Sunday 29 November 2009

Scottish Political Blogging

Again today the MSM are delighting in the exposure of a pro-independence blogger. Many bloggers have posted about Mark MacLachlan being exposed for being an 'anonymous' blogger who should have realised he could be easily traced. I didn't know Mark well and his blog wasn't a regular read of mine, but he must have known he was on very dangerous ground given his position within the SNP. Sadly his family will now suffer too.

Joan MacAlpine has posted eloquently on wider issues under the title of 'The slaughter of the cybernats'.

Last week the MSM and the Scottish blogosphere were most vocal in their condemnation of Bruce Newlands. I was angry at some bloggers who seemed to be under the impression Bruce had destroyed the reputation of the SNP because he used a swear word to describe a politician. Let me say politicians are not above swearing any more than the next man. Bruce unfortunately used a word which is a taboo in this country even though it is defined in the Chambers dictionary, along with other definitions, as:

3 offensive slang an abusive term for an unpleasant person. 4 slang a person in general.

Looking through the history of language, the word he used has some interesting connections derived from its Latin source. These include cuneatus = 'wedge shaped" cuneo = 'I fasten with a wedge', (figurative) 'I wedge in', 'I squeeze in', leading to English words such as cuneiform (wedge-shaped).

Used in the context of describing a leading politician who barges his way past others into a position to get media attention, the word gains a particular relevance.

However the word is offensive to me and others, but so is the word cybernats. The Chambers dictionary does not define it but I find it extremely distasteful.

What many people have ignored is, with the exception of his last couple of posts, Bruce Newlands contributed a great deal to the cause of independence. He worked hard to encourage intelligent debate by setting up Scotsvoices so as those of different view on Scotland's Constitutional Future could discuss how Scotland could overcome the hurdles it will meet. His knowledge of Scottish history was excellent and he was proud to be one of many people who have a desire for Scotland to be recognised as a nation once more.

He wasn't afraid to criticise, such as why the postal votes increased by four thousand just prior to the Glasgow NE by-election. Neither was he afraid to question where Willie Bain paid his council tax. These were matters he thought were of importance to the campaign and which, as a citizen of Glasgow, he obviously felt needed to be aired. If, as it alleged by a commenter on Blether with Brian, that Willie Bain paid his council tax in London, then his claim that he lived in Glasgow was false.

Bruce Newlands, one of Scotland's brightest and innovative young architects, apparently submitted his resignation from his teaching post because he felt it honourable after realising that the university could become embroiled in a media spat and after being told by his part-time employer that he would be investigated because journalists alleged he used inappropriate language in front of students, something which Bruce himself described as "spurious" in his last post.

Not only is he a loss to the case for Scottish independence but a potential loss to the students of architecture whom he taught.

Although I've never met Bruce I know some who have had the pleasure and I disagree with his decision.

I am not a member of the SNP and neither was Bruce, although both of us support the SNP's principle policy of independence. He contributed towards that cause and was passionate. That is something which is missing in so many blogs - passionate opinion.

An MSM conspiracy? No. Journalists don't trawl small blogs looking for the odd derogatory word or comment about politicians - Bruce had even fewer visitors than me. There are plenty UK political blogs where journalists could find crude language to describe politicians. It's my belief that the MSM were tipped off possibly by someone who thinks the term 'cybernats' is amusing.

My posts will continue to call Gordon Brown a thief because his policies have eaten a large chunk out of my pension, plus reduced the final payments of my endowment policies by well into a five figure sum. I will also continue to call Bob Ainsworth incompetent and useless. If he wasn't he would be apologising to the 9000 troops who are stuck out in the hell of Afghanistan without any strategy other than to do their utmost to protect each other from being killed. They now have to wait until the end of January for Gordon Brown to get together with his mates and discuss their future. Meanwhile they shall spend Christmas in conditions which few of us could tolerate for 24 hours.

Personalities do come into politics and to believe otherwise is to deceive yourself. Politicians sell their personalities along with their policies, particularly in today's 'image is all' society. My readers know I prefer curses or obscenities to be masked if they are necessary.

I will continue to write my opinions and although I may not agree with those of others, I defend their right to voice them.


Quiet_Man said...

Jeez, I wonder what they'll make of Chris Mounsey the recently elected LPUK party leader?

He's better known as the Devil from Devils Kitchen as well as a swearblogger. Bruce Newlands story just goes to show how low the MSM will stoop to attack someone who criticises the cosy political setup in the UK.

subrosa said...

I didn't know the identity of DK QM but I did read about the new LPUK party leader.

One of the highest ranking UK political bloggers too is DK. He can count himself lucky he wasn't based in Scotland and pro-independence.

David Farrer said...


He was based here in Edinburgh until a few years ago. We've enjoyed a few pints together...

DK is pro UK independence, which is probably just as threatening to the powers that be.

subrosa said...

Ah thanks for that David. I'm trying to play the video at the link QM has given me but the streaming isn't good.

DK helped me once with a Mac problem and offered further help. I've found many of his articles most informative.

subrosa said...

Come to think of it David, isn't DK a designer of some sort? Just as well he left Edinburgh. He'd have been in the Scottish press long before now.

Sue said...

I know what I'd call Gordon Brown, cos it suits him, but you don't like that word :)

Dick Puddlecote said...

Chaucer used the word, albeit spelled differently, in the Canterbury Tales.

They used to teach kids that in schools, doncha know. Seems so very long ago now.

J. R. Tomlin said...

Well, you know my opinion. If we are so inclined we have EVERY right to call politicians and journalists bad names.

One of our US presidents said it well: If you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen.

cynicalHighlander said...

Have a look at "The Ranting Penguin" that word is far more common than troughing MPs.

Allan said...

Good post, and just because the commentariat (guido's phrase he trotts out from time to time to describe commentators & columnists from newspapers) are anti-bloggoshere shouldn't mean that we should fear giving our opinions.

However, i suspect that the current witch-hunt against Pro-SNP bloggers maybe has its roots in the Glasgow SE By-Election.

Richard Lucas said...

On one level, Jeanne, I agree with you - Voltaire and all that - 'Monsieur l'abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.'

On the other hand, if you have a well-founded point to make, you don't need to use upsetting language to put it - in fact, I think that the gratuitous use of such language demeans both writer and reader.

In summary 'Monsieur l'abbé, say what you like, but aim to be articulate rather offensive.'

subrosa said...

Auch Sue, you can call me a fuddy duddy if you like you know. :)

CrazyDaisy said...


As you know I am a fan of Wardog, scum MSM taking delight in making news out of a small piece of profanity - when Skull Murphy was acting in the most dishonourable manner. I've yet to see a Labour politician to act with any decency...

That said I have it on good authority during my trip into "The Smoke" last week that Ministers will not be undertaking foreign trips from March 2010 which should save us a coupe of quid.


Great word veri "hoono" - must be Murphy it's refering to!

Richard Lucas said...

Or 'rather than offensive' as I meant to say.

The old advice about not picking fights with people who ink by the barrel is probably a point our fallen heroes failed to consider fully. When they exercise their right to free speech, they do so with rather larger calibre weaponry.

subrosa said...

There's a great deal that seems so very long ago now Dick.

subrosa said...

What I don't understand Jeanne is why people immediately apply one meaning to the word. I've done my best to explain and prove there are other meanings, but others will ignore that.

Ah but Jeanne, some of our politicians think they're above offensive comments although they offend us in their own way day by day.

Where's the promised referendum on the Lisbon Treaty? When are the pensioners who had their 10p tax rate withdrawn going to see it returned?

Auch the list would take me a week.

subrosa said...

Aye CH, it's fairly well used in the blogosphere. The Scottish blogosphere is small and easy meat for journalists.

subrosa said...

Could well be Allan, yes, could well be.

subrosa said...

I don't have to read blogs which use swear words Richard, I can avoid them. To destroy someone career because of one word is more than shameful, but it has let me see how determined the unionists are to be rid of critics, especially those who dig a little too deep.

MekQuarrie said...

I was instantly not surprised by the timing of the 'Cheese' story. Read it carefully and it could (indeed should) have broken at any time in the past six months. But this has been someone's (very carefully played) ace-in-the-hole and reveals a disturbing thread in the control of social media (i.e. grassroots news-commentary). Where will it end..? [No comment.]

Richard Lucas said...

I've been busy conflating 'The Lord of the Rings' and Hans Christian Anderson to illustrate a point.

Imagine the scene:

Saruman Murphy has received his latest instructions from the Mordor that is Westminster. He arrays himself in what he is convinced are the finest of Nulab policies and processes along the Royal Mile to pass on the instructions to Wormtongue Grey at Hollyrood. He is convinced that his policies are fine and wondrous to behold, but onlookers can see that he is naked.

Now, the little boy in the crowd decides to pipe up. Two thoughts pass through his mind. Does he shout 'Look at that stupid ******* ****, or does he say 'Look, the Secretary of State has no clothes'? Which is the more accurate, the more deflating, and the most likely to stick in the mind?

subrosa said...

Yes Richard and in Bruce's case he reacted by blogging his response to the said journalist as he was shocked by their intrusion into his life.

I would think he regrets doing that, but it shouldn't be forgotten he was a person who tried very hard to bring all political persuasions together to discuss Scotland's future. He wasn't a blogger who refused to include others of any persuasion.

On occasion I post on some English blogs as a guest. It's important to me and to the blog owners who invited me, that the political scene in Scotland in more understood by the English. I do my best to convey happenings, although from an independence stance, with fairness.

subrosa said...

It does indeed Mek. I didn't read 'Cheese' often because some people mentioned meant nothing to me.

Where will it end? I'm sure you have an good idea. ;)

subrosa said...

Of course the latter Richard. I have a friend who does the best put-downs in the world yet she never swears. I suppose that's a generation thing because nowadays so many accept swearing as a part of daily speech.

But I stick by Bruce Newland's comment that Jim Murphy shoved other colleagues out of the way to get to the front (at the Queen's Speech). In fact I was so taken aback by his behaviour I mentioned it in a blog post just a few hours later. Very unseemly behaviour from a senior politician, especially one who understands and manipulates the media so well.

Anonymous said...

Good and fair post Subrosa.

Like you, I don’t like the use of that word. It’s just an ugly word. But I defend people’s right to use it when they want. We’re in the 21st century, I think we should all be above being offended by a word. Cybernats, I guess that’s offensive too, but it’s used in parliament by the wee bloke that speaks for Labour on something.

I doubt it is some kind of conspiracy by the Scottish Press. I don’t think they like us. They’ve had things their own way for a long time trotting out drivel. Now, with the Net we have a voice, and maybe it’s part of the reason that the SNP has done so well in elections. For the first time there is an SNP voice around Scotland. No, the failing Johnson Press and the Herald don’t like that at all.

But it doesn’t do us or the cause any good if we abuse the power the Net has given us, and some would say there’s a fair amount of that going on.

I feel sympathy for Wardog and Monty. But they were both intelligent people. They must have known that there was a risk in insulting the Press; Monty, in particular, as an employee of the party.

We must not be cowed by this. But when you have an opposition out there looking for every stick there is to beat you, you have to be smart. You have to remember how dirty they play and never leave your back unguarded.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. I’m grateful to Mr Peter Mandleson for teaching me the word “chump”. I have found it most useful.

McGonagall said...

Our politicians have become very precious of late when they are offended by some words on obscure blogs read by only a handful of people. I read many blogs where the banter is the same as you'd get in any pub - a guid slaggin aff ae politicians using colourful and earthy language.

The response of the MSM - setting themselves up as moral arbiters of what is acceptable - has already had a noticeable chilling effect.

Bloggers are not journalists and blogs are not national broadsheets. It's just folks having a conversation and a laugh at the expense of those who seek to have power over us. When that is disallowed we are really in trouble.

voterinscotland said...

Alas it has had the effect to make some bloggers restrict their sites to 'invite only' such as Moridura. I always enjoyed reading his site which (including yourself) is one of the better reads on the internet.

subrosa said...

Jings Tris, I'd forgotten about that very English word 'chump'. I used to have a pal who used it all the time.

subrosa said...

It appears to be disallowed scunnert. Only the chosen few will be left in peace and that's because they don't ask searching questions or rock the boat.

subrosa said...

Strange you should say that voter, I tried Moridura earlier and thought it was just a blogger blip.

I must enquire further because I like his articles.

Richard Lucas said...

scunnert said...

The response of the MSM - setting themselves up as moral arbiters of what is acceptable - has already had a noticeable chilling effect.

It has, and I am saddened by Moridura's response to it.

But, I don't think the MSM have set themselves up as moral arbiters - in fact it would be laughable if they did. What we are seeing is a power elite - Scottish Labour and its media pals, uniting to squeeze out opportunities for criticism. Not quite the Stasi yet - but along that continuum.

I read in blogs constantly of this elite's stunts - worries about ballot-rigging, misrepresentations, outright lies, etc. Why would we expect it not to act against dissent when they can? What is the point of all their media coaching, PR, and all the rest of it if they allow people to snipe at them without response.

The Establishment didn't become the Establishment by fighting fair. Don't expect it to start doing so now.

subrosa said...

Good comment Richard. Pity they accuse others of lying when they have no proof and they know full well that one person can't fight against their big machine.

Yes sadly the Stasi system is underway. Some UK bloggers have been saying that for sometime but I'm hoping more will be aware of what has happened in Scotland - a small country and therefore a much easier target.

subrosa said...

Ooops didn't thank you for the link Richard. Interesting one.

Alan Smart said...

Lesson 1 " if you call someone a "c***", dont be outraged or surprised if they act like one

Lesson 2: Dont

Question: If this is a concerted attack on dissent why have we not all been shut down?

subrosa said...

Answer: I doubt if even Blogger would accept a call for a bulk closedown of blogs AWC.

I may well be wrong, but the people involved removed their blogs voluntarily. They were not closed down as far as I can see.

Richard Lucas said...

subrosa said...

Ooops didn't thank you for the link Richard. Interesting one.

Here's another:

subrosa said...

Thanks Richard. How things have changed since my studying days. 'Power elite' would never have had a place in an encyclopedia, but it's certainly an appropriate description in today's world.

Clarinda said...

McC**thyism - a sinister and politically motivated contrivance of exploiting the impassioned use of an expletive to willfully deny freedom of expression.

subrosa said...

Good morning Clarinda. What else can I say?

Clarinda said...

Well Subrosa, I expect 'Nats under the mats' any time now!

subrosa said...

I'm afraid Clarinda it's too late in the day for anyone to intimidate me. All this covert behaviour from those connected with this fiasco is I suppose what's called politics but it's not the kind of behaviour I want to see from my political representatives. The media will always make a story because that's their job. I just wish they'd make more of the 9000 soldiers existing in the hell-hole of Afghanistan because we have a PM who is too spineless to make his own decisions and is happy to sacrifice good lives.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Rosie, as you are aware I use swear words liberally on my blog, however I hope they're not used out of context. :-)

Dramfineday said...

What's this SR, the first wiff of gunpowder and the bloggers scatter? It's only just begun with today's announcement regarding the referendum

I've said it before and I'll say it again there is no need for foul abuse when facts are cheils that dinnae ding. Better to confront your political enemy with their words and deeds and play it back to them. Mind you, satire is good to deflate them as well.

Meantime I'm glad to see you are made of the right stuff and I'll continue to chip in, if you don't mind.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Dramfineday. Who's scattering? To take your advice, BRING IT ON!

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Who or what is MSM?

I am sure Wardog will rise phoenix like in another guise when and if it suits him.

What isn't forgiveable is the issue being brought to the attention of any third party who are not directly involved.

The excuse that he could be corrupting his students with such vulgarity is banal. And what the offending word lacked in finesse it was, with one exception, precision in its accuracy. (The exception being it should have been pluralised to cover all the politicians in the picture)

But having said all that I wouldn't get paranoid over the issue. Otherwise we might all end up as twitchy as the establishment.

Stuart Winton said...

Subrosa, the term CyberNat is a bit unfortunate because prima facie it seems to encompass all strands of nationalist opinion expressed in an online enviroment, whereas what I use it to mean is the more undesirable element of that genre such as Mark MacLachan in his Montague Burton persona and the more abusive and threatening element on the Scotsman boards, for example, together with some of the blogs - although only a handful in the latter case. Also, there's no clear dividing line between this element and the more reasonable Nationalist opinion, so to that extent it's all a bit vague.

And different people seem to see the term to mean different things, thus further confusing things.

As for calling GB a thief, I too have suffered significant financial detriment due the decisions of politicians, but I think the word thief is too strong a word to use to describe this, particulary when it's used directly in relation to an individual.

By the same token, I rarely use the word liar - and I doubt if it appears at all on my blog - because to me it's a strong word and to be used sparingly.

I don't think people generally like strong words like those unless it's a clear cut case, and not just because someone has spun something a bit, failed to mention something important or suchlike; otherwise that would make us all liars!!

Which links also to the first issue I mentioned above - the use of extreme language and profanities is perhaps considered a bit cybernatish ;0)

subrosa said...

No DL they're not used out of context, out of frustration more I think.

subrosa said...

I'm not scattering Dram, I have no reason to scatter. Need to be less at the computer screen for a while though to give my eyes a rest but you possibly won't notice the difference. :)

Please do continue to chip in - I need you to keep me on my toes.

subrosa said...

Crinkly, MSM is Main Stream Media, such as newspapers, broadcasters et al.

I'm not getting paranoid Crinkly I don't think. Wardog's demise was a carefully orchestrated series of events quite unfairly, in my view, thrown at someone who was an easy target.

As you say the inclusion of involving a third party was inexcusable and I felt he needed a little defending. He contributed much to the independence scene - something few will admit. Then some sit on the fence because they have no strong views - their choice.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

MSM surely that's a misnomer.

Shouldn't a more accurate acronym be compiled from tame or tick box, lame brain, state stream - I almost included Westminster, until I realised that could be ambiguous as to who controlled who?

The paranoid comment wasn't aimed at you, but to the bloggers who intend or have chosen to retire from the fray.

Blogging is time consuming, often thankless, always profitless and you're right about the frustration. But it's a whole lot more civilised than resorting to either the bullet or the lash.

Perhaps the censors would prefer the latter?

subrosa said...

It starts off as an offensive word Stuart and I still find it so.

Part of my pension and endowments were stolen Stuart. I cannot afford the holidays I'd planned and thought I'd safely saved for over many years or many other activities which I now find I can't afford. I wis robbed!!

Who is responsible for stealing my money which I spent many years carefully investing if not Gordon Brown whose policy changes caused my loss? Isn't he responsible?

Someone has to be the thief and no I don't think the word in that context is too strong. If I took something from someone without their knowledge or understanding, I too would be a thief.

Liar is also a strong word I agree and I too use it sparingly, but I use it when I see fit.

You know I read English blogs I should think. Have you ever read any? Some of the top rated ones even? Profanities abound in many but the word cybernat doesn't exist even in the pro-English parliament blogs.

subrosa said...

It wouldn't surprise me in the last if they preferred us to take to the streets rather than blog Crinkly. They've done their best to prepare our police service for such action haven't they? Fully in the knowledge that there are still some of the population who haven't quite been brainwashed and subdued.

Anonymous said...

I don't care for the word cybernat, but it's not the end of my world if someone, even whathisname uses it.

I have to say that there were as many offensive Labour posters on the Scotsman the last time I was there, although I admit that was some time ago.

Either Gordon Brown is incredibly, monumentally stupid, or he is a thief. He taxed one of the best pensions set ups in the world almost to extinction
and people have been left with, in some cases a fraction of what they expected to have in their old age.

(However, it's OK because he won't go short, nor will any of his colleages. They made sure of that by boosting their own pensions at our expense.)

So either he knew what he was doing and he stole from people's pensions, or he hadn't the foggiest notion of finance and he cocked the whole thing up monumentally, ruining millions of people's lives in the process.

If I had had been the Finance Secretary, I think I'd prefer to be called a thief than an incompetent 'chump'.

As for calling people liars... hey, when they lie I don't have a problem with it.

Let's not get all meally mouthed on the blogs because of what has happened in the last few weeks.

Some people are liars. Blair for example.

Some people are thiefs. Brown for example.

Maybe I'm getting too daring. I noticed I have lost followers in teh last few days.

subrosa said...

Thank you Tris for your support. Don't worry about losing followers it happens all the time. Others will come along. I lose track of mine but I do appreciate each and every one of them.

No you're not too daring. For goodness sake don't lose your challenging attitude. If everyone mouthed the various parties' sermons nothing would ever change.

CrazyDaisy said...


Nice piece on Nick Robinson's Blog - guess what the EBC pulled the plug after 1 hr and 20 posts - now you can't access it from the link on the EBC.

Biased EBC - glad I don't pay the fee, never have and never will.

Saor ALba


subrosa said...

It's still available if you google 'nick robinson's blog' CD. Bit of a dirty trick pulling the link from the main page though not a surprise.

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