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With the arrest of Stuart Campbell “on suspicion of harassment and malicious communications” we can take it that the situation for pro-independence blogging has taken a new turn – one that is particularly dark and sinister. Following a complaint made to the Metropolitan Police in London by an unnamed woman in her 30s, police in Avon and Somerset arrested Campbell at his home address in Bath. He has since been released on bail pending further inquiries, giving the police until mid-September to consider formal charges.
In a brief statement on the Wings Over Scotland website Stuart denied the allegations, writing: “None of the tweets involved are in ANY way threatening.” This has not deterred the unionist media from painting Campbell and Wings in the dimmest possible light, leading us to suspect that this was, in fact, the real motive for his arrest. It is suspicious, given that none of the tweets in question have been removed, that nowhere is there a mention of charges – which will not in all likelihood be forthcoming.
All of this raises again the ugly spectre of well-known media bias in the arena Scottish independence activism, now with the added menace of political policing. Breaking the “story” for The Herald, Tom Gordon made sure to use this as an opportunity to underline some of Campbell’s more controversial opinions – which he is perfectly entitled to – and the fact that he is taking Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, to court over her attempt to damage his reputation by accusing him of homophobia. While nothing of this has any bearing on the circumstances surrounding his recent arrest, Gordon – followed by the BBC and the Guardian – puts it all front stage and centre in his piece.
When we see this happening, especially in light of the concerted effort by the unionist media in Scotland and Common Space to undermine his support, we are forced to see something more shady going on. As the most influential politics blog in Scotland Wings poses a significant threat to any case for the union in another referendum. Right now the apparent trend by the forces of the union is to attack Wings using almost any means necessary.
Questions must be asked of any police force that is willing to allow itself to be used as a weapon to threaten and harass political activists on the flimsiest of pretexts. If charges are not brought against Stuart Campbell – and the accusations prove to be unfounded – then we can begin to see that this was a politically motivated assault on his free speech, and that the British police have allowed themselves to become complicit in an ugly political game geared towards breaking the independence movement in Scotland.
It is frustrating that The Herald, while taking every opportunity to criminalise Campbell in public opinion, has reached out to the Spanner troll account – one of the most violently racist and abusive in the Scottish unionist twittersphere – with the hope of giving him/her/them a voice in the mainstream media.
Over the past five years the independence movement in Scotland has been presented by the media in the most disgusting way. We have seen national newspapers emblazon the saltire with a white swastika in an effort to convince the public that Scottish nationalism is a neo-Nazi movement. We have had the leaders of the SNP depicted as totalitarian despots, the coining of terms like “CyberNat,” fusing gnat and “nationalist” in the national consciousness. We have had politicians continually blackened by the media and scurrilously misquoted and misrepresented.
Every facet of the British establishment – politicians, the media, private industry and banking, and now the police – have done everything in their power to present us as an irrational and dangerous threat to law and order. Now they wonder why we don’t believe these accusations against Stuart Campbell. Of course we don’t believe them. We are up against a London-Westminster establishment that has done nothing but lie and cheat and play every conceivable dirty trick.
We are fast approaching a time in Scotland where it will be illegal – or illegal to all intents and purposes – to campaign for Scottish independence. Our job now is to make sure this doesn’t happen. The only thing that will bring this nastiness to an end is winning independence and cutting the cancer of British interference out of Scottish political life. In the meantime we would encourage people to donate what they can to Wings Over Scotland and other pro-independence blogs. This is the only media we have on our side and we cannot afford to lose it.
The Butterfly Rebellion