Stepping off the Schadenfreude Express

adbustersBy Mike Small

Hatred and ridicule, when beautifully rendered, can be wonderful things. 

The last few years has seen a blossoming of understanding about power relations in Scottish society (and beyond) and the exposure of a key set of failed institutions (the BBC, Westminster, the House of Lords, sections of the media, policing and surveillance, banking and the tax system).

This explosive politicisation has produced a welcome collapse in deference. During the referendum David Greig put it like this, suddenly: “Change is possible. Put simply, the Independence debate allows us to explore every aspect of our national life and ask ourselves the question – ‘does it have to be like this?’ “

But recently it feels like the continuityYes movement is being dragged into the sort of morbid negativity that marked out Better Together. Tweeting about Michelle Mone, moaning about Jim Murphy, slagging off Alistair Carmichael, laughing at Johann Lamont (not so much any more) can just descend into a sort of bleak but pointless certainty about everything.  While these people are deserving of endless criticism we need to remember the other part and not allow this narrative to become the preoccupation. It maybe started with the Subway, and as Labour unravelled it did seem to be handing out daily Gifts to the Gods of Satire – but we think it’s time for a re-think.

The task ahead is to put more energy into the Midwife than the Undertaker. As we build for the Holyrood elections the space for a positive debate as new parties and new policy ideas come to the fore this opportunity to put more into building up than knocking down. Of course in straight media terms this is a disastrous idea. The tabloid press have built an entire industry on bile. But that’s as good a reason as any to change course.

There are huge movements developing that need their story told, whether it’s the mass resistance to fracking, the democratisation of media, communities in resistance, people fighting back against benefit sanctions and workfare, ongoing cultural revival, community ownership of land, Occupy 2.0, green energy systems, the internet of things, or the amazing developments in Iceland, Greece and Spain to name a but a tiny few. The role of the new Left Project and the Scottish Greens (who announced their full party’s lists for Holyrood here) will also offer a focus that isn’t terminating in an obsession with our opponents but actually creating an opportunity for real change.

We like a good rant as much as anyone but our commitment is to try and spend more time on exploring and building the alternative in the coming months and years than worrying about what Michelle Mone thinks, says or does. It’s a spiral into trivia and media about media, tweeting about twitter spats and being dragged into the moron culture of celebrity life.

More real life less blah blah blah.



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Comments (26)

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  1. Michael says:

    Ridicule, yes, but hatred is never a fruitful or beneficial path, ever. Sure, sometimes its justified, and in the case of individuals who have suffered at the hands of others very understandable, but long term it’s a complete dead end it ends up hurting the hater and not the hated.

    1. John Craig says:

      In full agreement Michael,
      contacted Paul Monaghan just va couple of hours ago on this very subject.
      It’s many a long year since I visited the ” Hoolet’s Nest”, the public house owned by Margo Macdonald. It was as you might imagine a hotbed of political debate. What wasn’t apparent was the vitriolic atmosphere engendered I believe by the anonymity of the social media. In Margo’s own words ” you’ll never win an argument by attacking the man, it’s his politics you attack”.
      With this in mind, It’s been a delight to see SNP MPs radiating good manners and respect in their early days at WM. Now it has to percolate down to the grass roots. If we fail in this we will have a broken country.

      1. HerewardAwake! says:

        Well said, Michael and John. We must all try and live up to your high standards.

  2. Sam Mitchell says:

    Again I like what you say…. & fully agree that the bile is shallow ground… but at the moment with so much gifted to the grass roots in exposing the hypocrisy that has RULED.. not governed… Scotland over the last century… and that has created the epitome of ” Im all right jack “.. civil society…. then we need to keep the pressure on…
    BUT… I am all for developing new far sighted proposals and genuine forward thinking… I am fully behind looking at other countries and mirroring how they have implemented change…. whilst living in Holland for a number of years appreciating their societies improvements over our narrow vision….. although how this can be incorporated into the SNP/Holyrood mandate is beyond me… and as a guide… I refer you to the “”Land Policy Proposals “”… a step to nowhere..

  3. Elaine Fraser says:

    Couldn’t agree more- I grew tired and bored of the lambasting of individuals during the referendum and general election . I’m quite capable of making my own mind up on (or ignoring completely) celebrities or politicians I disagree with . I actually began to find it all a bit sinister as though the mission was to completely destroy and annihilate individuals and that wasnt what the Yes campaign or general election was about. Some may think it won votes, I don’t know, I suspect it might also have lost a few.I was worried for a while and began to think ‘is that it?’ – surely we didn’t come this far to just to sink to their level – wasnt the whole point to think differently, to offer something better , to make change happen?

  4. Jac Gallacher says:

    Spot on Mike, endless spouting of bile at (fill in most unpopular person of the moment here) is so negative and becomes quite draining, I hope people take heed of your advice.

  5. John S Warren says:


  6. Jane Kidd says:

    Well said. I guess power corrupts, so the baddies should simply be given enough rope.

  7. MBC says:

    Totally agree. I can never be bothered by sniping. Fair enough if they the naysayers are actually damaging us, but most of them now just seem sad and pathetic. It’s symptomatic that we have dented their confidence and are actually winning some arguments.

    I feel there is now so much to be done, with raising consciousness of what the Scotland Bill will actually bring, of how we can have influence in Europe and further afield, of how the Scottish Government can actually be bolder with the powers that it has than it has done in the past, when I fear it might have felt constrained by a lack of confidence in having a popular mandate. For instance, on fracking, fuel poverty, energy policy (a reserved area) and climate change.

    A time for leadership and political skill. A time for winning the soft Noes (about 47% of them voted out of fear, not opposition to indy) over to the case for indy by showing competance and leadership in government.

    This is a quiet period now and that is dangerous. Our enemies are busy consolidating against us. We cannot afford to stand still.

  8. Carntyne says:

    I can see no reason not to ridicule those who themselves ridicule others, especially those who lie while doing it, and most of the ridicule of establishment figures I’ve read on social media come into this category.

    So let’s not don the sackcloth and ashes just yet…

    1. Nobody’s donning sackcloth – its just a case of upping our game. Attack blogs are rest fund 9and often very popular) but increasingly talking to themselves. There’s a whole pile of very positive projects and dynamic movements that we should be supporting and reporting …

      1. Carntyne says:

        Since you’re so dogmatic on the subject I’ll leave that to Bella Caledonia.

        There’s more than one way to skin a rabbit…

  9. Jim Bennett says:

    Yep, great stuff. Let’s focus on what we should be aiming to achieve maximising the use of all the powers we have to demonstrate to people how much we can contribute to change through independence.

  10. Richard Harris says:

    Never trust a hippie.

  11. Lawrence Anderson Burley says:

    Fully agree, as does most every commentator here, on the importance of positive not negative attitude.

    A caveat ref. Alistair Carmichael however. While he should be treated without personal abuse of any kind, his behaviour is simply not acceptable. To lie brazenly, allow an investigation (not cheap) to go ahead for weeks without saying a word and once safely elected, and the report conveniently out post-election, to ‘fess up and expect his constituents simply to accept that, as Malcolm Bruce helpfully said, ‘all politicians lie so just get over it or the HoC would empty’ – that cannot be ignored in the interest of being positive.

    The legal case launched by a few brave Islanders (because they face unlimited liabilities for court costs if it goes against them), is I think in itself a positive development : that we will no longer allow politicians to get away with such contempt for the electorate.

    I out in my £10 to that cause (see: and I hope many Bella readers will.

    1. Worth clarifying – this is’t a call for people to be uncritical, it’s just that we seem to be swamped by one single approach and mired in personality politics.

  12. Richard Harris says:

    “Man spricht von Gewalt, wenn ein Fluss ungebändigt alles mit sich reißt, aber wenn die
    Ufer ihn gewaltsam in sein Bett zwingen, dann
    schweigt man still.” – Brecht.

    The violence/anger/rage of the river compared with the banks that hold it in. Salute the rage. Always.

  13. leginge says:

    Well along with a lot of people I am sick and tired of public figures openly lying and being reported without challenge in the tabloid press and online with the sole objective of smearing the Independence movement – it is time to fight back. Descending into personal abuse is wrong of course, but Mone was simply and easily refuted by pure facts as WOS showed

    1. No doubt, the point is we need to look at systems not just individuals and we need to explore alternatives not just be ‘anti’ and negative the whole time. I’m bored, for example, of talking about the Labour Party. At some point also – if you want to win independence – you need to convince the unconvinced and create a strong economic and social case. Talking about Michelle Mone doesn’t really do that.

      1. Jones says:

        If you want to convince to unconvinced you need to figure out an answer to the currency question. End of Story.

        I think the tone and certainty and overt flag waving and personal attacks on others for holding different political opinions to the continuityYes has alienated many who at first bought into the ‘nicey nice’ civic nationalism. Your speaking into the echo chamber again. No one likes bullies.

        1. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

          ”If you want to convince to unconvinced ”

          You don’t, Jim Murphy is a robot and Michelle Moan is a mannequin, they need to be unplugged and rewired.

  14. johnny come lately says:

    Good article. whilst it is nessecary to expose our elected representatives it is more than tiring reading 2-300 comments slagging Jim Murphy off. I stopped reading wings for several months. Not because I had an axe to grind, but because I became tired of reading entire threads filled with endless negativity and bile.

  15. Jones says:

    In what way is the ‘New/ Alternative Media’ democratic when they are individually owned entities? Crowdfunding is systemically no different from paying a fee for a MSM ‘newspaper’, if ownership and editorial control are not separated. Which they generally aren’t.

    ‘But recently it feels like the continuityYes movement is being dragged into the sort of morbid negativity that marked out Better Together. Tweeting about Michelle Mone, moaning about Jim Murphy, slagging off Alistair Carmichael, laughing at Johann Lamont (not so much any more) can just descend into a sort of bleak but pointless certainty about everything. While these people are deserving of endless criticism we need to remember the other part and not allow this narrative to become the preoccupation.’

    ‘Recently’ ‘While these people deserve endless criticism’ Jeezo, you really really have no self awareness at all. If it wasn’t so absurd it would be funny.

    ‘Pointless certainty about everything’ I feel a well known Betrand Russel aphorism coming on

    ‘The problem with the modern world (Scotland)…..’ you fill in the rest, I’m far to doubtful to finish it.

  16. leginge says:

    ok Bella please advise how we win our arguments for independence with people in the workplaces, the pubs, offices when confronted with lies taken straight from people like michelle mone , murphy etc – WOS provides invaluable factual dismantling of their lies. Pointing out to people the bias of reporting and providing factual evidence is also part of the overall battle to win over the unconvinced. The objective is to convince/educate people that the MSM and its supporters cannot ever be trusted.

  17. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

    ”Tweeting about Michelle Mone,”

    She’s like a Frank Sinatra Farewell Tour, ” I’m leaving Scotland if the SNP win, I’m leaving Scotland if the SNP win, etc etc.” Groan.

    The reality is she left Scotland years ago, she has a 2 million pound flat in Mayfair London.

    1. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

      She really does love herself, doesn’t she ?

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