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Wings Over Scotland labelled ‘Hate Blog’ by Bella Caledonia editor – Towards Indyref2…

Wings Over Scotland labelled ‘Hate Blog’ by Bella Caledonia editor

Scotland’s most popular pro-independence website has been labelled a “hate blog” by a pro-independence rival.

Mike Small, who edits Bella Caledonia, levelled the accusation at Wings Over Scotland in an online article published on Sunday.

In the article, Small wrote: “Hate-blogs like Wings Over Scotland and Guido Fawkes feed off the anti-media zeitgeist in a frenzy of partisan zeal.”

The left-wing editor, who is a member of the Scottish Independence Convention, also compared pro-independence activists to supporters of US President Donald Trump.  Small added: “Trump supporters bate [sic] the media at live rallies, and Scottish nationalists lobby outside BBC HQ in Glasgow.”

The attack on Wings Over Scotland, which is edited by Stuart Campbell, prompted Campbell to accuse Small of jealousy.  Responding to the ‘Hate Blog’ accusation, Campbell tweeted: “Jealousy is a terrible thing.”

The attack on ‘Wings’ is the latest manifestation of a bitter rivalry that emerged following the 2014 independence referendum as Bella sought to establish itself as the number one pro-Independence alternative outlet. In 2016 Small declared Bella to be “… the largest Scottish-based independence alternative forum …”

However the popularity of the Stuart Campbell blog surged in the aftermath of the 2014 vote, leaving other pro-independence sites, including Bella, in its wake.

Bella Caledonia saw significant erosion in its pro-independence readership when its editor used the site to promote the radical independence group RISE.

A campaign strategy that targeted SNP votes led to bitter acrimony between many Bella/RISE supporters and supporters of the SNP.

The fall in support for his website, and pressures in running it, led to Small to announce its closure in 2017.  It was the third such announcement from the Bella editor since it launched as a blog in 2007.

The site was saved after the launch of an urgent fundraising appeal.  The appeal received support from BBC Scotland business and economy editor Douglas Fraser.  Despite considerable financial support and promotion from high-profile backers since 2014, Small’s site now languishes behind several less prominent pro-Yes blogs in terms of readership.

Research using a traffic estimate site shows Wings Over Scotland is far and away the most popular pro-independence website with 223,000 unique visitors a month.  Its nearest rival is the Wee Ginger Dug blog run by Paul Kavanagh.

Bella Caledonia sits at around sixth place with 48,000 visitors per month behind Common Space in third, James Kelly’s ScotGoesPop in fourth and Thought Control Scotland run by Professor John Robertson in fifth.

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35 thoughts on “Wings Over Scotland labelled ‘Hate Blog’ by Bella Caledonia editor

  1. Shug McGlumpherty

    You’ve missed the dig Mike Small was trying to make when he said “… the largest SCOTTISH-BASED independence alternative forum …”


  2. John

    Mike Small has only himself to blame for the demise of Bella , I used to contribute but stopped when it seemed to me he was a dividing voice . Rather than trying to get the party with the strongest chance for independance into power I felt he was confusing the issue by supporting a party that had little chance .

  3. Jas

    One of my maxims is – ‘Always be wary of those who rush to claim the Moral High Ground’.

    Anyone familiar with Wings/ The Rev/ Stu Campbell knows that he doesn’t suffer fools gladly, but also that he believes in honesty and straight-talking. His way of dissecting news stories to reveal how they have been distorted to suit ideological ends can sometimes be brilliant as well as humourously entertaining. Part of The Rev’s whole style of dismantling BritNat propaganda is to sometimes use wee sweary words along with withering putdowns. The kind of words that in any MSM context would be asterisked out because they are considered offensive to those with sensitive dispositions, no doubt like the Mike Smalls of the world, tut-tutting from their lofty position up on that blessed High Ground.

    Even regular posters on Wings can feel the brunt of The Rev’s wrath if they post something stupid or irrational. The Rev’s a guy who believes in calling a wanker a wanker out loud and that tends to outrage those who comply with what might be described as middle-class notions of right and wrong. Of course if Stu was operating within a more public context he would need to moderate his language and approach. But the genius of Wings is how it steers between the incisive, intellectual dissection of the Scottish Unionist press and The Rev’s tendency to use a bit of working-class, street patter: think – Frankie Boyle, Kevin Bridges, Billy Connolly (in his heyday)..

    And, yes, even though Stu can be scathing at times regarding his opinions of everything under the sun, I believe the independence movement will owe him a great deal of thanks if and when full autonomy is ever achieved.

      1. stewartb

        OK it might be a ‘good comment’ Lara but nothing in Jas’ post comes close to explaining why Mike Small opts to claim that Wings is a ‘hate blog’, does it? That claim, that slur, is beyond the pale IMHO.

        I used to be a frequent visitor to the Bella site – rarely now. I hope it continues and if it wishes it can criticise others in the Yes movement but in a much more measured way than is evident in this “hate blog” comment.

        1. Robert Graham

          Stewartb , makes you wonder who they are working for , just like our civil service , who do they get instructions from . a bit confusing .

        2. Jas

          Hi stewartb, I know very little about Mike Small or BC, but I drop in on Wings most days and am therefore familiar with the way it goes about things. My comment tried to pinpoint aspects of Wings which some sensitive types might find offensive. But it’s by no means a HATE blog.

          As I said above the Rev can be scathing about people’s stupidity or hypocrisy but he never descends into hateful venom within the blog itself. Small is perhaps having a go at the posters on Wings who sometimes display anger and vitriol in reaction to a particular post. It seems to me that many regular posters on Wings are very informed and dedicated to the cause of democracy and independence for Scotland. Sometimes you can almost feel their sense of rage. But generally it’s about about a sense of injustice not blind hatred.

  4. Me Bungo Pony

    I really want to like Bella Caledonia. But the elitism and frequently dismissive attitude towards anyone who does not agree with Mr Small’s views to the letter is just a turn off. I still go there from time to time but not nearly as much as I used to. I don’t want to see it fold but, for its own good, there has to be a change.

  5. MorvenM

    “Jealousy is a terrible thing.” That’s the first thought that came to me too when I heard about this. Must be awful when you’re outclassed by a wee dug as well.:-)

  6. Janet

    Bella seems to favour the State’s interests. Funny that?

    Ignore Bella and vote SNP until the job is done!

  7. Clydebuilt

    Like many I turned away from B. C. I have never seen a good reason why the National supports B. C. with a monthly Saturday supplement.

    Recently The Rev. Described the National as “Rise supporting”. I support the National want it to succeed but have come very close to boycotting if when B. C. Is included.

    1. Robert Graham

      Agreed Clydebuilt , today’s feature ” Shinty ” had me wondering about all the other stories they could have led with , all comments on stories about Alex Salmond have been closed , this is while the Scottish Media are working nights to rubbish his reputation , a lot of folk are as Alex is questioning the process set in place by the permanent secretary, a process that excludes the First Minister by the insertion of a specific clause to include previous ministers, how long has it been since a Unionist held a ministerial position , its probably ten or more years so it was obvious the intention of that little gem , just like the inserted little trap of ” not normally ” in the Scotland Act , the devil is in the detail, and the details and traps have been missed .

    2. John Smith

      It’s one of the reasons I don’t support the National. We have enough enemies in front of us to be dealing with without those who are supposed to be supporting us stabbing us in the back.

  8. Dan Huil

    Without question WoS in the most important and most informative pro-indy website there is. Mr Small seems to be jealous. Perhaps he’d be better off working for the Sunday Post?

  9. Robert Graham

    Douglas Fraser giving support kind of gives the game away ,

    the promotion of RISE and the aftermath of that little venture has caused problems , the lost majority directly led to demands from the Greens for its continued support, a support that doesn’t stop them having some pretty annoying snipes and backing for the Unionist point of view , the repeal of the offences in football act being one of them .

    One of the main contributors to BELLA went on to edit the Herald on Sunday that turned out well , some of the articles by frequent contributors left you scratching your head and checking if you were on a Independence supporting blog .

    That brings me to the National, I contribute to the online edition ,and the piece of the day is ” Shinty ” yep probably important to a lot of folk that follow it ,but is this the best they can do right in the middle of the storm that is heading our way , All discussion and comment about the attack on Alex Salmond has been closed down , while the MSM are in overdrive with comments attempting to drag his name and reputation through the mud , the National features Shinty not my first choice .

    1. John

      Still have my doubts about the National , it is the sister paper to the Hearld and Evening Times, and that speaks volumes .
      I really don’t think it is an independance supporting paper , I think it is Newsquest playing both sides of the field for income .

    2. Clydebuilt

      Aye often the front pages are a dead loss . . . ( been better recently) haven’t seen today’s paper yet. . . .

      The rest of the print media is 100% unionist, not one states its political slant. . . . The only Indepence supporting paper boasts of its sstance on its front page . . . Warning Unionists and soft No’s to steer well clear. . . . Keeping circulation down.

      Perhaps if the paper was otherwise it’s existence wouldn’t be allowed?

      1. Clydebuilt

        I suppose I buy the paper for intertainment (it’s more enjoyable to read than
        than a unionist rag) I don’t see it as a useful tool for the independence cause.

        Read on Wings recently that it’s daily sales are close to the Greenock Telegraph’s, and that its circulation doesn’t reach 10% of the SNP ‘s membership. Somethings obviously going wrong.

        For the first year or so supplies of the paper in shops was unreliable. This didn’t help build up readership numbers

        1. Clydebuilt

          Just got my copy. . . . Shinty isn’t a main feature . . . . Front page is ok. . ..

          Aye used to be hidden . . . Doesn’t seem to happen that much now. . . Must be an army of Yessers putting it to the fore

          1. Robert Graham

            its the daily bulletin of the online edition , probably not the print edition .

  10. Robert Graham

    For those hard of hearing , the reference to SHINTY is the daily bulletin on the ON / LINE edition.

    A good choice ? . well maybe for Shinty followers .

    The closing down of comments about Alex Salmond was my real question Why . and why at a time when the MSM are in total overdrive attempting to out smear each other.

    1. Clydebuilt

      Don’t see why they closed down comments, won’t have much affect, how many folk check out the national’s online comments compared to Wings plus this site?

  11. gregor

    What an insult (& liability?) to the indepenendence movement.

    Small should be working for the BBC or The Guardian.

  12. Mik Johnstone

    Used to read Bella Caledonia all the time but stopped when their support of rise became ridiculous and they started slagging off any SNP members,
    we’re supposed to stick together for the endgame but all they did was try to stop the SNP with the tory parties
    so what now ? having a go at Wings to get a foot up and get themselves a name? they are gaining the wrong kind of name now …

    1. gregor


      The Scottish independence movement needs to stay focused and not be distracted by divisive factions.

      ‘THE BIGGER PICTURE’ matters most.

      Scotland’s fundamental Right to self-determination…

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