On a previous thread, our regular commenter "Independence for Scotland" disagreed with my view that it was inappropriate and offensive for Stuart Campbell to call Pete Wishart MP a "traitor" the other day. I'm just going to briefly explain why I think it was. There's a pretty clear gulf between the way in which people use the words "betray" and "traitor" in normal speech. Common or garden "betrayal" is something a large number of people are routinely claimed to be guilty of - for example, if someone has an affair, they are said to have betrayed their spouse or partner. The fact that it's so common doesn't mean it's not a serious thing to accuse someone of, but nevertheless it's not remotely on a par with "traitor", a descriptor which is generally saved for a very select few, the absolute worst of the worst. Criminal codes generally reserve the severest punishments for treason - indeed Britain technically kept the death penalty on the statute book for treason until the late 1990s, a whole three decades after it was abolished for murder in the 1960s.
So for that reason I wouldn't think twice about suggesting a politician had "betrayed" the independence movement, if indeed that's what I believed they had done, but I would never call them a "traitor". Anyone who uses that word is almost automatically going to sound like a zealot or extremist, because it carries all sorts of connotations about the "penalty" the supposed traitor should suffer. It's almost fatuous to apply a term like that to Pete Wishart, an unimportant and faintly ridiculous figure who spends half his life running away from root vegetables.
What was it he did that was supposedly so "treasonable", you may wonder? It was simply that when he wanted to become Speaker of the House of Commons, he was asked whether he would hypothetically vote against independence with his casting vote as Speaker if that was what convention demanded, and he said he would. That was just a statement of the bleedin' obvious - you can't take on an office without committing yourself to the duties of that office. Any SNP MP becoming Speaker would be required to give up their party affiliation and become neutral on all matters of political dispute, including independence. That's one reason why it's so obviously stupid for the SNP - or any other small party for that matter - to seek the office of Speaker. Holding on to your own representatives is far more important. You can maybe imagine the Liberal Democrats thinking to themselves that they have a "duty" to give up one of their number if that is thought to be in the best interests of parliament, but it should be no part of any pro-independence party's function to help make the British parliament work, particularly not at a cost to the independence cause.
My guess is that the bid to become Speaker was Wishart's own crazy idea and his SNP colleagues just indulged him because they knew he had zero chance anyway. In his own mind he probably saw it as a de facto audition for some kind of lesser role within the Commons committee system.
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And just a quick thanks to the people who have got in touch privately over the last 48 hours to offer supportive words after the latest social media pile-on from Stuart Campbell and his fan club, and to encourage me to keep speaking out. Although it may sometimes appear that it's only the "trendy" wing of the SNP, the Greens and the ex-RISE radical left who have wised up to Mr Campbell, in fact there are a good number of people from other parts of the movement, including card-carrying members of the Alba Party, who realise that he's ceased to be a friend of the independence cause and that to some extent he's become a problem that needs to be solved (not that there are any easy solutions). However, they understandably feel unable to say that in public because they know they would be instantly monstered, including by people they regard as friends. But I, at least, have nothing to lose by continuing to speak up - or if there is anything to lose, it's barely worth having if it entails going along with the pretence that Mr Campbell is somehow a "vital asset" that the movement "needs". (In reality, his following among the general public is very limited, and probably always has been - which is just as well in view of some of his behaviour over recent years.)
Mr Campbell's disciples may have conveniently forgotten the events of January 2021 five minutes after they happened, but I certainly didn't - that was the moment at which any lingering illusions I had about who Mr Campbell is, and what he's about, melted away forever. Others I've spoken to have had their own similar individual moments of epiphany, often when Mr Campbell's vindictive wrath threatened to cause them (or actually did cause them) genuine personal harm. So the endless attempts on social media to bully, mock or "yawn" me into silence, and to make me think that there's much too high a price to pay for making further legitimate criticisms of Mr Campbell in future, will if anything have the opposite effect from the one intended. I don't respond favourably to bullying, and it simply redoubles my determination to continue to call out, for example, any misrepresentations about independence polling numbers that may appear on Mr Campbell's "closed", "non-existent" website now that he appears to have returned to blogging full-time. Blatant fibs about polling have become a persistent problem on Wings since he first turned against the campaign for independence several years ago - can anyone see any particular reason why they should go unchallenged? Nope, me neither.
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