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The radical elites have misjudged the Yes movement – Towards Indyref2…

The radical elites have misjudged the Yes movement

Some have labelled it a schism. Others describe it as infighting. The more melodramatic claim it is a Yes civil war.

I refer of course to the online fallout over the attack on Wings Over Scotland by the editor of Common Space.

Angela Haggerty’s attack on Stuart Campbell has dominated social media for days. What prompted it isn’t clear given Campbell’s defamation action against Kezia Dugdale has been public knowledge for some time prior to the Common Space editor deciding it was unwise and ego driven.

An article entitled ‘Why we should back Kezia Dugdale and send Wings Over Scotland packing‘ appeared in Common Space last week.  The writer denounced WOS as nothing more than “a man and a blog” which has “a strange cult following”.

Days later Haggerty used the issue as the basis for her weekly column in the Sunday Herald. In her own article she compared Stuart Campbell to former SSP leader Tommy Sheridan and suggested ego was a driving factor in the action against Dugdale.

The Common Space editor also argued that Campbell’s actions were dividing Yessers on social media, saying of the Wings Over Scotland editor: “He is already a controversial character within the Yes movement, and Yessers on social media are divided about whether this defamation case is the right course of action.”

Are Yessers on social media divided? I myself conducted a poll on social media that asked participants whether they backed Campbell’s defamation case or not.

Of the 2770 who took part, a staggering 74% backed Campbell against a paltry 8% who disagreed with his course of action.

There is no social media division amongst Yessers. Campbell enjoys a near ten to one majority on the issue.

The Common Space editor also claimed the defamation action could have ramifications for the Yes movement, adding: “Given his close links to the Yes campaign, Campbell’s case could embroil the movement in an unedifying spat.”

Stuart Campbell’s case has got nothing to do with the Yes movement. He has brought an action against someone he believes has defamed him. He is no more representative of the Yes movement than Frankie Boyle is of the comedy circuit.

In 2012 Frankie Boyle successfully brought an action against the Daily Mirror after the newspaper described him as “racist”.

The comedian won £54,650 in damages. What of his reputation and career if he had done nothing?

What we are witnessing is not a split, a spat, a schism or division within the Yes movement, but a misunderstanding of that movement by elements of the radical left.

These self-styled elites have been trying to piggy-back the Yes movement since the referendum of 2014 and keep getting it spectacularly wrong. This misunderstanding fuelled the calamity that was RISE. It led to the near collapse of Bella Caledonia after the RISE debacle and has now resulted in a backlash against the Common Space.

What is this misunderstanding you ask? It is this. The elites cannot see that, deep down, the Yes movement is a simple beast. That it seeks independence first above all else. They cannot see that the vast majority of those who wish independence know that it cannot be achieved by taking the side of Unionists over other Yes activists or continually sniping at the SNP.

Moreover, this same Yes movement is not as unsophisticated as some elites appear to believe and is perfectly capable of discerning agenda driven smear from honest healthy debate. Most of all, the Yes movement is loyal.

To most in the wider Yes community, the attack on Stuart Campbell is driven not by a desire to help the Yes movement, but by envy and/or grudge. They see a vendetta. Wings has been in the cross-hairs of the radical left for quite some time.

The attack on Stuart Campbell by members of the radical left was in contrast to the support those same people gave to Cat Boyd after she announced how proud she was to have voted Labour in the general election. In the space of two weeks, the radical left has twice adopted a stance which contrasted with that of the wider Yes movement. In both, it has chosen to implicitly align itself with Scottish Labour over the Yes movement.


If there is an unedifying spat at all, it is between these elites and the wider Yes movement they continue to misjudge. It’s a misjudgement that has witnessed the editor of the Sunday Herald demand some Yessers shut up.

In a tweet this Sunday, Neil Mackay said: “Jesus, as a Yes voter I wish half the folk on twitter who claim to support independence would just shut up. Their dumb, toxic bile is ruinous.”

Mackay wasn’t specific about who should shut up, but it’s reasonable to assume he was referring to supporters of Stuart Campbell given that in his very next tweet he praised Haggerty, describing her as “one of the best columnists in the business.”

In these tweets we see the root of the whole problem. The elites have created their own hierarchy, and they sit at the top. The rest of us are too vulgar to be heard. They despise Stuart Campbell not because he runs the most popular blog, but because he runs the most popular blog and isn’t one of them.


Yet they constantly fail to realise just why he is so successful. Stuart Campbell doesn’t try to ingratiate himself with the main stream media. He isn’t desperate to receive the validation of the professional commentariat. He doesn’t crave a career as a BBC pundit. He doesn’t play by their rules.

The radical left has miscalculated the Wings/Dugdale defamation issue. If social media comments are anything to go by, Common Space has taken a funding hit due to this miscalculation. The miscalculation looks to be continuing if the decision to turn its attention to MP Mhairi Black is anything to go by.

Scottish Independence Convention

And there may be further fall-out from this. At the height of the ‘Wings Witch Hunt’ I opined that it impacted on the recently re-incarnated Scottish Independence Convention.

I recently acquired details of the make-up of the new body which describes itself as the “umbrella group” for Yes groups and Yes organisations. The list of organisations and people involved was interesting.

I may have more to say on the Scottish Independence Convention, but for the time being I’ll restrict myself to a key observation. One of the board members is Common Weal. Common Weal funds Common Space.

In May 2016, in an article entitled ‘The Yesurrection and Indyref2‘ I wrote the following:

Any attempt to resurrect the Yes movement must include all of the major players from indyref1. That includes the Scottish Greens, the socialists, the a-political and the SNP.

There must also be an open door for those within the Unionist party ranks who wish to participate. Alan Grogan caused considerable panic within the No campaign during indyref1 when he launched Labour for Independence.

Ground rules should be agreed. There must be no party-politicking of any description. Everyone would have to agree to abide by a code of conduct. A Yes movement that descended into the kind of SNP sniping we witnessed during the Scottish election would collapse before the year was out.

I was happy for the Common Weal to participate in this re-incarnation of Yes Scotland. However that was before its media outlet the Common Space started taking pot-shots at Wings Over Scotland.

No organisation that seeks to bring the disparate elements of the Yes movement together can hope to succeed if one of its board members is implicitly funding the attack on the most popular pro-Yes blogger.

Sadly things didn’t end there. On the day Angela Haggerty’s Sunday Herald article appeared, I happened across a tweet from Pat Kane.

The tweet was unambiguous in its criticism of Stuart Campbell. Pat appeared to have taken sides. Pat is also one of the co-convenors of the Scottish Independence Convention.

If the Scottish Independence Convention isn’t careful, it will lose the backing of the very people it needs if it is to be successful. I hope those behind it are taking note.


It’s worth re-iterating the origins of this whole episode.  Kezia Dugdale accused Stuart Campbell of homophobia. She did it in a national newspaper and repeated it in the Scottish parliament. The Scottish Labour leader also sought to smear the SNP using the issue.

I know whose side I’m on.


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30 thoughts on “The radical elites have misjudged the Yes movement

  1. Digital Spirit

    Great analysis. As one of the people that helped set up the crowd funding campaign and sm accounts that established Common Weal I can be certain that the attitudes and behaviours of Common Space were not part of the dream.Unsurprisingly voting Labour and bragging about it was definitely not on the list. And i can’t even speak about their behaviour over the Dugdale/Campbell court case. Disappointment doesn’t begin to describe how I feel.

  2. Greig12

    I could be wrong but it seems to me that events are not moving apace for some people and they are hedging their bets. They are jumping ship because they’ve decided their careers would fare better pinned to another mast.

    The first and only priority must be for Scotland to be an independent country. It must transcend all other considerations in what is our disparate group. To argue along party or ethical lines is ridiculous, independence first, sort the rest out after.

    If ones personal ambitions are contrary to or are an obstacle to that goal then one should Fcuk off.

  3. PureScunnert

    “What prompted it isn’t clear given Campbell’s defamation action against Kezia Dugdale has been public knowledge for some time.”

    I’ll tell you what might have prompted it: money. And if that’s the case it’s all very distasteful as well as unforgivable.

    We’ve known for ages about the action but the articles demanding we back Dugdale only appeared after Campbell set up a crowd funding campaign. So it looks suspiciously like it wasn’t the Action that got them mad but the fact that the yes movement hands over so much money so willingly to wings.

    The recent article by Robert Somynne reminded us of the failed attempts by the radical left to set up an alternative media fund that they would administer and distribute. Why? Maybe because their self proclaimed superiority makes them think they’re a more worthy recipient than Wings.

    So is this what it’s all about? Jealousy that we send our hard earned dosh to a site that we find compelling, informative, entertaining and not to the folk they think are more worthy? If not they need to tell us why they took months to suddenly write all these articles condemning Wings’ plan to sue Dugdale instead of the week that we all gave money to Wings again.

  4. Tinto Chiel

    An excellent article. It all boils down to envy and the “elite’s” sense of entitlement and superiority.

    They have been described elsewhere as West-End coffee-house poseurs and that seems to sum up their self-absorbed, sterile pursuit of left-wing purity, always to cool to be supporters of the SG or SNP.

    Lenin complained that left-wing communism was an infantile disorder and I’m sure we’ve all heard the term “the narcissism of small differences”. The British Left have form, and they’ve always been heavily infiltrated by MI5 in any case.

    Proud to be a strange cultist, me.

  5. Clydebuilt

    Haggerd is the STV’s choice for their representative of the YES movements . That’s enough to arouse suspicions. She’s not the YES movements chosen person.

    Recently she’s defended a radical careerist who voted for a unionist party that support Trident and leaving the EU.

    Great article George

  6. Dan Huil

    Excellent article. I support Stuart Campbell; he is right to take action against britnat Dugdale. I don’t read the Herald or Sunday Herald any more. I don’t believe the Yes movement is divided on the WOS/Dugdale issue, as your poll points out. The vast majority know who’s in the right.

    As we approach indyref2 we must expect more attempts to hinder the Yes movement by the media.

    Eyes on the prize.

  7. Robert Graham

    i guess those at common space who misjudged the whole situation , are presently looking under desks and in cupboards for the big red reset and , rewind button .

    I wonder how close the links are between Kezia and her new best friends at Common Space , maybe they are hoping for some kind of labour revival on the back of Corbyns success in England , well as usual Kezia thinks we all have a short term Memory loss,, We remember she never backed Corbyn , Ever .
    Kezia also forgets who she should be confronting at Holyrood ,the people at common space seen to have acquired the same type of affliction , wrong target , a real mistake that they might regret making .

  8. DC

    Put all the distractions to one side. Ignore all the little card tricks, sleights of hand and false flags.

    Boil it all down to one thing. Do you want Westminster to hold final say on Scotland?

    Labour does. If you agree with Labour on one issue, they will hijack your agreement as tacit support, and use that to fuel their Westminster-run agenda.

    Or you can focus on #Scotref, and look at all the little reasons why Scotland missed a massive opportunity in 2014, and why the Better Together message was an utter sham of colossal proportions.

    Still Yes. Always will be.

  9. manandboy

    Great piece, GA, and much needed.

    The golden rule is unity in diversity.

    Commonspace need to go back to this basic principle and start again. The link between them and the Yes movement has been broken, but an apology of some kind will be enough to reunite them with the Independence movement. But with people, it’s rarely that simple, which is a pity. We shall have to wait and see I guess.

    One thing’s for sure – there can be no voting for Jeremy Corbyn in the Independence movement. No exceptions, none whatsoever.

    1. Jon

      Maybe it’s better that Commonspace are kept out of the YES movement, limits their usefulness for the Union in the future.
      What we have just witnessed from CS and Boyd is just the start.

      Keep them out of the tent

  10. Jockanese Wind Talker

    It seems to me Haggerty, Boyd and Small all suffer from the same afflictions.

    1. They are careerist pontificators

    2. They are jealous of the success of WoS

    Simple as that.

    CS and Bella can only wish for the kind of fundraising WoS attracts in its crowd funders.

    I remember Bella spat the dummy with its “we are closing” statement before being bailed out by The National because they appeared to not be able to pay themselves as handsomely as they’d have liked via crowd funding.

    Also never forget that BLiS has always had a willing Cadre of NUJ Card carrying ‘journalists’.

    Some have stood for election (Catriona Renton springs to mind).

    And some who will, for BLiS protect/deflect etc. in return for ‘exclusive’ stories and entertainment on Party expenses (remember the ‘Red Tops’ when BLiS/Fib Dems were in coalition at Holyrood).

    Remember how that ‘political tittle tattle’ dried up in 2007?

  11. Pingback: You cannot be serious! – Towards Indyref2…

  12. A missing point

    There’s an important missing point that suggests deeper problems.

    Robert Somynne, who suddenly left CommonSpace, has said there was ‘a culture of bullying, spite, disrespect and hypocrisy’ with no ‘Editorial consistency and professional respect’.

    He compliments three colleagues – but not editor Angela Haggerty. Revealing.


  13. John Stewart

    Splendid article!
    All this would-be divisiveness, brought about by the Radical Leftists seems to be somewhat parallel to the schisms brought about by the over-intellectualisation of Communism, especially in its early days. Then there was Marxism/Leninism/Trotskyism/Stalinism.

    People of the Left! Focus on the End-Game – Independence – and stop making assertions of your moral and intellectual superiority!

    While being somewhat bemused by the generous use of expletives by WOS, from time to time, I am constantly amazed and delighted by its insight, research and well referenced articles. Stu is right to pursue his action and no degree of self-righteous garbage and indignation from the leftists (Gauche would be appropriate) will change that position.

    Scotland Will Flourish, through the focussed, UNITED drive towards and achievement of Independence, not through pseudo-intellectualism.

  14. John McGroran

    Be careful what you wish for. Without the west end hipster wanks, you don’t get anywhere close to the required 50.0001%

    1. Sam

      These west end wanks, are currently working to move votes from the SNP to Labour .
      The sooner they are out of the Yes movement the less damage they can do.

  15. Ronnie

    Clearly Angela needed to increase traffic and exposure for her fund raiser but her methods expose her real priority and that is not independence, its building her media platform Common Space.

  16. David

    I was active in the last referendum as part of Yes and got involved in the RIC. I used to think of myself as left. As the campaign rolled on I became more disillusioned with both. The bit that worried the No side and I now realise many in Yes was that many of those involved in the Yes campaign were not seasoned campaigners and we didn’t know or give a monkies what the rules where.

    If someone lied we called them a liar.

    By the end of the campaign, we were getting told who and what we should say or do. Don’t march, don’t have street stalls etc. Door knocking is the proven method and that’s what you must do.

    Since the referendum, I have tried to get back into it if there is another ref, however, I know I won’t as the arseholes that’ll lead the campaign are just that, arseholes.

  17. Betty Boop

    Regarding SIC, I have never considered it as anything more than a self-appointed, mainly self-important grouping who seem to ignore that the Yes movement didn’t come to a halt after indyref even if some of them did. Like a lot of the “new” media, I suspect it is yet another soapbox for self-promoters. That’s a lot of “selfs”, but, that is the impression, selfish people using indy to catapult themselves into a job.

    For goodness sake, was there not one person on the panel at SIC with a sign in front of him saying he was from Yes Scotland? Really? Yes Scotland does not exist and we have to do better than that next time anyway.

    There have been moves amongst Yes groups to build their own network(s) and when it comes to a campaign, they will undoubtedly become very active.

  18. lorna shields

    ” elite wannabes” might be more appropriate seeing as these journos-on-the-make are no where near the top of the tree

  19. David holmes

    A cynic might say that MI5 have always believed the homosexual community is one that can easily be manipulated. Given MI5 infiltration into certain so called independence groups, it is not really surprising where the fuel is coming from that is stoking this particular fire

  20. Angry Weegie

    Haggerty hires Caitlin Logan whose first action is to troll through Mhairi Black’s social media to find some dirt. I wonder whose idea it was? It’s the sort of action you’d expect the Daily Heil or the Sexpress to take, but Common Space?

  21. Stu re

    I find common space/ weak just a rehash of the red tory parties rejected idealists. I read their articles and at times they are good and informative but others I puke at them. My money always has and always will go to wings. The others do not have the same pannash as the rev nor are the rev’s blogs bias, one sided or self served contemptious twaddle.

  22. Brian

    Dugdale’s accusation was clearly based on her anger that WOS continually calls out her constant flip flopping and revisionist statements. She saw an opportunity to smear him and took it. He is right to take action to defend himself. Any decent person would do the same.

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