry-style scenario arise within Alba whereby someone is sidelined, ostracised or treated as a "bigot" simply because they have a principled disagreement with one particular policy.

Which brings me onto the subject of disciplinary proceedings.  Every party needs to have rules and to enforce them, but that enforcement must be fair.  I would always err on the side of giving people the benefit of the doubt if the alleged wrongdoing is open to differing interpretations (as it was, for example, in the case of Neale Hanvey when he was suspended by the SNP). Nobody should be bounced into enforced "resignations".  And certainly if there's to be any question of expulsions, there should be genuine, objective proof of wrongdoing. My concern is that it's far too easy for the disciplinary process to be used as a weapon by one faction of a party against another faction - something that has undoubtedly been happening in both the SNP and Labour.

I believe that Alba is a different sort of political party in that it exists to bring about the sovereign independence of Scotland at the earliest possible opportunity and date.  You have my assurance that if I'm elected to the NEC, and if there's ever any conflict between what might be perceived as the interests of the party and the interests of the wider cause of independence, I would always choose the latter.  To give an example, it's vitally important that Alba candidates at next year's local elections urge voters to give their lower preferences to other pro-independence parties.  That will perhaps be a painful thing to do given how disparaging and often downright abusive many within the SNP and Greens have been towards Alba, but we're here to win our country's independence, not to settle old scores.

In my view there is no future for Alba as an "ethnic" Scottish party, a kind of tartan UKIP.  We must hold true to the progressive ideal of what it means to be Scottish - namely that if you choose to make this country your home, no matter where you come from or when you arrived, you belong here and you have the same rights as any other citizen, including the right to vote in a second independence referendum.  That's strategically wise as well as morally right, because many EU citizens have swung behind Yes as a result of Brexit.

I know some Alba members believe that independence will only come about if and when Alba does to the SNP what Sinn Féin did to the Irish Parliamentary Party in the 1918 general election, by taking over as the majority party. It may yet come to that, but the irony is that if it does, it'll be a sign of our own failure - because Plan A has to be to win independence before there is even any opportunity for the SNP to be displaced, in other words before the 2026 Holyrood election.  That means independence will have to be delivered by an SNP-led government, and Alba's role will be to challenge and harry the SNP into keeping their promises.  I think a good benchmark of whether we're doing that job well enough will be if Alba looks like a credible home for any SNP MSP who might be tempted to defect next year or the year after - because above all else, it's the threat of defections that may help to keep the SNP leadership honest.  To do that, we don't need to be at 40% in the polls, but we may need to be at 5% in the polls and to have some council candidates elected next year.  That may sound like a modest target, but it's actually an ambitious target that will require a great deal of work to achieve.

The fact that we're initially aiming for a relatively small share of the vote, though, has certain side-benefits  - it means we can be more daring in policy terms, because we're trying to win over a niche group of radical independence supporters, rather than trying to reassure vast swathes of Middle Scotland in the way that the SNP or the next Yes campaign will have to do.  When the SNP finally turned its back on its long-standing opposition to NATO membership, it did so partly because Alyn Smith claimed that the policy was making us look a bit "odd" (ahem).  Alba need have no such concerns, because principled opposition to NATO will differentiate us from the SNP and help to win new converts.  We may also be able to take a more radical stance on the monarchy.  I've actually always been - theoretically - in favour of an elected Head of State, but until now I've regarded that as a matter that can wait until after independence.

One thing I feel very strongly about is that nuclear weapons will have to be removed from an independent Scotland as soon as practicably possible.  They're not a bargaining chip, they simply have to go.

I share the concerns about the threat to women-only spaces and services, and indeed to women's sport, caused by the ideologically-driven rush to reform the GRA.  As many of you know, I fundraised during the summer to commission a Scot Goes Pop poll to discover how the Scottish public really feel about GRA reform and related matters.  Although not as much has been raised so far as would be needed to commission the ideal type of poll, I'll make sure it happens one way or another.

I strongly agree that Alba should be at the forefront of pressing the Scottish Government to make a decisive break from the Westminster-led 'Four Nations' approach to tackling Covid, which has led this country into calamity again and again and again.

And now a little bit about me, for those of you who don't know...

I've been writing Scot Goes Pop since 2008, and by 2013 it had become one of Scotland's most popular pro-independence blogs.  In 2012 I became a columnist for the International Business Times, and in the run-up to the independence referendum many of my columns were syndicated on Yahoo, reaching a huge audience - meaning that I may well have been, almost by accident, the most-read pro-indy blogger during the indyref period.  Later on, I was for a time a columnist on the TalkRadio website, and since 2017 I've been a regular columnist for iScot magazine.  I've also provided occasional election and poll analysis for The National since early 2015.

I've made numerous appearances on TV and radio, including BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio Five Live, the Bauer radio network, Al Jazeera, Radio Sputnik and most recently the Alex Salmond Show on RT.  I've also taken part in a huge number of New Media podcasts, films and live-streams.  Perhaps most significantly, though, I've commissioned no fewer than five full-scale Scottish opinion polls - something that is usually the preserve of the mainstream media.  Some of the polls have been genuine landmarks - for example, the poll in June 2020 that marked the start of the long unbroken series of Yes-majority polls was a Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll.

I'm not, however, a political insider.  I've never been particularly active within a political party, and that, I think, may mean I'd bring a different sort of perspective to the NEC than someone who is steeped in SNP internal politics. (Don't get me wrong, though - there's also plenty of room for that kind of experience on the NEC.)

I'd suggest a possible advantage of electing me is that there aren't going to be any surprises about my political views.  Over the years, I must have blogged about practically every political topic under the sun, so my opinions are all out there.  Most of you know me well and you know exactly what you'd be getting.  I'm also easy to reach - I'm very active on social media.  (That mostly means Twitter rather than Facebook, for the avoidance of doubt - it's not unusual for me not to check my Facebook account for weeks, which has led now and again to sheepish apologies to people who have messaged me in the interim.)

If any or all of this strikes a chord, and if you're eligible to vote, please do consider giving your first preference vote to James Kelly (that's me!) on the male ballot for ordinary members of the Alba Party NEC.  The voting hours will, as far as I know, be between 12pm on Saturday and 5pm on Sunday.  Thank you.

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Scot Goes Popcast: You can watch the full videos of my recent interviews with Yvonne Ridley and William Duguid HERE and HERE

Alba NEC nominations update, and analysis piece in The National

So a couple of things.  First of all, my sincere thanks to all Alba members who nominated me for one of the male places on the party's National Executive Committee.  I reached the required threshold, so I'll be on the ballot over the weekend.  Anyone who is registered for the conference will be entitled to vote between 12pm tomorrow and 5pm on Sunday, and it looks like it'll be an online vote conducted by STV (so voters rank the candidates in order of preference). 

One of the reasons I gave for putting myself forward was to give delegates the widest possible choice, and that's certainly how it's worked out - there are thirty candidates altogether, fourteen on the female ballot, and sixteen on the male ballot.  So actually getting elected will be a very tall order, but rest assured I'll be giving it my best shot anyway with some shameless self-promotion (and a mini-'manifesto') later today or tomorrow morning!

Secondly, I have an analysis piece in The National about yesterday's remarkable Opinium poll showing an outright pro-independence majority.  You can read it HERE.

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Scot Goes Popcast: You can watch the full videos of my recent interviews with Yvonne Ridley and William Duguid HERE and HERE

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Breakthrough: Sky News poll is first since the spring to show an outright pro-independence majority

Opinium / Sky News poll:

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 51% (+1)
No 49% (-1)

I can't help but raise a wry smile at Sky News reporting their own poll as "Scotland remains evenly split" - that's technically accurate because a 1% increase could very well just be margin of error noise, but I don't seem to recall that being the interpretation when No moved into a slight lead early this year.

It's important to stress that until today there had only been four polls on independence since the Holyrood election.  One of those was a dead heat and the other two showed reasonably narrow No leads.  It may be that if there had been a larger number of polls over the last few months, we'd have seen the occasional Yes lead as a natural result of clustering around the 50/50 mark.  So today's poll isn't necessarily evidence of a swing back to Yes - but the good news is that it may be evidence that things have been better than they've looked all along.  I suspect we may have been led astray by ComRes polls in particular, which seem to have displayed a No-friendly house effect in recent months (which is ironic, because at the turn of the year ComRes looked like a Yes-friendly firm).  If you strip out ComRes from the list of this year's polls, there's very little sign of No opening up a substantial lead at any point - it's remained pretty tight for the most part.

You'd need to have a heart of stone not to laugh at Scotland in Union's unfortunate timing.  It was only this morning that they published a propaganda poll purporting to show that Scots don't want to "leave the United Kingdom" and are opposed to a second indyref.  Within just hours, a bona fide poll commissioned by a mainstream media outlet has shown a pro-indy majority, and a plurality (albeit a narrow one) in favour of holding an independence referendum within the next five years.

I suspect the unionist parties will be reeling with disbelief at the party political voting intention numbers, which suggest that the SNP's "honeymoon" is still ongoing after fourteen-and-a-half years, and arguably point to a whole new honeymoon that started after the May election.

Scottish voting intentions for the next UK general election:

SNP 51% (+4)
Conservatives 21% (-4)
Labour 17% (-3)
Liberal Democrats 5% (-1)

Seats projection (with changes since 2019 election in brackets): SNP 57 (+9), Conservatives 1 (-5), Labour 1 (-), Liberal Democrats 0 (-4)

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot voting intentions:

SNP 51%
Conservatives 21%
Labour 18%
Liberal Democrats 6%

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot voting intentions:

SNP 40%
Conservatives 21%
Labour 16%
Greens 8%
Liberal Democrats 5%
Alba 0%

Seats projection (with changes from 2021 election in brackets): SNP 65 (+1), Conservatives 28 (-3), Labour 21 (-1), Greens 10 (+2), Liberal Democrats 5 (+1)

Although Alba have been rounded down to zero on this occasion (as far as I can recall the first time that's happened in any poll), I know party members will be relieved they were at least offered to respondents as an option - which strangely wasn't the case in the most recent Panelbase poll.  Two respondents did say they'd vote Alba, but the result perhaps isn't so surprising when you bear in mind how starved the party has been of media attention recently.

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Scot Goes Popcast: You can watch the full videos of my recent interviews with Yvonne Ridley and William Duguid HERE and HERE

"We want OUT!": Support for "leaving the United Kingdom" soars to historic HIGH as Scotland in Union propaganda poll spectacularly BACKFIRES

It's absolutely uncanny.  The five predictions I made about the poll Scotland in Union were trailing last night proved to be pretty much accurate - albeit the media can't seem to make up their minds whether it's a Survation poll or a Panelbase poll, and the tacked on SNP quote comes from a generic spokesperson rather than Keith Brown.

Crucially, the latest installment of the Remain/Leave farce finds 43% support for "leaving the United Kingdom" with Don't Knows stripped out - absolutely identical to the previous poll.  So if the trends on the propaganda question do run parallel to trends on genuine independence polling (a very big "if") it would appear that there has been no slippage at all in support for independence.  In fact, before Don't Knows are removed, "Leave" support stands at 39% - the highest ever in a Scotland in Union poll, and a two point increase on the most recent poll in the series.  Our Precious Union is, it seems, becoming increasingly unpopular.

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Scot Goes Popcast: You can watch the full videos of my recent interviews with Yvonne Ridley and William Duguid HERE and HERE

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Some predictions...

The anti-independence propaganda outfit Scotland in Union have helpfully warned us to be on the lookout for an opinion poll tomorrow.  I will now proceed to make a series of predictions about this poll.  

1) This poll will be a Survation poll commissioned by Scotland in Union themselves.

2) In common with their previous Survation polls, it will not ask about independence, but will instead pose the question 'Should Scotland leave the United Kingdom?', without making clear whether we'd be 'leaving' to become part of another state, to become a crown dependency like Jersey, to become a freely associated state like the Cook Islands, or to become an independent country.  The question also deliberately sows confusion because the word 'leave' is associated with Brexit, and because 'leaving the United Kingdom' can be misinterpreted as abolishing the monarchy.

3) As always in these polls, the 'Leave' vote will be markedly lower than the Yes vote in genuine independence polls.

4) Scotland in Union will, as ever, put out a press release misrepresenting the poll as an independence poll, and falsely claiming that it shows a drop in the "Yes vote".

5) The mainstream media will, as ever, disgrace themselves by "reporting the poll" with articles that are nothing more than very lightly rewritten versions of the Scotland in Union press release, with a reaction from Keith Brown tacked on at the end for appearances' sake.

Judge how astoundingly accurate (or otherwise) my predictions turn out to be tomorrow!

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Scot Goes Popcast: You can watch the full videos of my recent interviews with Yvonne Ridley and William Duguid HERE and HERE

Scotland will not stand for this

It's obviously bad enough that Scotland is being hit with a UK-wide tax rise to pay for an England-only policy change, but that's a structural problem with the way that devolution was set up in 1999, and won't be resolved without either full fiscal autonomy or independence.  Much more remarkable was a story (I think it was in the Independent, but I can't actually find it now) claiming that Boris Johnson was changing the rules to ensure that the money Scotland received from the National Insurance rise would be passed direct to NHS Scotland, and that the Scottish Government would have no discretion on how to spend it.  That of course would drive a coach and horses through the entire principle of devolution, which is that Scotland receives a block grant (and other revenues from its own taxes) and then spends the money however it sees fit without interference from Westminster.  Astonishingly, the article then claimed that the SNP would quietly go along with the end of devolution as we know it, without even a booming "SCOTLAND WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS!" from Ian Blackford, because it would conveniently solve their own problem of how to pay for social care in Scotland.

Thankfully, it appears none of this is true.  The Scottish administration will decide for itself how to spend the money in the normal way. Boris Johnson was bending the truth about the money going direct to the Scottish NHS to make Our Precious Union look like Santa Claus.  I'm not sure what the lesson of all this is - maybe it's about the incuriosity of the mainstream media towards devolution, to such an extent that they don't even bother doublechecking unlikely claims.  But I'm also troubled by the fact that, just for a little while, I found those claims semi-plausible - and there are good reasons for that too.

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Scot Goes Popcast: You can watch the full videos of my recent interviews with Yvonne Ridley and William Duguid HERE and HERE

Monday, September 6, 2021

On the subject of harassment and manipulation in the name of "positivity" - and the vital need for pro-independence blogging to be truly *independent*

It seems to me there are two different types of life lesson.  There are the lessons you genuinely have to learn the hard way, and then there are the truths you kind of instinctively know from the start, but that are continuously reaffirmed by experience.  This is a blogpost about two lessons - one of each type.

The first lesson is one that I learned when I was 7 or 8 years old.  Every child that has ever been bullied at school has probably heard the same two clichés a million times - "if you just ignore them, they'll go away" and "all you have to do is tell a teacher, and they'll put a stop to it".  And of course, when you're a child, if lots of people are telling you exactly the same thing, you believe it must be true.  So you put the advice into practice, assuming that it's bound to work - and guess what?  It doesn't.  The teacher you confide in just goes through the motions by taking completely ineffective action, and if you raise the issue with them again, they shrug their shoulders because they've "already dealt with it".  And ignoring the bullies has precisely the opposite effect from the one you're told to expect - they're actually emboldened by your silence and passivity.

Eventually you reach a strange but inescapable conclusion - that the function of the clichés is not to help you, but instead to pass the blame onto you for the things that are happening to you.  If you're being persecuted, day in, day out, it's not the bullies' fault, and heaven forbid that it could be the fault of adults for failing to act - no no, it's your own fault for not taking the simple steps that everyone is telling you to take.

The second lesson is about independence - not about the independence of this country, but about independence of thought and action.  In 2010, about two years after I started blogging, I was invited by Mick Fealty of Slugger O'Toole fame to a conference in Edinburgh about New Media and related matters. It turned out to be the one and only time I met some of the better known bloggers of the period, including Duncan Stephen, Caron Lindsay and James Mackenzie.  The latter had recently given up his Two Doctors blog to join forces with Jeff Breslin and Malcolm Harvey in the group blog Better Nation.  And, indeed, one of the recurring themes of the day was that the days of the solo blog were on the way out, and that the future of blogging belonged to collaborative efforts.  I remember thinking that I fervently hoped that wasn't true, because to me, blogging was all about individual expression without being subject to editorial control or to less direct external pressures and influences.

And thankfully the predictions couldn't have been more wrong.  At least as far as the pro-independence New Media in Scotland was concerned, the next decade belonged largely to solo bloggers, while group efforts like Better Nation generally either failed or didn't quite meet their initial promise.  But nevertheless, even as a solo blogger there are constant attempts - some subtle, some less than subtle - to co-opt you into some kind of bigger 'machine'.  For example, it's occasionally suggested that there should be some form of centralised funding for the New Media - that instead of each outlet seeking its own funding, it should instead have to apply for funds. I once went to a meeting where it was "decided" that in future none of us would publish blogposts mentioning other independence supporters without notifying the person first - and I thought "hang on, when did I agree to hand over editorial control of my blog to a majority vote of other bloggers?"  An SNP press officer once asked me if it would be possible to get an article published on a certain high-profile English political website that I had written for before, and I said I'd give it a go, because I was an SNP supporter and of course I wanted to be helpful if I could. But it turned out that what he actually had in mind was that he would write a propaganda piece for me, and all I would do is put my name to it.  Apart from anything else, it was appallingly badly written and I would have been deeply embarrassed if anyone had thought it was mine. As far as I can recall, I didn't reply to him again, and I simply submitted my own original piece to the website instead.

My strong instinct has always been to guard my independence jealously, and each time one of these episodes occurs, it just confirms that my instinct is right - because, more often than not, the "centralisation" and "collaboration" masterplans really turn out to be an exercise in gate-keeping or manipulation.  They're ultimately about policing what you can and can't say, or straightforwardly putting words in your mouth. 

Which brings me to the fallout from the relentless campaign of harassment I've been subjected to over the last few months by a former prolific commenter on this blog - namely Ross Anderson, aka "Scottish Skier". The bulk of the harassment has been invisible to readers, because it happened after I turned pre-moderation on, and for the most part I simply didn't let his comments through - but every single one of them landed in my inbox.  It wasn't unusual to receive six or seven lengthy comments per day, many of them laced with extreme bitterness and presumptuous demands about how I should run this blog.  It reminded me of the redundancy of the old advice about "ignore bullies and they'll go away", because even though Mr Anderson was screaming into the ether (nobody apart from me was even reading his comments and I wasn't responding to them), he simply didn't stop. I kept expecting him to get bored and to 'defect' to a different lucky blog, but no, he just carried on pointlessly bombarding my inbox for weeks. He was like a hurricane that didn't blow itself out. Eventually he worked out a way of forcing me to pay him some attention - he vexatiously demanded a partial refund of an ancient £20 donation that had long since been spent in precisely the way promised.  I was recently left with little choice but to fully publish my side of the email exchange that ensued, because Mr Anderson cynically misrepresented that exchange in a number of comments on the Wee Ginger Dug blog.

And yes, that happened because Mr Anderson belatedly did what I had expected him to do several weeks earlier - he adopted another blog as his home.  Almost immediately, though, some of my own readers became concerned at the extreme nature of the claims that Mr Anderson was making about me in comments on Wee Ginger Dug - they felt that my reputation was in danger of being seriously damaged and urged me to post a public response.  Initially I was sceptical, but when I actually read the comments, I began to see their point.  So I did publish a brief reply on Scot Goes Pop - and that prompted an email message from the author of WGD, Paul Kavanagh, who I was still on good terms with at the time.  It was friendly enough, but I could tell he was unhappy that I had posted publicly and that he thought I should have spoken to him first.  So, when the attacks from Mr Anderson kept coming, I messaged Paul and let him know as a matter of courtesy that I was going to have to post another response.  I wasn't in any sense 'asking for permission' - nobody needs permission to respond to personal attacks made on them in a public space.  But as Paul had been upset by my actions before, I wanted to ensure that I observed every possible courtesy this time around.

The reply I received startled me. Paul basically instructed me not to post a public reply, and said that he and his moderators would instead deal with Mr Anderson privately.  He said that if I posted about Mr Anderson, it would simply provoke a retaliation, and make the moderation of Wee Ginger Dug an even more difficult task.  Every instinct in my body told me that I shouldn't allow someone to give me instructions about the content of my own blog - but I had a high regard for Paul, and he has of course been extremely unwell over the last year.  I didn't want to add to his problems, so I decided that, just this once, there was no harm in bending with the wind a little. 

"No good deed goes unpunished", as the saying goes. It turned out that the instructions didn't end there. A few weeks later, Paul messaged me again, this time attempting to lay down the law about the Scot Goes Pop moderation policy.  He effectively told me that, because the moderators on WGD had been protecting me, I was now honour-bound to give him similar protection by censoring the comments of "Independence for Scotland".  He made clear that I should not only prevent any criticisms of himself, but also any criticisms of Mr Anderson, because that would make life easier for his moderators.  This, it seemed to me, was a blatant attempt to manipulate me into subordinating the moderation policy of Scot Goes Pop to that of Wee Ginger Dug, and it just wasn't on.  However, I was very unsure of how to deal with the situation, because I had been placed in an almost impossible position.  I didn't reply for several days, and I used that time to take advice from friends and family, who agreed that there was no easy solution. Either I went along once again with what Paul wanted, in which case I was effectively surrendering editorial control of Scot Goes Pop, or I said no, in which case he was bound to react badly and that might destroy my relationship with him.

It was tempting just to pretend I'd never received the email in the first place, but that would have been the coward's way out.  In the end I tried to navigate the minefield by posting to ask IFS to stop criticising Paul, but making it clear that I was not going to censor any criticisms of Mr Anderson. That seemed like a reasonable enough compromise - but Paul immediately phoned me up to tell me that I had made matters worse.  He told me to delete the blogpost - an utterly extraordinary demand to make, and a sign that his attempts to control me were getting totally out of hand. I just laughed and told him that I would look ridiculous if I deleted a blogpost I had only just posted.

Mr Anderson then resumed his attacks on me in the comments section of Wee Ginger Dug the following day, with no sign of the fabled 'protection' from the moderators that had supposedly required a quid pro quo from me.  This culminated in Paul sending me what I can only describe as a thoroughly inappropriate and extremely angry email. He squarely placed the blame on me for Mr Anderson's behaviour, which he suggested was contributing to him feeling unwell, and told me that he was "frankly disappointed" at my "poor judgement" - once again implying that I should have deferred to him on editorial matters.  At that point, I realised that there was nothing to be gained from continuing to try to be diplomatic, so I made clear to Paul that his attempts to place the onus on third parties like myself to solve moderation problems on Wee Ginger Dug were completely ridiculous.  I pointed out that he and his moderators have all the necessary tools at their disposal to deal with commenters who displease them (unlike my own, Paul's commenting platform allows him to ban commenters outright). Asking me to self-censor to stop his awkward squad of commenters from being 'triggered' by what I write was as pointless as it was needless, because in many cases they're simply 'triggered' by the existence of the Alba party and by the fact that there are bloggers out there who dare to write in support of it.  I noted that WGD has become a safe haven for people to rant about anyone even vaguely associated with Alba - something which I had no complaint about, but there was no point in pretending it wasn't happening.  

I told Paul that I was genuinely very, very sorry (and I am) that he was feeling so unwell and that he'd gone through so much, but that there was simply no need for him to lash out at me or to try to manipulate me in the way that he had.  I stressed that I would not be adjusting the content of Scot Goes Pop, either above or below the line, to conveniently fit in with the moderation policy of another blog.

So this is yet another episode that has reinforced my ongoing belief that it's always best to insist upon blogging independence.  When the paternal arm comes over your shoulder, there's usually an agenda behind it.  In this case, the agenda seems to be about the synthetic notion that the pro-independence movement must be relentlessly "positive" (code for slavishly loyal to the SNP leadership) to win a referendum that as far as I can see is not actually taking place.  This idea of "positivity" does not of course preclude vicious attacks on Alba, who are "transphobic bigots" hellbent on "distracting" us all from the non-existent referendum campaign.  Right on cue today, we have yet another attack on Scot Goes Pop from Mr Anderson in the comments section of WGD (no sign of "protection" from the moderators thus far) which equates my support for Alba with "negativity", and attempts to prove using a dodgy chart worthy of the Lib Dems that I am losing readers because of it.

In case anyone is daft enough to take Mr Anderson's rather contrived propaganda seriously, there are four major flaws in it.  Firstly, I have not been posting anything like as much since the spring for the simple reason that the election is over, so a drop in traffic is inevitable, and has always happened before at similar times of the electoral cycle.  Secondly, the traffic figures he uses are not actually accurate figures, but are instead ball-park estimates taken from the website SimilarWeb, and which are miles out from the real numbers I can see for myself on Google Analytics. Thirdly, it's a bit bloody convenient that the only two pro-Alba websites he looks at are ones that have had fewer posts since the spring (myself and Wings).  Even the most cursory look at the remarkable recent viewing figures for the Through a Scottish Prism channel on YouTube gives the lie to any idea that support for Alba repels visitors.  And fourthly, even if it was actually true that being pro-Alba puts people off, here's the thing: I would still be pro-Alba anyway, because this is about principle rather than cynical calculation (admittedly that may be an alien concept for Mr Anderson).

Ladies and gentlemen, you're reading Scot Goes Pop, your fiercely independent pro-independence website.  And fiercely independent is exactly how it's going to stay, no matter how inconvenient that may be to anyone else.