The Daily Mail continues its attacks on the evil cybernats, and is still valiantly trying to make out that online abuse is the sole preserve of independence supporters. Today they had an interview with Kezia Dugdale MSP, former aide to George Foulkes who used the ID Fifi Le Bonbon when she was a cyberbritbrat and an active and enthusiastic participant in the zoo that passes for the comments section of the Scotsman newspaper.
Kezia was pictured in the Mail an unflattering photo which made her look like a refugee from the former East Germany who had narrowly escaped the Stasi. She was upset that she had ‘recently’ been the recipient of an offensive tweet, although it turned out the tweet was sent over a year ago. The tweet wasn’t helpful to the independence cause and was crass and stupid, but it was not a direct threat – the tweet read “dancing on the head of a pin? I wish Kezia Dugdale would dance on the head of a bayonet”.
It was in fact eerily similar to a phrase uttered by Kezia’s party colleague, the fragrant Ian Davidson MP, who spoke a few months ago about “bayonetting the wounded” after a no victory had been secured in September’s referendum. Kezia was schtum on Ian’s comment, possibly because she was concerned he might threaten her with a metaphorical doin’, just as he’d previously threatened SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford.
Of course Kezia and the Mail ignore the abuse coming from Unionists directed against independence supporters. Kezia’s quite happy to associate herself with the Mail’s demonisation tactics when it suits her political ends. The aim of the Mail’s campaign is obvious, to portray the independence campaign as something which ‘normal’ people would not want to associate with, although it remains unclear in which universe Labour politicians are normal people. Independence supporters are ‘other’, as dangerous as the Mail’s usual targets – like benefits claiming gay disabled immigrants who cause cancer.
It’s a peculiar tactic. Demonising a minority can only be effective when few people are acquainted with members of the said minority and so are prepared to accept the definitions provided by the tabloid press instead of the evidence of their own eyes and ears. Supporters of independence are not like gay people – who represent just 5 to 10% of the population, or migrants, who account for a similar percentage. These groups could be successfully demonised by the tabloids since a large proportion of their readership did not know any gay people or any migrants.
The so called cybernat is merely an independence supporter with an internet connection, but independence supporters represent a very substantial chunk of the population, and a huge majority have an internet connection. These hundreds of thousands know that there is no cybernat conspiracy, so do their friends and families. Instead of silencing the ‘cybernat’, the Mail’s campaign has given the online independence campaign a major boost.
Meanwhile a young supporter of independence has been subject to serial abuse on Twitter for daring to speak in favour of independence during a recent edition of Question Time. 17 year old Liam McLaughlan from Easterhouse also said during the programme that Tony Blair should be arrested for war crimes – a point of view shared by a great many.
Liam McLaughlan is the son of friends of mine. Way back in the 80s his father was the first of my straight friends that I told that I was gay. (He’d already worked it out. Liam’s dad is as perceptive as his son.) Liam has written his own story, published in The Targe. It’s well worth a read.
We’re constantly told by the likes of Kezia Dugdale that politicians need to do more to engage young people with politics. Here’s a young man who is actively engaged in politics, and who is articulate, intelligent and passionate. He has done well at school and expects to go to university. He doesn’t just sit about complaining, or taking drugs and getting drunk, he gets up off his arse and tries to do something to improve his local area, an area which has been betrayed and let down by generations of Labour politicians.
Liam is precisely the kind of young person that Scotland needs. Yet for his pains he was subject to a campaign of vilification on Twitter by supporters of the party which claims to speak for the people of places like Easterhouse. He was called a ned, told that he needed a translator as his Glasgow accent made him unintelligible, insulted for what he was wearing, told he was deformed and that he was mentally ill. That was a particularly harsh insult as a close family member of Liam’s suffered serious mental illness for many years.
The abuse came from unionist supporters of the Labour party, the same party that for the past 3 generations or more has presided over the compendium of multiple social deprivation that is Easterhouse. But from the Daily Mail or Kezia Dugdale, not a word.
Kezia Dugdale and the Daily Mail have no solutions for the problems that Liam highlights. They have nothing to offer him, except that if he does well at school and goes to university he might be able to move away to find a decent job down south. That’s what happened to me, I had to leave Scotland to seek work in London where I lived for the best part of a decade before moving to Spain. I only returned to Scotland last year. Scotland must be the only country in the world when the emigration of our youth is described as a benefit of the Union.
The Daily Mail and Kezia Dugdale want to keep it that way, and have the nerve to make out that they are the victims, not those who suffer the ill effects of the politics they espouse. We’ll hear many more howls of protest from the Britbrats over the coming months. It’s the complaint of the privileged that their privileges are about to be revoked. After 18 September they’ll be sitting on the naughty step without their toys. No wonder they’re greeting like weans.
In the interests of fairness, it should be pointed out that Kezia Dugdale denies that she was Fifi le Bonbon.