2007 - 2021

Salmond and the shadow of Scottish masculinity

The topic of Scottish masculinity has been done to death, its every whim shaken down to be scrutinised in minute detail. Post-industrial or old romantic, the slighted Scottish male stares at you from a thousand well thumbed set texts on the Scottish curriculum. He croaks for attention in ever more decrepit op-ed columns. He asks obtuse long-winded questions at public events. He is easily offended, monumentally self-indulgent, and ever present. I don’t want to write about him, but he is still very much with us.

I don’t really want to say anything about the Salmond story either, but when the world of Scottish politics was upended by a series of unprecedented events last week, something of their significance was overlooked. There is an unusual weight to the whole affair, due to the difficult legacy of our attitudes to masculinity and heroism in Scotland, and the question of whether a new political generation can establish itself on its own terms.

As far as the events themselves go, the pattern is now familiar enough. A story about two women with a complaint against a former boss, is told as the story of one man’s fight. When the First Minister herself responded, foregrounding the experience of those women and the substantive nature of their complaint, again the focus was dragged back to the one man, unbowed, flaunting his political base. In linking up a personal claim to innocence and demand for redress to the cause of Scottish independence, a great wave of anger was mobilised.

It drew on currents that already exert a strong pull amongst some online nationalist communities. Currents which say that independence must be sealed-off from all fadish concerns of the moment, questions of gender foremost among them. The cause must be as straightforward as it is virile. It is not so much Salmond himself, but the great edifice of the slighted Scottish man that now hoves into view, demanding satisfaction. It is his trial of strength, his great measuring up. “Scotland small?” Not with such big beasts in its environs. The slighted Scot is so used to crowding out other perspectives, he will fight the strangest fights.

Whether or not there is a “civil war” brewing within the SNP, as the headlines and hashtags fret over, this story is, undoubtedly, part of a war. A war to be heard. A war that began with a revolution half a century ago over the rights of women to assert control over their bodies. A war that – in the form of the far-reaching global implications of #MeToo – means that things will never be the same again.

Salmond’s dramatic response speaks to a wider set of anxieties around emasculation, in a nation so fond of wallowing in its wounded pride. Nationalist or not, the slighted Scottish male must not allow demands for accountability to interrupt the licking of his own wounds and the nurturing of his own sense of being particularly wronged by events. A compliant rebel, a cowering lion, stottering between fits of intoxicated grandstanding and black self-loathing, the slighted Scot still tells his own story. Take that from him and what is he?


You could aye see the boyish gleam at derring-do in Salmond more than most politicians: a sharp eye for the historic being a prerequisite for the difficult, at times impossible, task that the would-be father of the nation long laboured at. For many, Salmond offered something very rare in contemporary politics: o’erleaping cynicism, he brought something with him from another age. A sense of mission, a larger-than-life-in-our-times quality, the welcome candour of conviction.

Undoubtedly a special, precocious boy, doted on, he would need a boundless imagination. How else would it be possible to pursue an often obscure cause in all the drafty kirk halls, agricultural fairs and damp seaside conferences that marked the wilderness years of the SNP? As it turned out, the adventurous spirit paid off, in quantities far greater than anyone foresaw.

For there was something there in the picture books — derided as romance that was only fit for children — that instilled a version of history that resonated. Something to rise up for, a righteous cause. In the boy’s mind, as in the man’s, the place could be transformed, the drab pulled back to reveal a long-concealed more colourful view. Peopled with the great half mythical men of yore, but also where you came from. Try-Try-Try-Again.

But no one grows up without profound moments of disenchantment with the heroic. Those who don’t become trapped by it. In this way, the slighted Scot is fated to swing back and forth endlessly between the Alan Brecks and the Begbies of this world. Both equally impossible figures: bonnie fechters fighting the wrong battles after the war is lost.

Besides, the stories were always half stories, obscuring centuries of lives just as remarkable, that happened not to be masculine. All of those years of silencing cannot be shrugged off lightly. The old Scotland, where women, queers and people of colour had to be shut out, casts a long shadow.

Throughout much of the planet nationalism is a death-cult, people (usually boys) die for stories about who they are in ways that the proverbial alien observer would find baffling. Yet as Salmond himself once said, Scotland took on the full weight of such totems in 2014, asking itself truly searching questions about identity, “without so much as a nosebleed”. You might think of that as a crowning achievement, politicians just as ambitious have left the stage citing far less in their favour.

But perhaps, instead, the damage is internal, the violence self-inflicted. Certainly, a Scottish man remains more likely to end his own life than those in the nations next door. The legacy of slighted Scottish masculinity is a corrosive thing, working away at the innards as surely as any cirrhosis.


What might the big beast of Scottish politics have done differently? Perhaps he might have found a way to live in someone else’s world, to allow a process to unfold before seeking to raise the stakes and add confusion to the mix with actions of his own. He might also be able to accept that a transition is underway – not just around the question of how men in positions of power conduct themselves, but also within Scottish nationalism itself.

Salmond is 16 years older than Nicola Sturgeon, the same age gap between his own predecessor, Gordon Wilson: a man who branded equal marriage “a step towards fascism”. Times and attitudes must change. A new political generation must be allowed to go through its own process of renewal without the old reasserting itself. Otherwise, the cause becomes trapped in a vacuum and, starved of the currents of change, it withers into something strange and bitter.

A decade or so ago, there was an inherent absurdity to the claims of wronged men seeking the limelight. But we’ve travelled a long way in a short time since Fathers for Justice. Today, the quest for redress against the perceived erosion of the rights of hetrosexual men mines a rich seam of grievance voiced as a counter-revolution in the making. But the tools at the disposal of the aggrieved with a platform are now entirely transformed. To seek instantaneous mass support over a perceived outrage is dangerous and potent. It comes with real risks that simply didn’t exist before.

There is no reason to hitch the already volatile cultural baggage of slighted Scottish masculinity to the politics of a movement still wounded by a close run referendum. That combination leads down a rabbit hole dark enough to lose a country in.

Until the empty rattle of Scottish masculinity shuffles off stage, until we resolve to tell a better, more complete, story about who we are, the self-destructive imperative will always be there. To escape his self-imposed burden and join in that still more remarkable project, the slighted Scot must face his great trial yet: he must forego his platform, and learn to listen to women.

Comments (77)

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  1. Craig P says:

    Could somebody explain this article to me please? I don’t understand it but I like Chris Silver so I want to.

    1. What don’t you understand?

    2. MikeH says:

      When I came to Scotland in 1979 to teach at Glasgow Uni my students immediately invited me to a party at the “Union”. I walked in with my wife and was stopped at the door – she could not enter without being signed in – it was the “men’s union”! In Spain wives always kept their own name and were treated as equals, so my wife saw this straight away as a demeaning antiquated process, but chose to ignore it, meet the students and have fun … and never return.

      Over nearly 40 years in Blasgow, things have definitely changed as my daughters themselves can confirm, but there is still a certain old generation and a section of Scottish society that is living in a bygone age of male self-importance and condescension towards women.

      When Sturgeon took over the SNP and broadened out its boundaries to make it more inclusive, not only for women but also for many other underrepresented minorities, the old traditional party still until then clinging to ‘blood and land’ looked as if it had finally been brought into the 21st century. I joined the local party, but was dismayed to see how it was still led by the over-60s, with one of them admitting that his views could be seen as sexist and racist to some. I told him my wife was ‘foreign’, and I would therefore be leaving the party to vote with my own conscience, despite later being invited to join the neighbouring town’s SNP group led by a younger ‘female’ activist.

      Salmond is very much from the old school, no matter how much he hides it and even though his real problem is more one of an inflated ego.

      I have always voted SNP since it modernised, I voted Yes at the referendum, and voted Remain as a committed European with family in four EU countries.
      So for me, the biggest danger for the SNP is failing to maintain its modern inclusivity and going back to the old party exclusivity. Sectarianism had almost disappeared until Brexit arrived, and Scotland had already been divided down the middle after IndyRef1 – Salmond is certainly not helping by throwing in this further divisive factor along gender lines.

    3. scrandoonyeah says:

      easy………just pretend you are a hamster on a wheel going round and round and round and round and round and round and you try making sense of what you are doing…..eventually you realise it doesn’t make any sense at all but you can’t stop because your head is so minced you can’t think straight…..and all the other hamsters are looking at you and thinking….. what the f**k

  2. Tom says:

    Craig P: It’s beyond me as well. But, like you, I like and admire Chris Silver, so perhaps another reader will help us both out …

    1. Kevin Williamson says:

      It’s quite complicated and my interpretation is possibly a tad over-psychological but I’ll give it a try:

      I’d say it was about guys with big fucking chips on their shoulders shutting the fuck up for 5 minutes and giving centre stage primarily to wummin and their concerns.

      Apologies for aw the jargon.

      1. Craig P says:

        Thanks Kevin

        It’s a good general point, though throwing the specific case of Salmond into the mix has left the article less rather than more focused.

        On that specific case, I think Wee Ginger Dug has said it best.

  3. David Wood says:

    Dear Dear. This is one of the poorest articles I have seen on Bella. I have tried to understand it, but can’t.

    1. What don’t you understand?

      1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

        I could understand it, but, I am disappointed in it. It is rather rambling, hinting at links, but not quite making them. It is stereotyping men in Scotland, by generalising from a number of literary tropes. It flits between ‘Scottish males’ and Mr Alex Salmond in a rather elliptical, perhaps ‘dogwhistling’ way. There seems to be a strong element of personal self loathing. It is an example of the ‘Scottish cringe’

        It feels as if it is a series of notes which are the bones of a longer piece yet to be written.

        Like the others, I am disappointed.

        It might have been better if he had confronted the issues more directly. There are two issues. Firstly, there is the right of anyone who feels that he or she has been harassed to make a complaint and have it listened to, have it properly investigated and a finding made. Undoubtedly, many people, especially women, have not been afforded such respect and have, if some did speak out, suffered further harassment. The fact that this complaint has been received five years after the alleged event should not lead to inferences being drawn. The second issue is that the complaints and investigation procedure should be fair to the person against whom the complaint is being laid. During my career I had to investigate a number of complaints of harassment. They were difficult to do and fraught with potential problems, which often stemmed from the emotional intensity of the responses on both sides. Procedures evolved and sometimes I felt that the complainant was favoured and at others, the ‘accused’ seemed to benefit. So, perhaps a judicial review is a reasonable way forward.

        It is this final point which has given people with other agendas and people who are mischief makers the opportunity to pursue their own agendas. And, it is not just the fact that Mr Salmond has decided to seek a review, it is the fact that he has also sought crowdfunding. Justice can be very expensive, even for persons allegedly ‘very wealthy’ and there is an argument that crowdfunding is a valid way of dealing with this. For example Mr Andy Wightman and ‘The Orkney Four’ did this. People who have donated to such things did so for a variety of reasons. A counterarguments is that this might be perceived as a veiled threat against the complainant. While it is about the process, it might be sending a signal that there could be a legal action against the complainant at a later date.

        Personally, I think the FM has handled this with courage. I think we need to let both matters take their courses and then draw conclusions.

      2. David wood says:

        I don’t understand the article. Perhaps you might interpret it for me?

  4. John Mooney says:

    Complete and utter sanctimonious claptrap,one of the poorest articles I have read in a long time,however every one to their own opinions.

  5. Stevie A says:

    “Until the empty rattle of Scottish masculinity shuffles off stage, until we resolve to tell a better, more complete, story about who we are, the self-destructive imperative will always be there. To escape his self-imposed burden and join in that still more remarkable project, the slighted Scot must face his great trial yet: he must forego his platform, and learn to listen to women.”

    Saw this conclusion bit. Hope it helps.

    Great piece and at an important time. Thanks Chris and Mike

  6. Isla Browning says:

    I couldn’t understand either so stopped reading

  7. David Allan says:

    A well communicated appraisal of a Scot’s Males knee jerk reaction to a perception and feeling of being unfairly wronged combined with frustration over not being able to influence or control events. It’s a Scottish male trait. In oor genes i’m sorry to say.

    I feel like that whenever I have to engage and persevere with insurance call centres to renew my Car Insurance -frustrated and powerless! being controlled rather than in control.

    What I’d like to have explained is why when the alleged incident/s took place in 2013 why is it only raised as a complaint in January 2018.

    The Unionist Better Together and the Red Tops and the Snoops that I’m sure hovering around at the time would each have paid big money for such coverage in 2013 so just why was a complaint not made public during the height of Referendum Campaign?

    I’ll make my mind up on the merits of who has been wronged when I’m made aware of all information.

    As should the media .

    1. florian albert says:

      It might be argued that the females, who did complain, lacked confidence that their complaint against such an important individual would be properly investigated.
      To me, the delay in asking the police to investigate is more significant.
      How can it require seven months for a very senior civil servant to reach the conclusion that a police investigation is necessary ?

      1. David Allan says:

        The Senior Civil Servant is doing what civil servants do best – passing the buck. Prevaricating. It’s the public sector afterall.

        Mibbee due to retire soon leaving the issue with a successor – who knows. Nothing surprises me any more.

        Eventually we will know why the lengthy process delays occurred. In the meantime there can be no doubt that the leak provoked not very edifying media speculation..

        Personally speaking I applaud his reaction to the Govt leak.

        1. Jo says:

          The Permanent Secretary, as yet, has made no comment about the extent of the leaks from her investigation straight to the Daily Record. I find that astonishing. I also find it astonishing that the First Minister hasn’t commented on it either.
          The investigation was confidential yet the Record has received all sorts of detail from it, including witness statements! If it turns out that there is a prosecution in this case it has surely been prejudiced through the publication of such detail?
          With such concerns in mind I wrote to the Permanent Secretary over a week ago asking if she would be investigating the leaks. As yet I have received no reply.

      2. Mr William Fraser says:

        Or 5 years to complain. Salmond has the right to complain about the process, especially if it is true that he has no right to examine the complaints, know who the complaints are, have access to other civil servants who may be able to corroborate his version of events. Not only that but he has a right to privacy if and until a criminal court finds him guilty. The leak to the press not only is an assault on his privacy but that of the complainants who will surely be hunted down by the press. This article implies that he is guilty of something. Nothing has been proved so the author should shut up until due process takes place.

        1. Kathleen Caskie says:

          Where are people getting this from (that Salmond was not made aware of the identity of his accusers or the nature of the allegations)? You’re not the first person to be saying this.

          But Salmond himself has never claimed this, and the relevant Scottish Government procedure (assuming it was followed) (and whether found to be ‘fair’ or not) specifically includes various points at which Salmond would have been given this information.

          With so few facts in the public domain, it might be better to stick to them rather than this idea that somehow Salmond was given no information at all. There is no evidence at all to support such an assertion.

          1. Susan Smith says:

            The report in the Daily Record of his denial of the allegations and of his description of how the complaints procedure had been handled is one source https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/alex-salmond-responds-allegations-sexual-13129941

          2. Kathleen Caskie says:

            Except Susan, he doesn’t say that in the actual piece you link to. He doesn’t say that.

          3. Jo says:

            Oh but there’s plenty in the public domain Kathleen, most of it leaked direct to the Daily Record and published, including witness statements!

    2. William Nicoll says:

      It really a stereotype of Scottish males from a very particular standpoint. I don’t recognise that view of Scottish males, certainly none that I have ever met, and I hav ebeen around a long time.

  8. Josef Ó Luain says:

    If “Salmond” had been edited out of the mix, I doubt whether it would’ve made any difference to the presented piece .

  9. McNonsense says:

    I couldn’t make out what this is trying to say either. Has any actual evidence against Slamond been made public yet? Isn’t it just another smear campaign to divide, distract and weaken the independence movement? It is playbook stuff. Like Corbyn and the antisemitism nonsense.

  10. Donnie McCuish says:

    Is Salmond guilty of the alleged offence?

    I hope not, I don’t think so, I have doubts due to timing – I think other factors may be at play and finally I don’t know, but I repeat, I hope not.

    My opinion of the women concerned, they absolutely deserve to have their voices heard and identities protected, whilst equally their voices are questioned by those tasked with finding the truth. The truth should be the ultimate objective of the process.

    Am I or any one I know going to change their belief that Scotland should govern itself based on the case – no. Do I think trident should remain on the Clyde because of these allegations, no! Will I accept the loss of my European identity because of this, no, etc.

    Do the opposition, press, and bbc wish to use this to undermine independence, of course they do and they’ve been at it since the news broke (the news they leaked).

    Is the First Minister wrong in her approach to the case? No, she could not have steered a more assured path with dignity. This is the Scottish Parliament’s process, until it is changed it must be followed, to do otherwise would leave the government open to deserved criticism and calls of cronyism.

    Was it right that the content of the allegations was leaked to the press? No, and lets be clear it would not have been an SNP politician who leaked it, why shoot your foot off? That leaves civil servants, civil servants who the First Minster must defend until proven otherwise. There is no other path for her.

    Is there a case of civil war in the SNP? I already detect that there is great frustration in the press and bbc that supporters of independence are not at each others throats and have calmly accepted the situation.

    Recent cases of senior tories being accused of similar happenings have been greeted with “move along nothing to see here”, were they guilty, who knows, no process was followed and the allegations fell from view. This does leave them open to suggestions that when ever the right quid quo pro was returned the story vanished. Would the press or bbc use these tory instances to undermine the unoin, no!

    Long and short of this is that supporters and politicians of independence will be treated differently from unionist counterparts. We know this. But equally we know that when allegations are made, irrespective of whom they are made against, due process must be followed.

    1. Patricia McTavish says:

      Thank you so much for that. I needed someone to say what I couldn’t quite articulate myself. I didn’t really get the point he was making so was frustrated that it might have been just a bit too clever for me.

    2. William Nicoll says:

      I kind of suspect that the leak thing could be deliberate in order to make any prosecution impossible. So no court case, no no guilty verdict. But, mus sticks so he will be considered guily anyway by the court of public opinion stirred up by the press.

  11. David Allan says:


    “A compliant rebel, a cowering lion, stottering between fits of intoxicated grandstanding and black self-loathing, the slighted Scot still tells his own story.
    Take that from him and what is he?”

    Coming from a Male perspective being of a similar age to Salmond and having some empathy to his plight my answer – A Scottish Male Wimp!

    Had he remained silent what would that have suggested? A no win situation arising from a leak from somewhere within the Govt Department handling the complaint a process which should have remained confidential .

  12. Kenny Smith says:

    I have to be completely honest I stopped reading the article. Sorry, I don’t mind Alex Salmond but I’m no sycophant if he,s guilty and it’s proven then by all means he will get what he deserves but he is entitled to defend himself against allegations. The whole wounded masculine thing totally lost me.

  13. Alan Martin says:

    I rather doubt the whole “masculinity” thing is particularly Scottish, look around you.
    Nor do I place much credence on sweeping generalisations.

    That said, of course the macho man thing exists, it’s entrenched into the very systems which have brought us to where we are today. It is ancient.
    So it’s a much bigger problem than just Wee Eck and some of his followers up North.

    I do consider though that to rush to judgement on any part of the Salmond thing at this point is an exercise in futility being as it is almost wholly without detail.

  14. Jo says:

    This piece is dreadful. It lacks any balance whatsoever I’m afraid.

    Learn to listen to women? Why only women? As a female myself I totally oppose this nonsense that condemns misogyny but is right up for imposing the same wretched treatment on many that was once dished out to women. That is no answer at all nor is an article like this although I am sure the author will get lots of brownie points from the scarier sisters out there.

    The writer is clearly making a judgement here….except he’s lacked the guts to come right out with it. He’s dressed the piece up as something meaningful when it’s just a b-tching-fest about Salmond and an attack on men full stop.

    There are many I listen to of both sexes. I don’t seek out female voices more than male voices. There are as many female eejits out there as male eejits. Why would I listen to the women just because they are women and condemn /dismiss the men because they’re men?

    Is anyone out there confused, bemused and amused that, despite a journey seeking equality, parity, fairness and the rest we’ve ended up in an even worse position than ever? Aye, to borrow a phrase, me too!

    1. MrPeace says:

      Thank you so much for this. We are being divided along every possible ridicules fault line. The untangling of our social fabric and community cohesion is the aim. YOu’ve put it so clearly and I thank you so so much for it.

    2. John says:

      I’m so glad you wrote that! Pretty much what I was thinking, although much more articulate (and I’m a man, so those sentiments coming from me are problematic apparently..)

  15. SleepingDog says:

    Or you could just devote less attention to suchlike, and more to the Scotland national football team which today won its qualifying group and is going to the World Cup in France next year (the fourth hard-fought-win-by-a-single-goal in a row that edged out the favoured Swiss who were held to a draw away to Poland).

  16. Neil Scott says:

    Superb piece.

    The slighted (mostly male) Scot is now reaching for the twitter or Facebook app, sookin’ oan a bottle and gieyin it laldy on some fey Yoon’s feed regardless of their status mouthing off that they too want indy. Of course, only the truly anointed ones, the men meeting in backroom to plan the next Hope Under One Fleg march, dance, and manel get indy. Only they understand the pain and burden of the “wrongly accused.” Indy wullnae be handed to us by way of equality, and by “Step aside, brother.” Only men hold the chieftains cudgel; the right to rant and shout from a stage. The weemin can ask the tae. The weemin can sing a song. The weemin can clear up after the mess is made.

    And the bottle us drained, set aside. The plans, are made and the enemy mobbed, doxxed, poisoned and subdued. Sense prevails and the loudest voice in the bubble is our leader.

  17. Charles L. Gallagher says:

    A gentle reminder to the Author and some contributors, Mr Salmond to the best of my knowledge has not been cautioned, interviewed by Police Scotland and David Clegg is the only person who seems to know all about for certain;y Mr Salmond does not. So until we all have something to go on I think everyone should ‘zip-it’.

    1. Ian says:

      Indeed. I think I do understand the article and what you have neatly describes its unpleasant underbelly.

      1. Rebel Yell says:

        What does Charles have, which neatly describes the underbelly of the piece???

  18. Justin Kenrick says:

    Christopher Silver’s article ends: “To escape his self-imposed burden and join in that still more remarkable project, the slighted Scot must face his great trial yet: he must forego his platform, and learn to listen to women.”

    On this platform (and moments before this article) another article – by Sara Clark – was published.

    It’s fantastic. I’d recommend Chris and everyone heads over and listens to it:

    She writes of the importance of accepting that for Yes and No voters – our care and empathy matters more than our disagreement.

    I read her as saying that the next Indyref push for Yes has to show the same emotional maturity as the last one showed political maturity.

    “. . . but the biggest lesson ah’ll take awa frae the referendum is never again tae see a Naw voter as bein sae different frae masel. Never tae believe ma feelins are mair valid than theirs


    1. Sara Clark says:

      Justin, thanks so much for taking the time to write this very kind comment on my article, which you completely got the meaning of. It means a lot :0)

  19. Shirley Wis says:


  20. Missus Wishy says:


  21. Alan Crocket says:

    The author advises Salmond to “allow a process to unfold” and to “forego his platform”. I take that to mean he shouldn’t defend himself. If so, such advice is self-evidently absurd.

    The only aspect of the Salmond case we can discuss right now without idle speculation is the government’s official procedure, because that is written down and publicly available on its website, and without any reference to Salmond whatsoever we can say that it is blatantly unfair with regard to former ministers, even if applied to the letter. How so?

    It says that the target of the complaint is to be “provided with details” and “given an opportunity to respond”, to be “invited to provide a statement” and allowed to “request that statements are taken from other witnesses”.

    That is the full extent of the part to be played by the target. The report then goes to the Permanent Secretary, who will then “decide whether the complaint is well-founded”. And that’s it.

    In short, the procedure is just like a police investigation, but one which never gets to a trial because the final decision on guilt or innocence is made by the commanding officer. The target never gets to test the case against him.

    Fair? Not in a million years, and it is preposterous to suggest that Salmond should refrain from protesting its unfairness.

  22. kate macleod says:

    I think a more straight talking account of some of these issues can be seen in the herald’s comparison of the salmond & snp /independence situation to the tommy sheridan and ssp/socialism events .
    A major difference being there are more literary references in this article , ie. equating salmond – sheridan fits better, perhaps the historical/genre prototype being napoleon – to a former romantic male hero and ‘man of action’, 19th C style. The hero turns out to be more flawed than most thought in their worst nightmares – see in the genre especially Emperor Napoleon and lesser contemporary examples such as tommy sheridan again – and he is apparently prepared to throw his party and govt and more seriously possibly independence under the bus, using the legal system, to foster his own legend, even using perjury.

    On the other hand what is this rubbish of being under the public shaming microscope for very vague and almost totally undisclosed reasons? kafka ‘the trial’ style.
    salmond could be said to have called that out, which is as important as calling out sexual harassment and sexual crimes, because totally opaque , undisclosed trangressions, know only to be labelled transgressions, but with no further given content, can be used to destroy people for partisan reasons, personal vengeance, etc .
    at their most serious undisclosed ‘security’ related transgressions can lead to suspension of human and legal rights, as in guatanamo bay , the detention of ‘traitor’ journalists holding the criminal activities of govts to account.

    The timing of these events are suspicious, as is the leadership of Sturgeon on other underlying issues. Sturgeon has shown herself far closer to right wing UK establishment narratives of power than Salmond in recent years, eulogizing various US hawk politicians, to many aka war criminals, and declaring herself not a socialist to a US audience. No kidding? The serious voices of press freedom such as Chris Hedges do not see RT, on which Salmond has appeared, as a more distorted or fake news media outlet than the corporate media and UK state media. The US state has labelled RT a foreign agent, along with various left online sites. How is it determined who is a foreign agent or an enemy of the people? Undisclosed but probably in the ancient way – an enemy of the people is an enemy of the rulers of the people.

  23. Norrie Stewart says:

    The result of ‘Salmondgate’ is entirely predictable. If Mr Salmond goes to court and is found guilt, those that support him will cry conspiracy and smear. If Mr Salmond goes to court and is found not guilt, or does not get charged, those that oppose him will cry conspiracy and coverup. As for the press, this ceased to be about the two women involved the minute Mr Salmonds name was made public, that’s if the press would have mentioned it at all. Will either outcome change Mr Silvers view that Scottish masculinity should shuffles off the stage. No, but the plight of the three people involved in this saga was a handy hook to hang his opinion on. Perhaps it would have been best if he’d really not said anything at all about Mr Salmond in this piece.

  24. Interpolar says:

    Well, for that the author didn’t really want to talk about Salmond, that was quite an obituary.

    But just to ask, supposing you were in Salmond‘s situation and supposing you were innocent, having had the accusations all dragged out into the public sphere, how long would you let the process unfold before you sought to defend yourself?

    And on the discourse of slighted Scottish masculinity, it was not least Salmond himself who has been effective in tackling “proud-scotism”, which is a soulmate to the psychological state whose demise you celebrate.

  25. Justin Kenrick says:

    Linking a reflection on masculinity to a current politician’s case invites folk to read this but makes it much harder to hear what you are saying.

    You end: “To escape his self-imposed burden and join in that still more remarkable project, the slighted Scot must face his great trial yet: he must forego his platform, and learn to listen to women.” On this platform, Bella, (and moments before this article) another article – by Sara Clark – was published. It’s fantastic. I’d recommend everyone heads over and listens to it:

    Sara writes of the importance of accepting that for Yes and No voters – our care and empathy matters more than our disagreement: “. . . but the biggest lesson ah’ll take awa frae the referendum is never again tae see a Naw voter as bein sae different frae masel. Never tae believe ma feelins are mair valid than theirs.”

    I read her as saying that this next Indyref push for Yes has to show the same emotional maturity as the last one showed political maturity, a willingness to take the fears of No voters more seriously than they are taking them themselves, to really listen until they get down below the mantras they believe, and we get down below the mantras we believe, and arrive at the simple question: do we dare build a society that cares for all, including No voters?


  26. ed says:


  27. Tom says:

    Having read Chris Silver’s essay a second time, I think the essence of his argument is that, whether or not Salmond is right that the Scottish government’s investigation into the complaints against him was unfair, he should have taken it like a (modern) man, rather than giving in to “the empty rattle of (his) Scottish masculinity”. In other words, he should have kept shtum.

    That’s a curious argument given the circumstances, which are that someone within or close to the Scottish government apparently leaked details of the accusations against Salmond to the press, with presumably one objective (or at least only one I can think of) – to damage Salmond.

    But standing up for women’s equality, and for the re-balancing of power and relationships within society, can’t be on the basis of injustice along the way. If it is, the prospects for women’s equality will be knocked back, because most reasonable people (of both sexes; see the comments in Salmond’s crowdfunder) will not wear it. Sturgeon and Leslie Evans have both failed to address this.

    None of us can know what happened in Bute House five years ago, or for that matter the ins and outs of the Scottish government investigation. But leaving anyone hanging out to dry, even a once-powerful but still hugely influential man like Salmond (the end justifies the means argument) can’t be a legitimate way to achieve equality. Go down that route, and it won’t happen.

    Let ‘s not forget that these allegations against Salmond have been reported to the police. Which of us would not want to defend ourselves in such circumstances?

  28. montfleury says:

    “There is no reason to hitch the already volatile cultural baggage of slighted Scottish masculinity to the politics of a movement still wounded by a close run referendum. ”

    Absolutely not. So let’s not do that. Let’s do something else! Does anybody know what this gentleman’s on about?

  29. montfleury says:

    “Let ‘s not forget that these allegations against Salmond have been reported to the police.”

    Indeed, indeed. Wise words. Also words with a straightforward meaning, which is always nice to see.

  30. Cathy says:

    Brilliant article…my cartoon character..Beastie ( tough guy…sort of thick as two short planks)… says…whit?

  31. Redgauntlet says:

    Except Salmond isn’t JUST defending himself, is he?

    He’s trying to get the whole complaints procedure changed which is something which nobody else could possibly do in a similar situation…

    …he may be right that it needs changed, but that is not the point. He is using his power to try to change the system at the same time as he is facing allegations.

    He also set up a crowd funding campaign to this end, and has been all over the media about the matter…

    In a word, he has been responded very robustly to allegations which have clearly been leaked for political reasons to the press…

    Salmond is a loose canon and has been for some time now, since he stood down more or less… it’s a very common affliction which ,many ex-leaders suffer from.

    Obama is showing signs of it – decrying the other day “bombast”; Obama is possibly the most bombastic US president there has ever been bar none – and Blair and Brown indulge in it too, though to be fair they don’t have a TV show.

    It’s all a bit of a storm in a teacup and a distraction I think…

    A no deal Brexit is on the cards and that is going to be carnage. Anything could happen…

  32. Crubag says:

    Regarding Alex Salmond, my understanding is he’s challenging the internal Scottish Government process, which is (or should be) like any company. If the subject doesn’t like the process, they would take it to an industrial tribunal – where employers often lose their case if they haven’t scrupulously followed their procedure.

    Where it gets more interesting – and what I take from this piece – is the subject of power. Politicians are part of the government apparatus – so like employees in some ways – but also above it, in that they can make and unmake the apparatus. That’s an unusual situation and one I can see the Civil Service struggling with.

    The possession and exercise of power can obviously be linked to historical male-domination. But something missing from this piece is how we ourselves haven’t attempted to make a new political culture in Scotland. We’re largely imported the habits of Westminster – and many of our first generation MSPs, like Salmond were schooled at Westminster – with all its adversarial, point-scoring faults. Rather than open data, open government, open decisions.

  33. DialMforMurdo says:

    “To seek instantaneous mass support over a perceived outrage is dangerous and potent. It comes with real risks that simply didn’t exist before.”

    Well said, the best was left to last.
    The former Tartan Overlord, was fully aware that his Svengali rallying call, under the cloak of required QC funding, would unfankle diehards looking for an another adjunct to their loyalty and unleash a plethora of increasingly deranged conspiracies involving secret security shenanigans and accusations that truly deserve apologies. He pulled a string and crowds unthinkingly threw coins at his feet.

    The sad thing here is that anyone who witnessed the man in action has also known his reflection, the charismatic older uncle figure, the one with glass in hand and a gleam in his eye who takes an awestruck audience on journey of boastful tales around seductive encounters. He’s an anachronism, a dinosaur, the embarrassing last man standing at the wedding party, trying to woo the plainest of bridesmaids 20 years his junior, impressive stories flow, whilst he keeps his wedding finger hidden.

    His plea for instant support is dangerous, it demanded uncritical unwavering loyalty, an endorsement of innocence, fealty and cash. I hope, I’m wrong, but I fear many friends who dipped into their weekly budget to refight 2014 have backed the wrong horse.

    PS Mike, that feedback thing over there =====> is really chuffing annoying!

  34. Brian says:

    “an unusual weight to the whole affair,” – attributed by whom?
    “A story about two women with a complaint against a former boss, is told as the story of one man’s fight.” – told by whom?
    “the focus was dragged back to the one man, ” – dragged back by whom ?
    etc etc
    Who is your target here?
    I really don’t understand.

  35. kailyard rules says:

    We are here witnessing Alec Salmond being set up as the primary flawed example of the archetypical scottish male b/dastard within this pseudo intellectual journalese. Can the writer detail for us some examples of what has been “done to death” regarding the specific Scottish masculinity he speaks of. (Forget the woded fella). The first paragraph of the piece sets the tone of misandry. The writer says he does not want to speak about Salmond then on he goes embedding him for virtually the entire piece. There is a new aggressive politics of gender being slotted into the daily mix these days which should be guarded against. Divide and rule?

  36. w.b. robertson says:

    I join the ranks of those too thick to understand. The piece strikes me as pretentious knitting at a keyboard – and should have swiftly landed on the editorial spike. First rule of any opinion piece is to make the reader aware of the point that is being put forward. It should not involve some invoilve some mental exertion in pseudo code cracking. (or at least that was the rule many years ago when I was in the trade!)

  37. Malcolm Fraser says:

    We’re on a journey from the old Scots character of the past. Salmond’s embrace of the idea of civic nationalism – belonging arising from our implicit commitment to the physical place (the “mongrel nation” so eloquently endorsed by William MacIlvanney) – has underpinned a critical step on the way to the political maturity outlined so well above. We should be grateful to him for that. The journey to emotional maturity is ongoing, and there will be pain and hurt along the way; it’s a personal tragedy to see this and we can only hope for due process to be respected as it unfolds.

    1. Thanks Malcolm, yes that was my understanding of Christopher’s piece.

      The visceral reaction of many to what’s he’s written is telling, responses seem to have three forms: the first is ant-intellectual ‘word soup’ ‘too many big words’ ‘pretentious’ ‘pseudo’ etc etc etc; the second is contortion, ‘what you’re really saying is all men are bastards’ ‘misandry’ etc etc; the third is (genuine) generational incomprehension.

      1. Jo says:

        “visceral reaction”

        That’s a very unfair assessment of some contributions Mike and, if I may say, merely your opinion. That’s unreasonable of you.

        Many have made valid points about this article, I hope I have in my posts, without going the visceral route.

        Whether you agree or not, Christopher makes a judgement on Alex Salmond in this article. It comes through clearly even if he doesn’t come right out and say it. I just don’t think he has the right to do that.

        Also, he’s thrown so much into this piece that it’s difficult to cover everything when responding but he’s thrown the Me Too “movement” in as well along with his, “listen to the women”, advice. As a woman I completely reject what Me Too has come to stand for and I also reject the notion that anything a woman says now has to be right! That’s absurd. As a woman I want equality and fairness. I don’t want supremacy! If a man disagrees with me I’m happy to debate the matter. I won’t do a Rosie McGowan and go on Twitter to trash him as “mother-f*****” and have all my chums re-tweeting my vile attack on him in order to publicly trash him and damage him! That isn’t mature behaviour. At best it’s a tantrum and at worst it’s a chosen tactic this movement has deemed appropriate. For some women it isn’t appropriate, it’s disgusting and we want no truck with it. I think they’re doing great damage to their cause, our cause, by their appalling tactics. If you’re looking for visceral statements you should check out some of the things being said within that movement. They’re doing nothing to improve the lot of women. They’re just creating a lot of anger all over the place which, ultimately, helps no one.

        1. Hi Jo – I’m a bit unsure – are you saying a writer/journalist doesn’t have the right to make a judgement about contemporary politics and write about it in a political magazine?

          How does that work?

          1. Jo says:

            No, not saying that at all.

            My concern, and it applies broadly to what now passes for “journalism”, is that we don’t get news, we get the political slant which the person writing it wishes to put on it. For me, that corrupts the news. It changes the piece from news to political opinion and leads to the media being in the driving seat when it comes to misleading the public through the process beloved of Mr Blair…… known as “spin”.

            We get this daily now from just about every paper and broadcaster you could mention including, sadly, The Herald. That isn’t journalism. It is something much more dangerous and sinister. Those journalists who have caved in to turning their profession into one which can churn out lies at a terrifying rate are even lower than the political masters they serve. Their job is to hold governments, all political Parties, to account. They abdicated all responsibility for that a long time ago.

            On this Salmond business, I would take the view that the media has the right to report that a complaint has been made. What isn’t acceptable is for Christopher, or the more rabid “journalists” out there, to go on to produce pages of speculation, some of it even defamatory, which could prejudice the case and seriously interfere with the judicial process. I had thought we had laws in Scotland to deal with such offences. Apparently not.

            When the Daily Record screamed from the rooftops that it had received leaked documents from a confidential investigation by the SG’s Permanent Secretary into allegations made against Salmond , and went on to publish details, no one of importance said anything. Not the Permanent Secretary, not the First Minister. No one seemed concerned at all. Mr David Clegg, of the Record, did the rounds of newsrooms bringing everyone else up to speed on the leaked documents and wasn’t challenged anywhere on the subjects of prejudicing the case or interfering in the judicial process. Instead, these other “news” outlets started reporting the same details into the public domain along with “discussion forums” after the news item, in which Salmond was invariably found guilty. That sort of behaviour is just bonkers. It totally undermines the judicial process.

            That’s why I am disappointed that Christopher has indulged in the same sort of behaviour here.

          2. I think you are a bit confused – there is a real difference between news reports and comment or opinion writing. They are very different and we do comment and analysis writing on Bella. You may not like what the person has written – you may strongly disagree – but the POINT is that it’s their opinion.

            I don’t believe there is a defamatory statement in the piece, if there is please point it out.

            Christopher’s article puts the Salmond incident in the contact of Scottish male culture, which is an entirely legitimate thing to do.

          3. Jo says:

            It actually isn’t a legitimate move for Christopher to write any sort of “analysis” on this case involving Salmond. For starters he doesn’t even know if the allegations are true yet is writing as if they are and as if Salmond is guilty. No one of us can make that judgment because we don’t know.

            And, no, I’m really not confused between news reporting and opinion pieces. The point I was making earlier and will make again is that the “news” churned out now isn’t based on facts but on (someone’s) opinion. It’s “spun” to comply with the (political, usually) agenda of the journalist /newspaper /broadcaster running the story. That isn’t reporting the news, it’s messing with the facts and it’s a sell-out to journalism.

            A couple of weeks ago, “Scotland Tonight” did a thing on the Salmond case. They rolled out some people to talk about it. One was Shona Craven from The National. When she was asked about the leaks from the official investigation Ms Craven said the main concern should be that the leaks would not harm the victims. That was it! She didn’t express dismay about the Record getting chapter and verse about a highly confidential investigation. There was no concern for the accused or about interference in the judicial process. Nope, long as the victims were protected she didn’t seem to have a problem with the leaks!

            I called The National the next day. Shona Craven wasn’t available but I spoke to another person about my concerns. He said that Shona was expressing her own opinion on the Scotland Tonight programme and not The National’s. I explained that she’d been introduced on the programme as Shona Craven from The National. I was told, “Yes, but she just writes an opinion column here. It doesn’t mean she’s speaking for the paper when she goes on the news.” In which case STV maybe shouldn’t bill her as Shona Craven from The National in future. Maybe The National shouldn’t be comfortable either when she shows such little regard for the integrity of the judicial process and is concerned only for the accusers in a case where details have been leaked to the media. It’s not a good look for any journalist although, sadly, the signals being sent out from journalists all over the media suggest they don’t much care.

  38. Jeanne Tomlin says:

    Seriously? “Perhaps he might have found a way to live in someone else’s world, to allow a process to unfold before seeking to raise the stakes and add confusion to the mix with actions of his own.” So until the process of hanging, drawing and quartering him is ‘unfolded’, he is not allowed to defend himself.

    Sir, you are a dunce.

  39. john burrows says:

    The general sense I get from this piece is that Scottish men, in particular, are misogynists, and that we will only gain our national independence if they somehow surrender their masculinity. I surmise the piece was designed to baffle readers. To what end, God knows.

    I surmise he was inspired to write it after walking through Glasgow during the most recent Old Firm match, and saw a way of coupling it with his fairly obvious animus towards Alex Salmond. A kind of stream of consciousness exercise.

    Of all the copy that has been devoted to the current Salmond stooshie, this is probably one of the most bizarre takes I’ve yet seen. I tip my hat to its pointlessness.

  40. Willie says:

    Scrambled head is about the best you could say about this ramble of an article.

    1. Wullie says:

      Always a capital mistake to theorise when one has no data! but don’t let that hold you back. As for the fashion of women changing their name, this was an English import , there is no requirement to do so & many women don’t bother nowadays!

  41. Doghouse Reilly says:

    I think the author may be saying that it would have been better all round if Alex Salmond had shown more humility than pride.

  42. Charles L. Gallagher says:

    Is it not time that we dropped this topic as a long time ago it turned into a ‘nit-picking’ exercise?

  43. SouthsideFandan says:

    Tedious, dog whistle cancer. No wonder this site is fading into obscurity with this verbose clickbait trying to emulate the worst of Guardian identity politics.

    1. Our site just launched a feature section in a national newspaper, is about to launch a new book and has just completely our website, the longest standing pro-indy website around. We are not fading anywhere. Your language is disgusting.

  44. Charles L. Gallagher says:

    I read Jo’s comment as referring to Clegg, in particular, and undermining the judicial system. Sorry to say that after all the gob-shite in the Record in particular, if I ever found myself on that jury I would find him not guilty before any trial started due to the case having been undermined by Clegg and others.

  45. John Peters says:

    Reading this I am reminded of Orwell’s describing one particularly bad piece of writing as being like “tea leaves choking a sink”. The author is so consumed by hatred of Scottish males as a species, that he is unable to write a single coherent sentence. To be honest, it’s not worth engaging with the views expressed here – to the extent that one can discern any – but one thing that strikes me is that Silver feels free to write of Scottish men in terms that would earn him brickbats if aimed at almost any other group you chose to mention.

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