I was going to say that I simply had to write this reply to Stuart because it's a rare day on which a whole article is dedicated to me on Wings Over Scotland, but actually that would be a lie - it's not rare at all. This is the second time it's happened in just a few short days, and there have been so many other rants in the past. Each and every one of them has a special place in my heart. I cherish them all.
I said the other day that the Wings "comeback" was more predictable than a Home and Away plot twist. Indeed, not only was it predictable, it was predicted - I and many others pointed out eighteen months ago that Mr Campbell's supposed "retirement" was just an emotional reaction to what he privately regarded as the humiliation of the 2021 Holyrood election outcome - he had honestly thought he had enough influence with voters to cause real harm to the SNP, but in the end he was confronted with the reality that his influence was negligible. (Personally, I think he actually could have won a few more votes for Alba on the list if he'd spent the 2021 campaign creating a buzz about independence, rather than wasting any potential influence he had by wittering on endlessly about the gender identity issue for the whole month.)
But he was always going to U-turn on his decision once he'd had long enough to lick his wounds, and it was just a question of the timing and the pretext. He's been very noticeably preparing the ground for this moment for months - he gradually stepped up his posting rate until he reached the point in the first half of this month when he was posting almost daily (while ludicrously maintaining the pretence that the site was still "closed"), and he repeatedly posted the wildly unreliable SimilarWeb comparisons between traffic numbers for his site and other New Media sites so that he could say: "Look, nothing has filled the void left behind by Wings! Of course I don't want to come back, I can't think of anything more ghastly, but frankly what choice do I have?" (In reality, even if you took those numbers literally, they actually suggested that Wee Ginger Dug is well on its way to the kind of popularity Wings once had, so there was no 'void' to worry about.)
Maybe Stuart is naive enough to think people can't see through him, or maybe I've got just enough of a devious streak myself that I'm one of a minority who are capable of seeing through him, but either way it's always been blindingly obvious to me what this choreography was about. To expect people to believe that the kind of major career decision he's unveiled over the last few days was not pre-planned and was just casually made on a whim is utterly fatuous. Having blown his fortune on the disaster of the Dugdale court case a few years ago, he was always going to have to seek a fresh income, either via the Wings readership or by alternative means - and no, he hasn't just suddenly started thinking about that problem in the last 72 hours.
But if there was one thing even more predictable than his retirement U-turn, it was his inevitable announcement that he only did it because of little old me. I'm not saying that because I'm Nostradamus, but simply because this is not my first rodeo. A few years ago, Stuart was on the comments section of this blog late at night trying to taunt me that he was only doing such-and-such-a-thing he was plainly always planning to do because I had irritated him so much, and that I would have to live for the rest of my life with the knowledge that I was the unwitting cause of such-and-such-a-thing. (The fact that I can't even remember what the thing was suggests that the taunt may not have had quite the hoped-for effect.) Similarly, he always used to taunt the Better Nation gang that he had only taken up blogging in the first place because of them, which he apparently thought would be psychologically unbearable. Retrospectively giving his villains-de-jour the credit for his own premeditated actions is an utterly familiar, bog standard part of the Wings repertoire, and by this stage it provokes little more than a stifled yawn.
One thing we do know, though, is that his devoted fans take everything he says completely literally, so they will now believe with absolute, unshakeable conviction that he only ran his latest fundraiser due to a fit of pique directed against me (and against Karen Adam, weirdly enough - I doubt if she'll be happy having to share the credit with someone she probably regards as a "transphobic bigot"). They'll also believe with an equally unshakeable conviction that he means what he says when he notes "that there’s little of worth to actually say about Scottish politics". If I was them, the obvious question would be forming in my mind: "Stuart, did you just take at least £70,000 per year out of circulation for literally nothing? Is there actually nothing of value you're planning to do with it?" Because I can assure you that the Alba Party would have found good use for that sort of money - but now they won't have that opportunity, unless Stuart passes some of it on to them (spoiler alert: he won't).
He'll actually probably end up with more than £100,000 per year, which by any standards is several times more than enough to live on (even "in Bath" - one of his fans ludicrously said to me "that doesny go far in Bath, pal"), so we'll have to see whether the huge surplus is put to anything that could be remotely considered good use. Will he do anything to actually promote independence, or will he spend all his time doing what he did yesterday - ie. joining in with the unionist propaganda campaign by the Mail and Express designed to undermine the campaign for independence by hoodwinking people into thinking that independence is less popular than it actually is? Will he use the money on polling, and if he does, will he effectively squander it with infantile questions like his recent one about Kezia Dugdale, which served literally no purpose other than the furtherance of a bitter personal vendetta against the woman who defeated him in court? For that matter, will he casually chuck the whole £100,000 into the black hole of yet another vanity court case?
Time will tell. I'm not overly concerned because any attacks he makes on the independence campaign will be seen by a relatively limited number of people (the most up-to-date figures suggest that less than 1% of the Scottish population visit Wings at any time in an average month), and in any case it's not my money that risks being squandered. But I do feel sorry for the people who have been taken in. (Ironically, many of those people are currently fizzing with rage towards me, but I do genuinely feel sorry for them just the same.) Rest assured that Scot Goes Pop's new Wings-Watch service will be on hand whenever necessary to fact-check Stuart's dodgy claims, especially about independence polling - and if the early signs are anything to go by, I'm going to be kept extremely busy.