The third stooge

Two of the ‘leading SNP figures’ who were duped by journalist Neil Mackay into providing material for his wearisome rehashing of the British Nationalist ‘vile cybernat’ trope have since sought to distance themselves from the article claiming that they were misrepresented. Some may consider that Alyn Smith and Stewart McDonald did themselves no favours by admitting to being so naive.

The third stooge, Angus Roberston, has taken a rather different approach to dealing with the backlash from the article in The Herald last Sunday under the headline ‘SNP declares war on cybernats’ While disassociating himself from the headline – despite having been happy to Tweet it – Robertson chooses to stand by the article. Or, to be more precise, he chooses to stand by his own contribution to the piece asking that we disregard the fact that this contribution became part of a shallow regurgitation of the tired old British Nationalist ‘vile cybernat’ trope.

By Angus Robertson’s account, it is not Neil Mackay who is misrepresenting his words but “intemperate” online Yes campaigners expressing their indignation at having been called, inter alia, vile, nasty and cowardly by senior figures in the SNP.

Of course, Robertson deploys the standard disclaimer – if you were offended by what was said, then it wasn’t you being referred to. But this is a feeble defence given the tone of an article so firmly lodged in that genre of British Nationalist propaganda which seeks to portray all online Yes activists as ‘vile, nasty and cowardly’.

Robertson insists that his words were not an “attack on independence marchers”. But he surely had to be aware that, coming the day after 100,000 people took to the streets of Glasgow in a massive, joyous demonstration of support for independence, an article such as he cooperated with would inevitably be seen as an attempt to diminish that event. Not least because that is precisely what was intended.

He insists his words were not meant to impugn “hard working decent volunteers “. But how could he not know how the article would be framed given that there have been so many such pieces in the past?

Such protestations of innocent intent have to be viewed in the light of what Robertson actually said.

The most important thing in the wider Yes movement is to adopt a new open and welcoming tone. The fact that this has become an issue which people are now prepared to call out is a good first step in hopefully resetting public discourse and letting those people know who engage in this kind of offensive and malicious behaviour that it’s unacceptable …

Regardless of whether a small and unrepresentative group of people continue in their unacceptable ways – which sadly I fear will be the case – I think if people in general are aware that they are unrepresentative on both sides, that has to be a positive step in the right direction.

That first sentence refers explicitly to the Yes movement as a whole and clearly implies that it has not hitherto been “open and welcoming”. Otherwise, why would it need a “new” such tone. Asked about ‘online abuse’, Robertson immediately responds with a reference to the Yes movement. Thus creating an association between the two. If this was deliberate, then is is deplorable. If it was unintentional, it is just as deplorable coming as it does from someone considered qualified to speak for the SNP.

The whole tone of Robertson’s contribution to an article about ‘online abuse’ suggests acceptance of the sense in which that term is presented in British Nationalist propaganda. At best, it is horribly clumsy. At worst, it is unforgivably reckless.

It doesn’t matter that he goes on to talk of “a small and unrepresentative group of people”. The damage is already done. It was done the moment Angus Robertson heard Neil Mackay ask about ‘online abuse’, and decided not to hang up immediately.


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2 thoughts on “The third stooge

  1. Robertson endorsed the original article in his tweet on the morning it was published; this article just adds to the mess of his, and the others’, creation.

    “The most important thing in the wider Yes movement is to adopt a new open and welcoming tone.”

    What the heck is this assertion about? He provides no proof of the opposite. He is clearly saying that the Yes movement hasn’t – previously – been open/welcoming. I’ve seen no sign of this being a widespread problem and no one thought that during the period leading up to the 2014 referendum. Everyone spoke about how fun and welcoming the Yes movement was. He must be well out of touch with the grassroots.

    On the whole, I’m most disappointed in Robertson. I thought he was better than this. He’s not the man I thought he was. He’s just deepening the hole he dug.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hmm. So AR believes that ‘hard working, decent volunteers’ are not capable of feeling frustrated, annoyed and let dowm (mostly by their leadership), that they would take to public platforms to vent that frustration for which they’re in turn publically castigated by the good boys. Seems he has zero understanding of both leadership and human nature and would be best to zip it. If anyone wants to admonish what they believe is ‘nasty’ behaviour, let’s have names, times and incidents of who exactly said what to whom. Remembering that decorum is no measure of civility, because insults can be wrapped in fluffy rhetoric and be every bit as powerfully insulting as cussing.

    Liked by 3 people

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