Friday, November 11, 2022

Newsflash, guys: There's no special rule that makes Wings Over Scotland immune from criticism

In the last few days, I have made two incredibly mild criticisms of Stuart Campbell.  Firstly, I pointed out that the SimilarWeb numbers he relies upon to portray his "closed" website as far more popular than the rest of the pro-indy blogosphere are simply not reliable or credible, and I set out the reasons why.  This is something I have a direct stake in, because he explicitly mentioned Scot Goes Pop in the relevant posts and tried to portray this site as having roughly one-tenth of the visitors that Wings attracts - which is unlikely to be true.  The only way we'd ever know for sure is if Mr Campbell reveals his own private stats to permit a direct comparison, but in a nutshell there are two issues with the SimilarWeb numbers - a) they seem to count the same visitors multiple times, which will artificially inflate the reported popularity of any site that essentially functions as a chat forum, and b) they're not real traffic numbers at all, but merely speculative extrapolations from what seems to be an extremely rudimentary 'panel' system.

And secondly, I very briefly pointed out on Twitter today that it's increasingly ludicrous for Mr Campbell to maintain the fiction that his site is "closed" when in fact he's published no fewer than nine blogposts on it over the eleven days since the start of November.  That, frankly, is just fair comment, and was crying out to be said by someone.

But I should have remembered one of the iron laws of Scottish politics: criticisms of Stuart Campbell, no matter how mild or obviously fair, are not permitted.  If you make any such criticisms, you will get an avalanche of nasty replies from his fan club, some of which will be downright abusive, but all of which will seek to pathologise the act of disagreeing with Mr Campbell in even the slightest way.  There's a rather scattergun approach to this process of pathologisation - some will say that any criticisms can only ever be motivated by "bitterness" or "jealousy at his success".  Some will say that you're being "immature" or "childish".  Some will say that you're "obsessed" and that you need to "chill".  Some will say that you need to stop being "divisive" or "picking fights with a fellow pro-indy blogger".

Hmmm.  Let me try and give these diehard fans of Mr Campbell a long-overdue crash course on the subject of perspective and self-awareness.  It comes in the form of a few questions.

* Mr Campbell repeatedly makes bitter and highly personalised attacks on Nicola Sturgeon.  When he does that, do you take him to task and tell him that he's just jealous about the fact that she's far more successful than he is?  (Whatever you may think of Ms Sturgeon, it's objectively undeniable that she's more successful - she's been the elected leader of Scotland for eight years, whereas Mr Campbell has thus far failed to translate his following into a political force capable of meaningfully influencing the direction of this country.) Or do you instead say "YEAH, YOU STICK IT TO HER, STU"?  Honest answers only, please.

* Two days ago, Mr Campbell described Pete Wishart as a "traitor" in a Wings headline.  Now, I'm no fan of Wishart, who has had me blocked for many years, but nevertheless I do not believe calling him a "traitor" is appropriate or responsible language.  So when Mr Campbell did that, did you tell him that he was becoming obsessed and needed to chill?  Or did you say "STU CALLED WISHART A TRAITOR - FANTASTIC, WOT A LEGEND"?  Honest answers only, please.

* A few months ago, Mr Campbell described a woman as "mercifully deceased" - quite possibly the most repugnant thing he's ever written on Wings.  When he did that, did you warn him that he risked damaging both his own reputation and that of the independence movement?  Or did you say "YEAH, PEOPLE LIKE HER ARE BETTER OFF DEAD, GREAT TO SEE STU TELLING IT LIKE IT IS"?  Honest answers only, please.

* At the start of 2021, Mr Campbell was so angry at the contents of this blog that he sent me an email out of the blue calling me a "c**t", and then tried to intimidate me into censoring readers' comments by getting his solicitor to send me menacing emails at the dead of night.  When he did that, did you tell him that he needed to stop being so driven by bitterness and petty revenge, and that it was sad to see him being so divisive and picking needless fights with a fellow pro-indy blogger?  Or did you ludicrously try to paint an abusive bully as the victim?  Honest answers only, please.

* On 1st November, Mr Campbell published the results of the most pathetically self-indulgent poll question that he's ever commissioned. (In fact it's possibly the most pathetic and pointless poll question that anyone at all has ever commissioned.)  It served no other purpose than to fuel his neverending feud with Kezia Dugdale, which is only a thing because he can't get over the fact that she defeated him in court a few years ago, albeit on a technicality.  When he did that, did you tell him it was time to stop being so immature and childish, and to grow up and move on?  Or did you say "DRAG HER TO COURT AGAIN, STU!  HOWEVER MANY TIMES IT TAKES!  MAKE WINGS GREAT AGAIN!"  Honest answers only, please.

Hopefully the point has been made.  And now that Mr Campbell appears to be back blogging full-time, I'm afraid the laughably hypocritical Twitter pile-ons are not going to deter me from critiquing future posts on Wings that are inaccurate or misleading, or that are destructive to the cause of independence.  For example, I discovered a few months back that Wings was the original source for the utterly baseless but frequently repeated claim that "support for independence among women has fallen 17% over the last few years".  He has also essentially lied to his readers by saying that overall support for independence has remained totally static for several years - complete with bogus graph.  (Yes, I know, those two claims are not even reconcilable with each other.)  I can fully understand why Mr Campbell's disciples want to browbeat me and others into letting his deceitful propaganda pass unchallenged - but that simply isn't going to happen.

Oh, and please note that the inevitable attempts to leave abusive comments on this blogpost will not succeed - pre-moderation of comments is still switched on.

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  1. This. Very much this.

  2. Please keep the block on James, your reasonable and moderate comments are all to often spoiled by the intolerant language of some.
    Robust but respectful debate will win the day.

  3. "The only way we'd ever know for sure is if Mr Campbell reveals his own private stats to permit a direct comparison"

    Comparison with what? I don't think I've ever seen you publish yours.

    1. Which is a somewhat redundant criticism when he's not publishing his either (and when he's the one making the dodgy claims using unreliable stats). As it happens, though, I have revealed my numbers in the past - although I stopped when I realised I had Analytics set up incorrectly and it was only picking up desktop traffic.

  4. People read lots of things it doesn't mean they agree with the content
    Stuart Campbell is a narcissist in the exact same mold as Donald Trump, if or when disagreed with, he rages like a petulant child hoping to infect those who read his bile with the same disease of bitterness to take up arms in his defense by attacking those who would dare to oppose him

    1. It's hard to disagree. The Twitter pile-on is still going on several hours later.

      "Traitor": fine.

      "Mercifully deceased": fine.

      "Nine blogposts in eleven days is not a 'closed' website": WHAT AN IMMATURE COMMENT, LEAVE THE POOR MAN ALONE, JAMES.

      It's either mass hysteria or mass hypnosis, but these people have utterly lost all sense of persepective.

  5. James, you chose the wrong reply to Morag Kerr to embed. Your best one was:

    "Get a room." That's my line to you, surely. Can't bear the guy to be criticised? It's love, Morag. It's rather beautiful in its own way.

  6. It is sad that so many Scottish independence supporters cannot maintain some sort of independence of thought. It is silly tribalism that leads people to accept everything a blogger or a politician says and defend to silly levels. That is the situation we find ourselves in. There is not one blogger that I have agreed with EVERYTHING they post.

    1. Luckily that's not a problem Scot Goes Pop has ever suffered from. I can't think of a single person who just blindly accepts everything I say as gospel. But Wings has a much more hypnotic hold over a significant percentage of his followers.

    2. To prove my point I would like to disagree, but I actually agree, but would also add that WGD is just as bad as WOS. You would have thought a lot more people would have learned from the slavish devotion to every word uttered by Labour in Scotland for decades. You had a poster called Alex Birnie on SGP who stated he supported Labour for decades and he has now transferred his slavish devotion to the SNP.

      However, I now feel duty bound to find something to disagree with you - I had absolutely no problem with Campbell calling Wishart a traitor if he did say if he was speaker of the H of Commons he would cast his casting vote against independence. Seems obvious to me that someone contemplating such a situation deserves such a comment. Not seen any evidence showing that this statement of Wisharts was untrue or Pension Pete denying it. Wishart is the poster boy example of what happens to you when you go down to London.

  7. People on WGD and people on WOS commonly get very angry at anyone who disagrees with them both sites ban people who disagree with them.
    This site and talkingupscotland are very much better at discussing differing opinions.
    I’ve just been on the tax research blog where for saying i believe in free speech i was met with this response “ well if you believe in hate speech you are banned “
    I responded by saying i believe in free speech within the law I will wait and see what happens.
    The thing is it’s typical , banning people just narrows the discussion
    What we need is expansion of the discussion
    The discussion of Scottish independence is being narrowed all the time and if we want to reverse that we have to create a discussion forum that developed discussion between those in favour of Scottish independence and those against Scottish independence but I fear that all the popular sites have in fact become very tribal.
    I am not on this site very often but do you get many unionists on here ?
    You get none on WOS or WGD they’ve all been scared away or banned
    Banned for holding a view
    Banned for swearing at someone who swore at them first , allowing people who agree with you to be abusive then banning people who swear back but at the same time disagree with your point of view really is not expanding the discussion
    This all had to change
    Perhaps all the people who run the big sites need to have a get together and reach agreement on how to expand discussion and find a way to stop banning people
    It’s my website and I make the rules is not what Scottish independence discussion needs

  8. Can I ask you what makes you think Nicola Sturgeon is 'successful' ? Asking on behalf of the whole of Scotland.

    1. Well anonymous I think it is pretty obvious. Sturgeon is a top SNP politician who has achieved great success for herself and the SNP in terms of winning elections. She has, however, delivered the exact opposite for the independence movement and as a leader for independence is a disaster. She has won the elections by continually making promises about Scottish independence she has no intention of keeping.

      If James replies he may think differently.

    2. I thought the point I was making was clear enough. A fundamental part of Campbell Fan Club ideology is that, if Individual A is allegedly more successful than Individual B, any criticism directed by Individual B at Individual A has no legitimacy because it is motivated solely by jealousy and bitter obsessiveness, and is extremely boring to listen to. Which, in a shock twist, must mean that the Campbell Fan Club is bored to tears by Campbell's bitter, jealous and obsessional rants about Ms Sturgeon, and want him to put a sock in it.