sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul

Wings Over Scotland


This is our hypocrisy meter

Posted on April 29, 2012 by

When we started a political blog, we invested in the best equipment money could buy, because we knew we’d need to guard against double standards ourselves as well as measuring it in others. The Super HypocrisOMeter 5000 is an industrial-strength device, built to cope with the most extreme manifestations of a trait that is the stock-in-trade of all politicians. But this morning we switched it on and tried to run Labour’s reaction to a story in today’s Express through it, and look what happened:


Let’s be clear. We’re not especially fussed about the comments themselves. We’ve figuratively wished a few people dead in our time, and as we’ve recently noted, at the end of the day it’s just words on the internet. We’re deeply dismayed at the growing phenomenon where people can be prosecuted, fired from their job, or even threatened with prison just for saying unpleasant stuff that plainly isn’t meant in any threatening sense. Salmond Senior’s own admirable response strikes the perfect note of disdain.

We’re not even going to attempt to whip up any outrage about the fact that the Labour member in question chose to attack Alex Salmond’s 90-year-old father rather than the First Minister himself – that’s pathetic and despicable, rather than hypocritical. Nope, the thing that catastrophically overloaded the triple-locked shielding and emergency cutout protection of the Super HypocrisOMeter 5000 was Labour’s astonishing attempt to half-heartedly distance the party from the comments. As well as blithely and shamefully trying to insist that Mr Kelly’s views reflected a “substantive issue”, Labour’s unnamed spokesman offered the following high-handed dismissal:

“This desperate smear campaign falls at the first hurdle because this Facebook page is not owned, managed, or operated by Scottish Labour, and it will not detract from the rantings and ravings of SNP candidates – sacked or otherwise – online.

“Political parties are responsible for their candidates and officials, but members of the public must be responsible for their own behaviour.”

Those readers whose minds haven’t just boggled all the way into unconsciousness will very likely be struggling to reconcile this statement with Labour’s previous views on online extremism, at least when it’s practiced by the infamous “cybernats“:

Mr Gray made a strongly worded attack on what he calls ‘vile cybernats’ during his final Scottish Labour conference speech. And today Mr Gray writes in The Scotsman that he has discovered ‘at least one post suggesting that a particular journalist should be shot’.

Mr Gray also accused the SNP leadership of a “tolerance of this culture”. He also said that all voters ‘should be worried’ by internet postings from some SNP supporters, who he says are ‘poisoning the vital debate we now face’ on Scotland’s future. There is also a claim from Mr Gray, who stands down as leader on 17 December, that the SNP internet posters are ‘undermining the decency of the country’.

Iain Gray has, of course, been far from alone among senior Labour figures in insisting that the “cybernats” – a disparate group of largely-anonymous individuals, of whom all, some or none might actually be SNP members – operate under the explicit instruction and control of the SNP leadership:

Labour’s Anas Sarwar said: “Everyone knows that Alex Salmond desperately wants a second question on the ballot and now he has left the door open for his army of cybernats to deliver the response he wants.”

Ever since 2011, Labour and its tame media have ramped up the angle that the SNP leadership must “do something about the cybernats“. Prominent features are headlined with pious pleas or strident demands for the SNP to condemn their nefarious activities, even as elected Labour MPs, MSPs and councillors (rather than random internet users) freely compare Alex Salmond to Hitler, Robert Mugabe or Slobodan Milosevic or call SNP politicians and members ‘traitors” without the hysterical press opprobrium which accompanies “cybernats” doing the same thing.

The Facebook group on which Alex Salmond’s father was wished dead was not an open group populated by any old internet loonies who wandered along. It’s closed to the public and the controlled, vetted membership of 533 includes the Scottish party’s foremost and finest – as well as current “leader” Johann Lamont and her “deputy” Anas Sarwar along with Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran, former First Minister Jack McConnell, MPs Cathy Jamieson, Ian Davidson, Eric Joyce, Sarah Boyack, Tom Harris, Tom Greatrex and Tom Watson, and front-bench MSPs Jackie Baillie, Ken Macintosh and James Kelly, are all members.

(Most of the prominent online Labour activists whose names our readers will recognise also belong to the group, including John Ruddy, Aidan Skinner, Duncan Hothersall and Cllr Alex “Braveheart” Gallagher. Only the lovely Terry Kelly is unaccountably missing.)

We don’t think it’s dreadfully unreasonable to suggest that with a membership list like that, Scottish Labour has a lot more control and responsibility over what’s posted on the group than the SNP does over random anonymous Twitter users or comment-thread posters. In a world where suggesting that certain actions of rival politicians might be “anti-Scottish” generates hundreds of column inches and loud demands for resignation, we look forward to the blanket media coverage demanding that the leadership takes urgent action against this vile cyberBrit menace nestling in the very bosom of Scottish Labour. We’re certain it’ll be along any minute now.

Be Sociable, Share!

28 to “This is our hypocrisy meter”

  1. Juteman says:

    I’m surprised it hasn’t been suggested that a nasty cybernat must have done it and ran away.
     

      

  2. Clawd Baws says:

    I was also reminded of Iain Gray’s speech, which is a shame really because it’s set me off on one.  It tends to stick in the mind because it was so mind-bogglingly awful that I had and still have trouble believing he’d been stupid enough to make it.  He actually chose a pathetic whinge as his swansong as leader. I can’t begin to imagine the thought processes he must have gone through to decide that was a good idea.  He walked the killing fields but couldn’t take the killer comments from the public. And what was that reference to having his sexuality questioned? Eh? What an FM he would have made: we’ve all had a lucky escape with that one I reckon.
    And it doesn’t get any better.  Scottish Labour’s new leader doesn’t know if she’s up to the task of being FM if Scotland gets more devolved powers….Who are these people?

    Scotland’s electorate has moved on and left slavour behind.  All they have is their faux outrage about nasty cybernats thinly disguising the fact they’ve no ideas and don’t know who they are any more.  The other problem of course is that they have never come to terms with the SNP’s success.  The sooner they go the way of the Tories the better…

      

  3. MajorBloodnok says:

    Thanks for the link to the Express article.  I found its tone very interesting and certainly very dismissive of Labour.  I really laughed out loud at Robert Salmond’s response – I can see where Alex gets it from!
     
    The closed Facebook group and the hypocrisy displayed in response to this stupid comment seems to be more evidence for Sneakyboy’s theses regarding Labour’s ‘group-think’.  Anyway, good to see the Express running with the story and sticking the boot into Labour.

      

  4. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    I wonder if all the media who covered Tommy Ball’s “child killer” comments – the closest analogy, since Mr Ball was also an ordinary party member rather than a candidate, MP or councillor – will be so quick to pick up on it? That would include the Express – so hats off to them for fair play on this one – but also the Herald, Record and Telegraph, with the Scotsman also covering it in passing. Watching keenly for their stories.

     

      

  5. UkFacepalm says:

    H/T to @harper_f “If only this Glasgow Labour supporter could show some tolerance to others http://bit.ly/JAG7Uy http://bit.ly/IV1DIu

    Seems emblematic of so many in the Scots Labour media world. This one is on message on his Glasgow Labour blog. But decidely and utterly bizarrely off message on race, ethnicity and culture in his private blogs. Its a free country etc and they are indeed only words on the internet. But its hard to reconcile the personal views of people like these, with their membership of a once egalatarian party. Its either doublethink or complete lack of political self-awareness. God only knows what happens in the space between their ears…

      

  6. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Neither of those links are working atm. What’s in them?

      

  7. Pete says:

    A frankly pathetic Labour activist named Ali Syme calling George Galloway “a Jew-hating dictator-loving prick”, and calling the Scots “retarded piles of bigotry and bile” (the irony of which is undoubtedly lost on such a feeble specimen of humanity as him). Just your usual Labour Party politicking, really. 

      

  8. UkFacepalm says:

    They’re 2 piccys of various screenshots from a GlasgowNW Labour party blogger called AliSyme.
    http://oi41.tinypic.com/11iq2at.jpg That first one goes on about Scots being ‘retarded bigots’, their ‘shite saltire’, fat bastard (Salmond) etc  Has a bizarre pop at Gaelic too. The tragic aspect is that Mr Syme is a prime mover for a donor-seeking campaign website called ‘No To Scottish Independence’ (currently pulled or dead)
    Theres a URL to follow to one of his own blog pieces tinyurl.com/scots-retarded

    http://oi44.tinypic.com/12345k5.jpg Second one had a go at Bradford muslim voters (not just Galloway) calling them “jew-hating dicator-loving pricks”. And Labour wonder why they’re moribund in that city ?

    OK all his “Personal views ” etc but seems hard to reconcile with the views of the Labour party. Agree with Pete above, seems like an example of the default standard of debate and intellect amongst some in that broken party .. a crushing lack of reasoning, empathy or understanding.

      

  9. Angus McLellan says:

    (Is it just me or has the link function in the toolbar gone greyed-out? Edit & preview reported missing too.)

    Bad day all round for meters chez vous then because SoS’s weekly scare story – http://www.scotsman.com/scotland-on-sunday/politics/independent-scotland-a-terror-risk-1-2263860 (LABOUR MSP SAYS TERRORISTS WILL KILL US ALL!) – probably did for your frightometer. I can’t say I’m an expert on terrorism and policing, but other small countries seem to survive well enough and spend less money doing so. 

    What with intelligence being secret, there’s less information out there than there is for defence or health. But it’s no secret that the UK is a big spender on spying. Not up there with the US, but probably 2nd among “free” countries. The Single Intelligence Account covers MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. The annual report – http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/sites/default/files/resources/isc-annualreport1011.pdf – isn’t the most exciting document ever, but it tells us that the UK plans to spend around about £2.1 billion on intelligence, of which about £1950 million on the three intelligence services and around £150 million on “cybersecurity”. Such of that as is spent in the UK is nearly all spent in southern England (London, Cheltenham, etc).

    The intelligence apparatus represents yet another Union anti-Dividend, with a very large number of well-paid jobs. GCHQ, for example, employ over 5,000 people at an average cost of £45K. Some of those jobs – largely ones to do with communications and computing security rather than eavesdropping – would exist somewhere in an independent Scotland. And remember, using GERS logic we are already paying for them. So that would be an instant gain of couple of hundred jobs, many for skilled language, maths, electronics and computing graduates. (As a sanity check, New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Branch employs 330 people, see http://www.gcsb.govt.nz/about-us/organisation.html for background.)

    MI5 has around 3,800 staff and MI6 around 2,400, both of which are expected to increase perhaps to as many as 6,500 in total. It’s unlikely that a small country minding its own business would need quite as many spies as GERS’ divide-by-12 logic would suggest. New Zealand’s NZ SIS and NAB, which cover most of the functions of MI5 and MI6, have around 250 staff. But again, we’re paying for the 500+ jobs GERS logic produces, nearly all of which are furth of Scotland today, whereas we probably need far fewer people and those people would be based here. 

    So, today we “spend” around £175 million, producing approximately zero jobs in Scotland. (And, if we’re cynical about it, probably not doing much for our security either as it’s unlikely that MI5 bother much about Scotland.) If we were independent we’d spend less, have something over 500 relatively well-paid jobs extra here and probably be more secure. Running an intelligence service isn’t rocket science – unless it’s GCHQ – and it doesn’t require any mystic knowledge. It isn’t even very expensive as we could guess that the cost of running intelligence services would be around 0.1% of GDP. All things considered, I’ve seen better scare stories.

      

  10. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    The fantastic thing about the “VOTE FOR INDEPENDENCE AND AL-QAEDA WILL BOMB YOUR CHILDREN!!!” story was that the impartial defence-expert source was… a Labour MSP.

      

  11. Thee Forsaken One says:

    Labour must be terrified, either that or some sort of madness has infected them. They were bad before, but the past couple of weeks they’ve been borderline hysterical with their attacks and attitudes. It cost them badly in 2011 and I don’t see it working out well for them this Thursday either.

      

  12. MajorBloodnok says:

    As long as they don’t learn from their mistakes (and I think they won’t/can’t) then they are fated to reap the harvest they so richly deserve.  My heart bleeds.

      

  13. Doug Daniel says:

    Yeah, you can definitely tell there’s an election going on, because the level of “debate” from Labour is reaching new depths.

    You see the standard of people like Ali Syme up there, who is clearly a moron, and I just can’t help coming to the conclusion that people who support independence are generally more intelligent. Supporting the union and being a reactionary idiot seem to go hand in hand.

      

  14. Dál Riata says:

    I left a comment on another site regarding Severin Carrell’s and the Guardian’s continuing “Obsession” with the NI emails and how he had turned the news that Jack McConnell and his family had allegedly had their phones hacked by the News of the World into yet another smear-fest against Alex Salmond.
     
    Now, having had a wee bit more time to think about all this, I’d like to put forward a few questions.
     
    Why now?: Why was the news of the NI emails containing contacts made with Alex Salmond released at this time? Yes, I know the subject matter was obtained at the Leveson Inquiry, yet….
     
    Why now?: Why is news that Jack McConnell and his family allegedly had their phones hacked by the News of the World being released now? (with the result that the MSM goes ballistic in trying to attach blame to the Scottish Government and Alex Salmond!)
     
    Here we have the Daily Record (Mon. 30th April ) state the following:
    “Our sister paper, the Sunday Mail, revealed yesterday that Strathclyde Police told McConnell weeks ago …”

     
    So, if this was revealed to McConnell “weeks ago” (How many?):
     
    Why was it not released to the MSM until the weekend?
     
    Was this something that was not seen as being ‘newsworthy’ at that time?
     
    Who released this ‘news’ to the MSM?
     
    Was it released to one member of the MSM (Who?) or was it a general press release? (The main story in every MSM is almost identical)
     
    Could it be alleged that the MSM suppressed the news intentionally so as to release it just before the Council Elections on May 3rd? If that is not the case, then why was that news not made public when it was “told” “weeks ago”? If it is the case, surely that’s as big a story in its dishonesty as the alleged phone hacking against McConnell, as disgraceful as that is.
     
    Now, I’m not one to go in for conspiracy theories or paranoic rhetoric, but with the way the MSM is behaving in the present-UK and the future of the Union ‘at stake’ and with all that entails for those who profit from it the most I believe that nothing is ‘off the table’, so to speak.
     
    If someone can come back to me on this and tell me:
    How it is all just a coincidence (and show that it is) that these events have surfaced so close to an election (one which the SNP is predicted to very well in) giving the MSM, especially in Scotland, the chance to go into hyperdrive in its hysterical reaction to this ‘latest’ news by smearing Alex Salmond and his party …
    …then I will take heed and tell myself not to be so cynical.
     
    (The hypocrisy of the MSM is quite something, of course. They will be well aware that GCHQ listens in on every call made by politicians (and others ‘of note’) and is able to ‘read’ all websites and every email sent. And, if this is not actually done in ‘real time’ it is all still downloaded to be ‘researched’ at another time. But … Shh! Don’t tell anybody about this. It’s a secret!)
     

      

  15. Dál Riata says:

    Got this from @Fungus over on NNS …

    http://www.strath.ac.uk/moodofthenation/

    See if you too can be an “optimist”!

      

  16. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Couldn’t manage optimism, but then I was answering the questions as a resident of England with no political party to vote for…

      

  17. MajorBloodnok says:

    It is absolutely clear that the ‘Lord’ McConnell phone hacking thing is not a coincidence – it’s obviously meant to prolong the ‘scandal’ (smears) for as long as possible.  A bit dumb though to keep bashing on with the Murdoch thing when all the other parties are much deeper in the doo-doo than the SNP, particularly when the hacking happened mainly on Labour’s watch. 

    Still, why let the actual facts get in the way of distortion of the truth and manipulation of ‘perception’.  I wonder if Alex Salmond’s phone was hacked (it seems likely to me) – what would the MSM make of that?

      

  18. Here’s what one of the group’s administrators has said about this issue:

    “Regardless of what you may have read in yesterday’s press no such remarks wishing the death of the First Minister’s father were in fact ever made.

    A comment was made, rather foolishly in my opinion, by Mr Kelly wishing that Mr Salmond Snr had “withdrawn” at the moment of Mr Salmond Jnr’s conception.

    This was rather foolhardy, and probably a misguided attempt at humour, but in no way could be misconstrued as wishing ill on Mr Salmond Snr.

    The press however, chose to interpret otherwise, and make a story out of nothing and rouse passions prior to the elections on May 3rd. I am personally sorry that the readers of such nonsense have been inflamed by lazy, misinformed and misguided reporting.

    I would suggest you ask the newspaper in which you read this story to substantiate and provide evidence that the remarks could be construed as anything other than that which I point out above.

    I repeat, no comment wishing the death of Mr Salmond Snr was ever made.

    I sincerely hope that my response to your message clarifies the truth of this matter.”

    So it seems the reason no other newspaper is covering the story is because it simply isn’t true.

    Speaking as a Labour supporter who has very publicly defended SNP people from the sort of Facebook-grubbing non-journalism of which this story is a prime example, I am deeply disappointed by the hypocrisy shown by this blog in publishing this hatchet job.

      

  19. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Speaking as a Labour supporter who has very publicly defended SNP people from the sort of Facebook-grubbing non-journalism of which this story is a prime example, I am deeply disappointed by the hypocrisy shown by this blog in publishing this hatchet job.”

    What we actually said:

    “Let’s be clear. We’re not especially fussed about the comments themselves. We’ve figuratively wished a few people dead in our time, and as we’ve recently noted, at the end of the day it’s just words on the internet. We’re deeply dismayed at the growing phenomenon where people can be prosecuted, fired from their job, or even threatened with prison just for saying unpleasant stuff that plainly isn’t meant in any threatening sense. Salmond Senior’s own admirable response strikes the perfect note of disdain.

    We’re not even going to attempt to whip up any outrage about the fact that the Labour member in question chose to attack Alex Salmond’s 90-year-old father rather than the First Minister himself – that’s pathetic and despicable, rather than hypocritical. Nope, the thing that catastrophically overloaded the triple-locked shielding and emergency cutout protection of the Super HypocrisOMeter 5000 was Labour’s astonishing attempt to half-heartedly distance the party from the comments.”

    So far as this blog is concerned the comments themselves were never the issue – the hypocrisy of Labour’s reaction in claiming not to be responsible for individuals, while constantly asserting that the SNP are responsible for the behaviour of cybernats, was the issue. In the light of the words above, I really don’t know how I could have made that any clearer. The entire piece, from the headline down, was about hypocrisy, not offensiveness.

    (It’s also interesting that the Labour spokesman chose not to mention the explanation you cite – which for the record I’m happy to accept, but of course had no way of being aware of due to the Facebook group’s closed private nature – but instead to frantically disavow all responsibility while attacking the SNP and pitifully trying to claim a valid point was being made. As apologies go it was almost as bad as a Tom Harris one.)

    Oh, and I’ve both tweeted and linked approvingly to your blog piece. I couldn’t agree more with it.

      

  20. Of course, Stuart. By repeating and linking to the story you were in no way reinforcing or promoting it. Oh indeed no.

      

  21. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Oh, and:

    “This was rather foolhardy, and probably a misguided attempt at humour, but in no way could be misconstrued as wishing ill on Mr Salmond Snr. The press however, chose to interpret otherwise”

    So, um, clearly there WAS a way in which it could be misconstrued as such. We have no way of judging for ourselves from the context of the remarks, because of course we can’t see them.

      

  22. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Of course, Stuart. By repeating and linking to the story you were in no way reinforcing or promoting it. Oh indeed no.”

    Be that as it may, it’s not what the story was about, and it’s deeply dishonest of you to suggest otherwise. Regardless of Mr Kelly’s personal guilt or innocence, there is absolutely clearly an issue of hypocrisy in Labour repeatedly demanding the SNP take responsibility for cybernats, but disclaiming any such responsibility when one of its own is accused of unacceptable behaviour.

    It’s a point we’ve been making consistently for months, such as in the highly popular “Alex Salmond Dictator-Comparison Bingo” feature, and we went out of our way to note that we were NOT offended by the comments themselves but by the Labour spokesman’s hypocritical response.

    http://wingsland.podgamer.com/alex-salmond-dictator-comparison-bingo/

    Had Labour come out in the first place and said “That’s not what the comment meant” rather than “WE’RE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR INDIVIDUALS!!!” there’d have been no story here.

      

  23. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Of course, Stuart. By repeating and linking to the story you were in no way reinforcing or promoting it. Oh indeed no.”

    One could, of course, level exactly the same accusation at you over your blog about Lyall Duff. In making a valid and commendable point, you necessarily “promoted” the original story. But it would be dishonest to portray that as your reason for doing so, just as your accusation of the same thing levelled at us is.

    And hey, at least on this blog you’re free to make your case without moderation or censorship.

      

  24. Your piece is a criticism of Labour, mine was a defence of Duff. That is not dishonest, it is fact. Look at the titles. The approach is simply not the same, so please don’t claim equivalence.

      

  25. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Your piece is a criticism of Labour, mine was a defence of Duff”

    Yes, that’s absolutely correct. But you accused it of being a (hypocritical) criticism of some offensive comments by Daniel Kelly, when in fact it was a (perfectly valid) criticism of an unnamed Labour spokesman for a hypocritical response to them. That’s the dishonest part.

      

  26. Morag says:

    What RevStu said.  I couldn’t give a flying one what some idiot chose to say in a closed Facebook group.  The point of the story was that successive Labour spokesmen have attempted to lay all the blame for intemperate and over-the-top comments by independence supporters on the SNP, even (indeed especially) comments made by pseudonymous unknowns in open forums.  They demand that the SNP should control these people, whose identity is unknown and who may well not even be SNP members, and they attempt to use such ill-advised comments to smear the SNP.

    Now we have something of a similar nature being posted in a closed Facebook group which seems to consist entirely of Labour “inner circle” people, and suddenly Labour is not responsible for the comments of private individuals who may not even be party members (in a closed group of Labour insiders, yeah right). No wonder the hypocrisy meter is a heap of trash.

    That was the point of the article, that was clearly the point of the article, get over it.

      

  27. Longshanker says:

    @RevStu
    From the linked article:

    the SNP called for the offending website, which is only open to Labour Party supporters and used by the Holyrood leadership, to be shut down.

    A spokesman for the SNP said: “Johann Lamont and Anas Sarwar should immediately resign from this website, which should also be shut down.”

    This looks to me like the same type of hypocricy which you ascribe to Labour. So they’re all hypocrites. Tell us something we didn’t know. You’re getting monotonously boring following this track.

    The Express piece is typically full of unattributed and part comments in order to convey the anti-Labour agenda of the journalist in what is a mostly Tory paper. So far, so tabloid.

    You, by the arguments in your piece, are as hypocritical as the people you purport to be above. Like the Famed English sense of humour piece where Captain Caveman so expertly disassembled your argument, it conveys the strictly narrow insular agenda of a Nationalist hypocrite.

    You should change the name of your site to Wings Over Wee Scotlander. It would be more apt and fitting.

      

  28. MajorBloodnok says:

    I took my medication this morning but I think someone we know didn’t, don’t we? Nurse!  The screens.

      



Leave a Reply




↑ Top