There's a fascinating comment on the previous thread which wonders aloud whether Wings is being deliberately used as a breeding ground for crazy QAnon-style conspiracy theories as a way to "demoralise and turn the independence movement", in order to prevent us from being an effective grassroots force in the face of Westminster obstructionism. The commenter charts a darkening of the mood in the Wings BTL section, particularly since the start of the year, with mutterings about "globalists capturing small countries first" and with the SNP being increasingly equated with "evil, a disgrace, deviant, disgusting, nonce". As you know, I'm also deeply concerned that a few senior people in my own party (Alba) have been using language like "Scottish Nonce Party" and suggesting a vote for the SNP is equivalent to a vote for Jimmy Savile, and I think we desperately need to distance ourselves from this dreadful stuff before it gets totally out of hand.
It's also pointed out in the comment that some Wings BTL posters have been making "nod, nod, wink, wink" suggestions about Scottish politicians, and that Stuart Campbell himself has encouraged this by "dropping names in at various points of his weaving rants tenuously linking awful/sick people with elected officials". Well, I can tell you from personal experience that it sometimes goes way, way beyond "nod, nod, wink, wink". There's one Wings follower calling himself "PeeJay" who is constantly trying to leave comments on this blog, and many of them contain baseless allegations of sexual crimes made against named politicians and public figures. I don't think I've been able to publish any of PeeJay's comments for more than two years, because they're invariably so extreme in nature. Almost all of them contain one or more of the following features -
1) Baseless allegations of a sexual nature against named politicians or public figures.
2) Extreme homophobic language, often directed against named politicians or public figures.
3) Extreme racist language, often directed against named politicians or public figures.
4) Extreme misogynistic language, often directed against named politicians or public figures.
5) Calls for named individuals to be subjected to extreme violence or murder.
6) Endorsements of stock far-right conspiracy theories.
7) Suggestions that Covid is just a cold and that not one person has ever died from it. (In reality, between 16 and 28 million people worldwide are estimated to have died of Covid so far - a death toll similar to the First World War.)
Below is a small selection of his attempted comments, just so you can see what I have to wade through in my inbox on a near-daily basis. But this really is just the tip of the iceberg. The first one is from just a few hours ago. It's difficult to know how to present these, because the content is so extreme that I can't publish them totally uncensored, but on the other hand there's no point in publishing them at all unless you can gain a decent idea of what he's saying. So I've blotted out letters in the 'P' word and the 'C' word, and I've also blotted out the name of the person he makes an extreme allegation against.
Obviously Stuart Campbell can't be directly blamed for what his supporters write, but if I was spontaneously attracting people like this guy to my corner, I'd be concerned that I was going very seriously wrong somewhere.
The thoughtful comment left on the previous thread deserves, I think, to be read by as many people as possible, so here it is in full -
"Your post does sound conspiratorial but if you listen to the bbc podcast about the Qanon influence of the capital riots, it becomes arguable power brokers are feeding the culture war machine for their own ends. Gabriel Gatehouse goes right back to the beginnings of conspiracy theories with surprising protagonists apparently feeding the frenzy surreptitiously. It's a good podcast as it doesn't go at it from one side, there are faults on both left and right. Anyway, I digress.
What happens in America can morph into a UK phenomenon quickly in the internet age. We've gone from talking about pensions/currency to furries (a word I had and still did not need to know). The QAnon story has changed to "grooming" and an evil regime wanting access to kids. It's insane but there are seemingly intelligent people being taken in by this. I think we're seeing our own version now in Scotland. If you look at Wings BTL comments, there are loads making nod, nod, wink, wink suggestions about Scottish politicians. In fact, Stuart Campbell is doing it himself dropping names in at various points of his weaving rants tenuously linking awful/sick people with elected officials. There are legitimate issues with the Trans bill but I sense a tiny but increasingly louder minority are starting to equate the SNP as evil, a disgrace, deviant, disgusting, nonce. That "the Globalists" "capture" small countries first (New Zealand, Scotland, Finland) as part of their "ends". I see this insane view percolating out at an alarming rate since the turn of the year. I can't believe I'm saying this but am I alone in noting this?
It's not that these people are significant in number versus the population but can have an influence on the grassroots. Let's face it, we're going to need a grassroots movement in the face of a wall to our agreed referendum hopes. I feel all of this is a way to demoralise and turn the movement.
I cannot believe I am saying this but I now believe Wings is being used to feed this chaos to attempt to stamp out unity in the independence movement for good. I hope we can get out of it but this type of culture war is a bottomless pit and such a waste of energy."
"Somerset calling, Somerset calling !"ReplyDelete
Will today be yet another Trans Day on Wings? He hasn't posted yet, the tension mounts. What are the odds? 1/20? 1/50?ReplyDelete
Yes, it's Trans Day on Wings - again! Make that his twenty-third post in a row about trans people. Who'd have thunk it?Delete
You could report PeeJay to the police for homophobic hate-speech directed against yourself, James. I've no idea if you're actually gay, but it doesn't matter. He's suggesting you are and subjecting you to hate because of it.ReplyDelete
Well, in theory I could, but would there be much point? He hides behind the cloak of anonymity and I'd be surprised if there's any easy way of tracing him back. I have a sneaking suspicion I know which moniker he uses on Wings, but again, proving that connection would be nigh-on impossible. (And you're correct that it doesn't make any difference, but for the record I'm not gay, as the Random Totty From Freedom Square can testify.)Delete
Oh yeah, deffo not gayDelete
When Pete Wishart is using your blogs to attack ALBA then perhaps it's time to cool down your bitter feud with Wings, after all, he's not even a member of our party.ReplyDelete
With all due respect, Robert, that is an entirely inappropriate and unwise comment for you to make, and I'm confident that after reflection you'll recognise that. You're correct about one thing, and about one thing only - Stuart Campbell is not a member of our party. He is a self-confessed Tory voter in southern England who is currently not in favour of an independent Scotland. It's therefore not remotely clear on what basis you would wish to 'shush' me about his appalling views or his inexcusable behaviour. Do you regard him as some sort of political ally or fellow traveller? If so, only you can explain why - but many people will be both puzzled and perplexed by that.Delete
As you can see for yourself, this blogpost is overwhelmingly not about our party at all - it's about Stuart Campbell and his follower PeeJay. I suspect you may also wish, on reflection, that you had taken a moment in your comment to express a degree of revulsion at the homophobia, racism, and incitement to extreme violence contained in PeeJay's posts. Perhaps you simply forgot to do so in your eagerness to shield a Tory supporter in Bath from legitimate and wholly warranted criticism.
To state the obvious, I have no control whatever over the writings of Mr Pete Wishart, who frequently contradicts himself, misrepresents the views of others, and resorts to quite brazen double-standards. I can therefore not be held responsible for him misrepresenting this blogpost as being primarily about Alba. If you intend to hold individuals personally responsible for ensuring they are never misrepresented by Mr Wishart, then your "wheesht" message will have to be taken to every single Alba member, and it will have to apply to pretty much any comment they could make on any conceivable subject. In short, you will have a party of thousands held by a vow of total monastic silence. Good luck enforcing that.
If we can move back from Wishart-world to the real world, Alba is only mentioned in passing in this blogpost, and only in reference to specific comments on social media about the "Scottish Nonce Party" and about a vote for the SNP being equivalent to a vote for Jimmy Savile. You'll have seen those comments yourself, as thousands of others will have, and you'll know that the Jimmy Savile comment was made by someone who is not only a member of the Alba NEC, but also a national office bearer. It is therefore disquieting that you would give any impression that the problem is the people who criticise those comments, rather than the comments themselves. As it happens, I recently had a chance opportunity to raise my concerns about the effect of the Jimmy Savile comment (and others like it) on the public perception of Alba and the party's reputation. The message came back loud and clear that Alba can't be like the SNP and that people's freedom of expression can't be curtailed. That's fine - I actually wholeheartedly agree with that. But here's the thing: that principle must be applied *consistently* to *everyone*. If national office bearers have the latitude to make some pretty extreme comments on the grounds of freedom of expression, then there is frankly zero justification for trying to shush ordinary members like myself who are exercising exactly the same right to freedom of expression by putting forward the case for moderation, and for making sure there is clear water between our party and the extremism that Wings represents, and for a long-overdue return to a focus on independence.
So I trust, Robert, that there will be no further inappropriate attempts to police the contents of this blog, especially not in the service of a Tory supporter who has - thankfully - nothing to do with our party and who is hellbent on leading our movement and our cause onto the rocks.
Bravo, James! I entirely agree.Delete
Astoundingly, Robert Reid has just admitted to me on Twitter that he didn't read a single word of this blogpost before commenting on it and effectively saying it should never have been written. The reason he didn't comment on the incitement to murder in the screenshots was that he didn't know that it was there. Even having had it explained to him that this is a blogpost about homophobia, racism and incitement to extreme violence, he still doesn't seem to particularly care and is just continuing with the "Wheesht for Stu, Wheesht for Wishart" message.Delete
I have no words. I've heard it all now.
I'm deeply disturbed that an Alba NEC member doesn't seem to think that threats of severe violence against Nicola Sturgeon are worth taking seriously, or commenting on, or even READING, apparently. I know it's awkward for you James because you've been on the Alba NEC yourself, but well done for calling him out on it. Truly bizarre.Delete
Peejay calls for the First Minister of Scotland to be "strung up, impaled, burned at the stake, or shot dead" and young Robert reacts with a stifled yawn as if it's all a bit of a joke? Christ on a stick.Delete
RR hadn't crossed my radar before tonight, or if he had I didn't realise he was an elected Alba official. He strikes me as a well-meaning but naive young lad who has a lot to learn.Delete
Wow. Remarkably naive and self-defeating from young Robert Reid. Someone should warn him that the optics of sweeping death threats, extreme homophobia and misogyny under the rug reflects far worse on Alba than the optics of actually calling them out.Delete
"We shouldn't condemn death threats and disgraceful bigotry because rival parties might criticise us." Well congratulations Robert, that line of thinking has just given rival parties entirely justifiable reason to criticise you and your ridiculous priorities.
Quite right on having no truck with it, James. But I fear, like Sisyphus, you might ultimately find that you're fighting a losing battle.
I hope I'm wrong. But an increasingly vocal element of Alba seems to be reaching for the swivel-eyed loon starter pack.
The comment on the article "Thoughts on Nicola Sturgeon's Statement" is beyond the pale and should be flagged to the police. It's taking the right to free speech into threats to life territory.ReplyDelete
That comment is not remotely uncommon. If I searched my inbox I could produce another twenty or thirty from PeeJay just like it. When I was preparing this post, I found one from just after the Supreme Court verdict, in which he identified a judge who he said "should be taken from life".Delete
I am appalled by comments like that. How do we know this person won't act on these nasty fantasies? In actual fact, we can't be certain this person isn't totally unhinged. Hence pass them to the police.Delete
PeeJay sounds like a lovely guy.ReplyDelete
Speaking of lovely guys, Scottish Skier on WGD accuses Alex Salmond of attacking trans people by describing self-id as a "daft ideology". If that's an attack on trans people, how should we describe the following?
"Incidentally, as research scientist, I'm absolutely in the 'you can't get women with penises' camp. I might be mr uber liberal, but I live in the world of fact, and believe in science based law."
"If we allow different sexed bodies into same sex spaces, then we defeat their entire purpose. If e.g. trans women want to keep their male sexed body as is, then using the male body or sex neutral facilities seems the only fair option. In Thailand, where 'ladyboys' are a part of life, they use the male sex facilities if they keep their male genitalia."
Yes, these strongly anti-self-ID remarks were posted on this very blog just a couple of years back by the same SS. "Ladyboys" ffs.
I vaguely remember him saying that. His views do tend to 'evolve' rather speedily and conveniently.Delete
Now he's suggesting it's good we lost the referendum because Salmond would have been FM. Better to be in a UK run by Johnson, Truss or Sunak than an independent Scotland run by a leader he doesn't like. He's basically a less articulate Wings.Delete
Mysterious that he didn't express that view in 2014. He spent most of his time that year posting on Wings with dozens of spurious reasons why Yes were supposedly 'guaranteed' to win.Delete
If Campbell thought he could use an abusive or threatening post from a third party towards him which contravened the hate crime legislation I don't think that he would have any hesitation in punting it onto the relevant authorities to deal with it.ReplyDelete
That's probably true. I reported something totally unconnected to the police a few months ago and the response (initially, at least) was somewhat disinterested and dismissive, so that's probably why I find the idea of going down that road again a bit daunting.Delete
It is, however, the police's job to determine whether this is someone just running off at the mouth or not. A man in Aberdeenshire was found guilty, last week, of threatening to "assassinate" the FM as well as threats to another MSP. He and an accomplice also detained a Sheriff and sat on him!Delete
It's a fact that in 2017 Campbell was arrested, all his devices at the time were seized and he was taken to London by a special Met team rather than by his local bobbies to their local station. Then... nothing. Released with no charges, without returning any of the seized devices.ReplyDelete
Ever since then, we've watched his long, steady slide towards endorsing the Tories and turning against independence. By now it should be obvious that he was turned with a carrot-and-stick approach: "Cooperate and we'll top up those donations generously. Or resist and we'll put you in prison."
I am now waiting for someone to post that the 'real' Stu Campbell is languishing in a cell in London and that the one currently churning out the daily hysterical anti-independence posts is a clone.Delete
"It's a fact that in 2017 Campbell was arrested, all his devices at the time were seized and he was taken to London by a special Met team"Delete
No, it's not a fact. But far be it from me to intrude on your mad conspiracy theories.
The Guardian: "Wings over Scotland blogger arrested for alleged harassment"Delete
Facts in that article which match the claims in the above comment:Delete
1. I got arrested.
Daily Record: "Pro-independence blogger Wings Over Scotland arrested over alleged online harassment.Delete
Stuart Campbell, who runs the Wings Over Scotland website, was arrested on Friday at an address in the Avon and Somerset area and bailed pending further enquiries."
Facts in that article which match the claims in the above comment:Delete
1. I got arrested.
I'm not wasting any more of my time on you nutcases now.
Guido Fawkes: "WINGS OVER SCOTLAND ARRESTED. If you have ever criticised the SNP on social media you are likely to have come across Wings Over Scotland, a shouty crackers blogger known for his grumpy Cybernat tweets. Wings, real name Stuart Campbell, has been arrested at his home in Somerset."Delete
Fair play, this is an impressive commitment to stupidity. I'm going to say this one last time, slowly enough so even you might understand it:Delete
It's the rest of the claim that's bullshit.
The Herald: "EXCLUSIVE - Wings Over Scotland author arrested after woman alleges harassment. The controversial pro-independence blogger Stuart Campbell has been arrested by police after a woman alleged she was the victim of a two-year campaign of online harassment."Delete
Do you think he's been caught doing something pretty bad and he got a plea deal?ReplyDelete
I don't know that it matters after so long. There is no way to verify if any kompromat on those devices was his own doing or subsequently planted.Delete
Either way, Campbell probably understood that a trial by media where his strongest defence would be "the Tories' secret police fitted me up, honest" would probably not go well for him. Someone would point and laugh and say something like "Aye right! What's next, you're a clone?"
That thought has crossed my mind more than once over the years. Occam's razor and just general experience suggests the truth is rather simpler and more boring, but that doesn't mean it's not actually the case this time.Delete
You people really are disgusting.Delete
A wise man once said to me "there's no smoke without fire".Delete
James, it's craig murray here. For years I have been frustrated by the weird comment registration thing on your site that gives you a choice of Google ID or Anonymous. There is a third choice whch won't accept my website url is a url.ReplyDelete
I am confused by the whole basis of this post. I have been regularly following and commenting on Wings for 9 years - same as your blog - and I have honestly no recollection of ever seeing this peejay identity. Why do you associate him with Stu Campbell?
Hi Craig, I've been watching on with a fair bit of amusement over the course of the evening as several Wings commenters have taken exactly the same tack that you've just taken - ie. claiming that they simply cannot comprehend how a commenter calling himself PeeJay on this blog could possibly be a Wings follower given that there is no commenter on the Wings site using the same name. There's been an element of "what sharp teeth you have, grandmother" about the whole thing. Doubtless you will be *staggered* to learn that PeeJay uses different names on the two sites - an obvious possibility that apparently didn't occur to a single Wings commenter. He actually only started using the name PeeJay relatively recently - he previously posted entirely anonymously here. I'm reasonably confident I know which moniker he uses on Wings.Delete
And if you want me to provide copious further screenshots to prove to you his hero worship of Campbell, I'm more than happy to do so, although the first screenshot in this post is a good example.
I haven't posted here for some time but I pop in from time to time to read the runes on polls etc. I used to be a Wings regular and contributed financially. I marched with the Wings contingent at the big Edinburgh rally in 2013 and met both Nicola and Stu. Happy days!ReplyDelete
The raid on Stu by the police initiated by the Express journalist claiming harassment as I recall and the I'll fated defamation case against Kezia were turning points. The latter in particular soured Stus view of life and Scotland's institutions. I don't know what Wings has become or what the remaining regulars hope to achieve. Some of the posters there are undoubtedly concern trolls. I see many of the same arguments posted by unashamedly rabid Tory unionists on other sites. Stu in part blamed Nicola for much of what he perceives as wrong with Scotland and he will not hold back. Stu is like a container ship, he doesn't change course often or quickly. Once on a route he steams on regardless. The Tran thing doesn't interest me. Of the 10 most pressing political issues of the age it ranks about 53 for me. It clearly is No 1 for some people and I can see that some of the Trans activists have all the guile and subtlety of a cheese grater applied to the nether regions, inflaming already tender areas. Enraging is not the same as waking. However, it is not what independence is about for me and consequently the incessant arguments about the subject quickly become a bore. I hope things will move on but they probably won't. Labour will likely win the next UK election and introduce their own GRA. God knows what Wings will do then. Wings over Mississippi?
Goodness me, my humble analysis has gone viral. Feel almost modern.ReplyDelete
For what it's worth, I don't bear Alba or the SNP any ill will. I've noted this change in rhetoric recently and stand by everything in my comment. I'm hopeful the damage can be undone but there are those that do not want it undone and we should be aware of this. I think it's better to nip this in the bud now than carry on with it boiling over. Whether it's gullible or intelligent people, I think we need to call out the poor behaviour and make people see sense. There has been a notable change and it's poisoning progress.
Another fabulous post, James. Please continue using your site to keep a close eye on RevStu and his acolytes - because someone's got to watch the w***ers.ReplyDelete