Futures

After a week in which details of my families past – including my deceased fathers divorce – was shared on Twitter by a pro-indy blogger in an attempt to smear me – I have been reflecting on whether I want to carry on with editing and publishing this website. I realise that given the nature of the appalling attacks on other people like, for example Mhairi Black MP , Joanna Cherry QC MP or Labour MP Jess Phillips , this is completely insignificant. I know that many woman in public life experience abuse as routine and I don’t for a second hold these things as comparable. But I do think there is a problem about our online culture, and its effect on our mental health. I do think that the democracy movement in Scotland needs to take this on board. We have become too used to a completely toxic environment. This is insidious and damaging.

I don’t believe for a minute that there’s nothing we can do about it, nor do I agree for a second that to address it is somehow an admittance of failure or awarding points to “the other side”.

People were quite rightly proud of the massive independence march through Glasgow last weekend. People spoke of how proud they were that the march (like all previous ones) was completely peaceful (despite provocation) and full of families and friendly positive energy. I suggest we take all of those aspirations and values and transfer them onto our online community. This is a case of re-uniting ends and means and rejecting the snarling macho language and tone that’s been allowed to misrepresent and discredit the independence movement. As the American writer Audre Lorde reminds us: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”

Somewhere along the line people have confused being aggressive with being radical, and its interesting that many of the most snarling online voices are also the ones that are the most timid and reactionary.

Since 2014 and before that, many people in this movement quite rightly mocked the lack of a positive case for the Union, the relentless, mawkish romanticism and backward-looking nostalgia of Anglo-British unionism. I think we need to make a positive case for independence to transform Scotland, and we need to break out of the echo chambers that we’re trapped in. That means speaking to people outside the circle of true believers and engaging with people that aren’t part of the sub-culture of Scottish nationalism. This should just be self-evident.

So, that’s what I’ll be trying to continue to do at Bella. We want to build a positive case: highlight concrete real-world examples of autonomy and self-determination; make solidarity with communities facing the consequences of the British state; and connect the movement for independence with peace and justice, ecology and socialism. In times of social and economic crisis and climate breakdown the only way forward is to try and create networks of maximum solidarity.

I don’t want to ‘Persevere’ in some stoic way that ignores the difficulty of the culture we inhabit. In deciding to carry on I need to exercise some self-care and again stumble across Audre Lorde: “I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.”

So I’ll be taking regular time out and offline, organising more live face to face events, continuing to collaborate and work with others and trying to open up this as a space for the many unheard voices and stories that need telling.

I don’t really do ‘personal’ blogs and I won’t be re-visiting this issue again, there’s far more important work to be done.

Thanks to the many people who have sent positive messages in support of Bella, it’s really astonishing and deeply appreciated.

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Donate here.

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  1. phil devitt says:

    i am glad you won’t quit. i know that the abuse can be upsetting and difficult to take, but the fact you are getting this sort of attention points to the fact that you are nearer to the truth than the abusers would like you to be. faceless abuse is not what we want in our strive for independance. stay strong.
    phil devitt

  2. indyman says:

    Please don’t give up on Bella this is an excellent and inclusive blog and I get a lot of useful information and inspiration from it.

  3. MBC says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of this Mike. You are an inspiration and keep me sane at times. I would be in a sadder place without your inspirational writing which is deeply appreciated. I’m not on Twitter myself or Facebook. Trolls are cowardly people who are ignorant and uncaring and have little idea of the hurt they cause. They are also lazy. Instead of getting off their butts and actually doing something constructive to advance the cause they just snipe and carp and let off steam online. It is just a way for them to let off their ignorant frustration. Face to face and they would be milder but the internet seems to remove any filters people normally have.

    I have just been reading in the Guardian about the efforts of anti-fracking protestors to halt fracking in Lancashire and Yorkshire and it is inspiring the degree of community mobilisation and imaginative campaigns that they had led against Jim Ratcliffe. Who says democracy and activism are dead? We in Scotland in the indy movement are apt to think we are more progressive than those south of the Border and certainly the 2014 campaign did see a number of activist initiatives take place – live events that were inspiring and the AUOB marches are seeing a revival of that. But I take my hat off to those folks in Lancashire and Yorkshire who for eight years have run very imaginative and really well organised campaigns, barely mentioned in the press, against a much mightier foe – INEOS, and are gradually winning the argument to the extent that the government agent resigned last week. This has been won by hard graft, not sour angry keyboard warriors spouting bile.

  4. George Gunn says:

    As far as I am concerned Bella Caledonia is a vital to the health and future of the independence movement. Of course the Unionists will attack all of us who advocate that Scotland should be a normal independent country. There is no need to apologise for being a human being, Mike. Those of us who contribute regularly to Bella know the work you do. All of us who work towards independence also know that we will have to pay a price – emotionally, professionally, the list can go on – so it is important that you do as you say – take time out of the office, delegate, protect yourself because you are needed. I speak for myself but I know others will share my concern. You have our support, respect and our solidarity. Bella Caledonia is a major part of the positive case for independence. Each gathering, march, rally, every little thing, brings us closer.

  5. Jo says:

    Attaboy Mike!

    Don’t play down what’s been done to you or compare it to something else.

    Those who resort to vindictiveness are sending out only one message….they don’t have anything worthwhile to say.

    Nothing wrong with robust debate but there must be lines and limits and standards. Those who don’t observe these things should be called out.

    Take care.

  6. Mike Vickers says:

    I am not a died in the Wood Independence Person but I do enjoy your editorials, so please stay on.

  7. Julian Smith says:

    Please, please don’t give up. Bella is one of the most valuable sources of information and inspiration that we have. Our opponents will be rubbing their hands in glee over any setbacks they perceive us to have. If there was a positive case to be made for the Union, it would have been made by now. Instead, all they can do is disrupt and rain on our parade. We mustn’t allow them to win.

  8. Josef Ó Luain says:

    By never having had anything to do with it, I’ve been sheltered from the apparent virulence of Twitter. The abundant weirdness inherent in the comments of Scotsman reading Empire-Unionists is sufficiently disturbing for me to have found much better things to do with my time. Your point regarding “equivalence of blame”, although in a quite different context, comes to mind here. Include me amongst those who’ve sent Bella positive messages of support

  9. Malcolm Kerr says:

    Stay strong, Mike. I can’t express just how important Bella is at this point in our history and emancipation. Your pieces, and the constellation of contributors Bella has attracted. Primo Levi said: “It is the duty of righteous men (I believe he meant ‘people’) to make war on all undeserved privilege, but one must not forget that this is a war without end”. Build in some recovery time away from the front line.

    1. Thanks Malcolm. Great quote.

  10. Michael says:

    Sorry to hear this Mike and I’m glad your are looking after yourself and plan to do more live events. I closed all my social media accounts last year after it became apparent to me that they were causing more harm than benefit in my life.

    In the early days of the internet, the digital environment was mostly built by university hippies and Free Software radicals. Unfortunately, corporations and the security services set to work building the internet 2.0 and rebuilt our digital environment with tools or our masters and run by their algorithms. Thus, although the digital environment feels cosy and convenient, it is very unlikely to serve us ordinary folk in the long run.

    I’d love to see Bella do more about this digital structural issue that is so tightly linked in with the issues of our toxic financial system and surveillance state. These linked issues are only likely to become a more insidious unless addressed.

  11. W T Low says:

    From my perspective, the independence referendum in Scotland was conducted in an appropriate manner and all of the discussion and debate in which I participated did not deteriorate into name calling and violence. Since 2014 and especially since 2016, the press and others, certain politicians, have suggested that those supporting independence conducted themselves in a manner similar to the febrile, even hate filled discussions, going on in the Brexit debacle. In this arena, there has been an enlightened source of calm and accuracy in reporting – namely Bella. Mike you have conducted yourself and your guest contributors in an exemplary manner and it would be a serious disservice to enlightened debate and appropriate conduct when discussing deeply important and often highly emotional issues were you to withdraw. Please consider the greater good, this publication is required for all. By all means, leave Twitter, whose existence beggars belief, and keep Bella going. You are doing a fantastic job and in the present climate a most essential service.

    Bill

    1. Alex Mitchell says:

      I agree totally with your comments, I have little interest in “anti-social” media, which in reality is more akin to mere gossip than valid communication. It is worth considering that some of the Trolls are in fact duplicitous and pretend to favour independence, in their efforts to undermine it.

      Mike, treat this irrelevance with the contempt it deserves.

      1. Jo says:

        “….some of the trolls are in fact duplicitous and pretend to favour independence, in their efforts to undermine it.”

        Hmmm, not entirely comfortable with that view Alex. You may be right of course but at the same time we cannot deny there is a problem. The Herald, for example, once was a great forum. It’s now pretty dreadful with people from both sides of the Independence debate regularly involved in insulting each other. (It doesn’t help that the paper in question has deteriorated dramatically too when it comes to journalistic standards. It’s almost unrecognisable.)

        It’s all a sorry state of affairs.

        1. Michael says:

          Of course “agent provocateurs” and “flase flags” are age old and we’ll honed strategies. We just need to go back 2,500 years to Sun Tzu’s highly influential and still relevant text, The Art of War, to confirm this. The strategies perfected by the machinery of the “state” during the Cold War – using a deep understanding of human psychology combined modern data management systems – have there roots a long way back into history.

          But if we still don’t like to believe that dark arts are used against us, GCHQ documents, covering it’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group), seem to suggest otherwise:

          “Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums. Here is one illustrative list of tactics from the latest GCHQ document we’re publishing today”

          The Intercep: https://theintercept.com/2014/02/24/jtrig-manipulation/

          1. Jo says:

            Michael
            I’m aware of all that. My point is that it’s wrong to suggest the pro-independence side is lily-white. It’s not. We should all call out bad stuff no matter which side it comes from.

          2. That’s all true Michael but it cant be used as an excuse for genuine issues about the politics or conduct of some Yes people.

  12. Simon Barrow says:

    Well said, Mike. Thanks for all you do, and for the great forum for insight and discussion that is Bella. Solidarity!

  13. Bert Logan says:

    Like Jess Phillips, who got to breaking point and then ‘broke down’. I can see why this is such a hard thing to tolerate.

    With unionists, its probably ‘par for the course’ – their abuse is legion, indeed almost mandatory – there are no sane arguments for staying in the UK.

    But for a pro independence ‘blogger’ to stoop and dig dirt, and abuse … yes, they are fewer than the union side has, but we cannot be perfect. The blogger is an imbecile, working at the unionist level shows this. Bella is too good, too important to lose.

    Walk on Mike, all we have is hope in our hearts.

  14. ∆ohn S Warren says:

    Mike,

    Very sorry to hear about the abuse to which you have been subjected. I am glad to say that I am among, I would suppose, most people; I haven’t seen it, and I trust this will be an end of it. I have however, always been struck by your genrerous tolerance towards all kinds of views expressed in the Comments section of Bella Caledonia; and I have always thought it was one of Bella’s, and your own greatest strengths; that you were open to Bella being a forum for genuinely open-minded, open-ended, civilised debate; in spite of Bella, editorially, holding passionately to very firm Left orientated views (many of which I have never claimed to subscribe to, in spite of being a contributor of articles for at least five years).

    It is very, very much to your credit, especially under the provocation you receive. The problem, in part is that the very open-ness of social media means that it attracts disruption, trolls and even false-flag operations (I think the last may be much more serious than is often assumed, although I do not have the evidence to support the intuition). In addition I have always deplored one element of social media: the ability so easily to hide the identity of the person responsible for the opinions expressed behind the simple ruse of using a pseudonym: it really couldn’t be easier to be completely irresponsible, or worse. I have never seen a good argument to defend the practice; in spite of the fact that there are perfectly reasonable people who use it, and condone it; it seems to me that the practice is deeply insidious, and pernicious to the whole fabric of debate. Mike, you have opinions and you honourably stand behind them; those who use a pseudonym can say what they like, but do not stand behind the opinions expressed. They can say anything. Why should we expect that such activity will not end badly, and pollute the atmosphere of debate on social media? Pseudonyms simply provide open-season – a free hit in complete security from personal criticism – for all those with malicious intent, or who simply do not care (provided they are secure in their anonymity), or are representative of hidden interests, whch do not wish to be discovered. Indeed it encourages the casual and even vicious expression of the unacceptable, because there are no consequences; no requirement to be responsible. I deplore this. It is unacceptable.

    It will be said that if pseudonyms were banned, people would simply resort to false names. This is true (although it says little for the integrity of those who would do it); but it is also one thing to use a pseudonym where the culture to do so is conventional; quite another to conduct a deliberate deception. In the latter case the credibility of the deceiver lies in ruins if the deception is discovered. I also belief ther would be much more intense scrutiny of vicious comments, and more liklihood of discovery; not least because they would stand out from the crowd. Currently they do not; because it has become conventional, even routine.

    Websites would do much better to be much harder on trolls; and those who feel they have legitimate reason to use a pseudonym (genuine whistleblowers), should require the use of the pseudonym to be sanctioned by the editor of the website on which they intend to comment; editorially decided by the nature of the comment they wish to make, that requires the appeal to a special status; everything else is humbug.

    Bet wishes, Mike and I am glad to see that you intend to carry on.

    1. John S Warren says:

      The name on that comment should read – John S Warren. I complain about pseudonyms, then cannot even write my own name!

    2. Hi – thanks John – yes its a difficult challenge moderating opinion and trying to allow us much room for dissent as possible whilst still holding people to behave decently.

      On the issue of our editorial we do have firmly held beliefs (you might have noticed) but share this as a space where different views can be part of the conversation. For example I dont agree with David Jamieson about Europe, but its still an important perspective to hear, I dont agree with Rob Brown about the currency, but I’m happy to hear his perspective. There are many other examples and I think this confuses people sometimes, but I think its essential to have a diversity of views being discussed.

      1. John S Warren says:

        Well said. That simple articulation of editorial principle is what makes Bella Caledonia special. May you, and it thrive.

  15. Graeme Purves says:

    I believe Twitter can play a positive role in democracy as a robust and irreverent Greek chorus, but there is far too much nastiness there at present. There should be no place in the independence movement for aggressive abuse, bullying and intimidation, threats of physical violence or the deployment of information about relatives to mount personal attacks.

  16. Charles L. Gallagher says:

    Hi Mike. I don’t always agree with you, in fact, I think you promote manure some times but you have as much right to do this as I do, so long as it stays within the bounds of accepted decency, which your pieces always do. As for ‘Social Media’, when people berate me for not having such an account, I simply tell them, ‘Life is too short and my BP is too precious to me’.

    Mike, keep fighting for an ‘INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND’. Could at this point remind everybody no matter wether, their political views are left, right or center that our PRIME OBJECTIVE is INDEPENDENCE and bickering among ourselves is just playing into the yoons game.

    1. Thanks Charles, plenty more manure to come …

      1. Ann McAlpine says:

        Ha ha ever the gardener Mike, keep smiling.

  17. Jane Fraser says:

    Please keep writing, but also please take care of yourself. You matter to a lot of us.

  18. Willie says:

    First and foremost it has to be recognised that overall the Indy movement is positive and good natured.

    A few morons do not make up a movement, and there will always be agreesive morons whatever the environment.

    But let us not forget either the genuine and justified resentment felt against a universaly hostile MSM and state broadcasting corporation to match.

    Nor let us forget the total and utter disregard the British state has for democracy in Scotland. How many of us have felt bitter bitter resentment against that.

    Resentment turns inevitably to hostility if the cause of the resentment is not addressed.

    One only needs to look at Northern Ireland to see that.

    Maybe our good natured politics is going to turn.

    Airbrushed from the MSM or portaryed as some else, would it be unfair to say that the 100,000 who matched were nobodies of no consequence. In fact nobodies who should never have been allowed to march in the first place.

    Or a majority of SNP MPs and an SNP parliament who count for diddly squat.

    Don’t give up editor, but it’s no surprise that some of the morons act the way that they do.

    But the real threat against you may come from the British staye because you Sir and your ilk, like the marchers who marched when they shouldn’t have, are a threat to the Great British state.

    NICRA know that! And yes, in the colonies they used to hang people in trees as an example.

  19. Jane Kelton says:

    I’m so sorry you were subjected to this sort of viciousness. Fair play to you for all you do, gach beannachtaí, and wise writing on this subject. Mind yourself. Audre Lorde is right. Always grateful to see Bella Caledonia in the inbox, it’s one of the best online news and commentary sources out there.

  20. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    I should like to add my support for you to those expressed eloquently here.

    This site has in many ways improved journalism in Scotland and has shown what is possible and what, I hope, will be more comon in an independent Scotland. I hope you will persist.

    Sadly, amongst campaigners (whatever the campaign is about) there are some nasty people who misguidedly believe that only they know THE TRUE PATH to achieving whatever the campaign is about and that if anyone tries to insert a caveat, of a nuance, or an alternative, then they are subject to the kind of nastiness which you have experienced. Robert Burns characterised them as ‘the unco guid’.

    The majority of independence supporters are decent humane people (as are most unionists, too) and, in the face of nastiness we have to raise our heads and look to see that these decent people exist and support you,

    All the best. You have provided a sterling service.

  21. Sandie Blair says:

    Mike,
    I have been meaning to donate to Bella for such a long time.
    Will get on to it now.
    Your articles and appearances at events have long been an inspiration to me and many others.
    You are an important voice in the debate and cause. Take care, rest up when you need to.
    Cheers Sandie.

    1. Och, thanks so much Sandie, very kind

  22. Daniel Raphael says:

    What you have described is the reason my fledgling blog has no place for comments; there are too many trolls and other destructive forces that come through the
    door– not to mention, a comments section with any restrictions of civility requires hours of effort to keep it within bounds. I’m glad you will continue; there is reason that Bella Caledonia is the first in the Recommended Sites portion of my blog. While naturally the quality of writing varies, it is generally excellent and the range of subjects and styles makes it an unfailingly interesting place to visit.

    Thanks for your persistence.

    1. Thanks Daniel – what’s your blog?

      Our comments section is worth it but its true it needs a lot of work.

      I think our writing varies because we mix professional journalist and writer and new writer alongside each other. Sometimes that works and sometimes its a bit jarring I know.
      Also sometimes I write poorly and sometimes better.

      1. Daniel Raphael says:

        I didn’t specify the blog because I thought, given the subject of your originating post that responses to it should avoid undue self-references.
        Since you ask, it doesn’t seem shabby now to mention it: bunkunin.com
        It is very new, as you’ll see. The lady you designed it was, as it happens, someone who had designed a site for one of your contributors, which is how she came to my attention. So you see, Bella Caledonia did a good intermediary service, without specific intention.

        By the way, I frequently tweet articles from here, and have several arty friends who are quite smitten with your inclusion of culture and art. Please continue!

        1. It looks really great – well done!

  23. Rob Gibson says:

    Power to your positivity. Scotland will be free to flourish as we plant the sweet seeds for success.

  24. James Alexander says:

    May I join in the chorus of those who applaud your decision !
    Here’s to you!

  25. Richard Easson says:

    Non enim propter gloriam, divitias aut honores pugnamus, sed propter libertatem solummodo, quam nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit.

  26. Amanda Brown says:

    Know the feeling, time out is good
    I try and Come back stronger

  27. L McDonald says:

    I’m sorry this has happened to you. I deleted my twitter account for the reasons you state, it’s an echo chamber, and not a massively well informed one at times. Reading the posts was really starting to make me anxious and upset.

    The independence movement is gaining strength and, also, gaining more and more vitriol from the very people who should be banding together rather than snarling at each other over semantics.
    The run up to this next referendum will be a constant bombardment of negativity (too wee, too poor etc) and quite frankly, if we can’t rise above it and look at the bigger picture post-independence than why bother? The introduction of a diverse, Scottish, political landscape will be a relief and it must be supported and with it, the diversity of other’s current political opinions to enable us to help people change their minds based on what’s best for our country in the long run. Alienating people because they are not supporters of the current independence parties is short sighted and self destructive.
    Keep writing please. It’s a great publication and very much appreciated.

  28. H Scott says:

    Good to know you are continuing Mike. Bella adds something unique and valuable to our politics.

  29. Jenny Tizard says:

    Bella is really important. And I love the way it includes diverse voices compared to most sites, including people from outside the Central Belt, discussion of Gaelic issues, green issues and a safe and welcoming forum for women. Thanks so much for this. It makes a difference.
    Please look after yourself though. Take time out. Ask others to share responsibility. Take care.

    1. Thanks Jenny – the things you mention are supposed to be central – but I sometimes wonder if anyone notices any difference, so thanks for noticing

  30. Derek Henry says:

    Mike,

    You are doing a fantastic job go away and have a break and come back refreshed and fighting. I can’t believe you’ve allowed twitter to get under your skin you must be running on empty. I’ll tell you my life story over a beer one day that will put a spring in your step. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

    Believe me after we have won independence you will look back at all of this and we’ll have a good laugh about it. That’s what life is looking back in time and being able to laugh at it no matter what gets thrown at you. I promise you looking back in 20 years time reading this post it will feel very different if you can even remember it.

    Crunch time of Scottish independence is coming up over that hill Mike. Like moving the deck chairs around the titanic or playing Runaround with Mike Reid in the 80’s. Choices have to be made and people have to be held to account or praised for the decisons they make. A prime example is Alex Salmond and his currency choice and his debate with Darling before the last vote.

    Will we all end up with true independence or a faux independence ? That’s the question on everyone’s lips or will we end up with Independence at all.

    The only question you have to answer to nobody but yourself is which one will you end up with the choices you make. It doesn’t matter about anybody else or what anyone else says. Those choices are yours and yours alone. Your friends and family and readers of Bella will make their own choices.

    Once the decision has been made you have to be prepared when all is said and done to live and die by that decision and if your choices over your time at Bella Caledonia leaves Scotland with a faux independence you have to be prepared to admit it. If your choices over your time at Bella Caledonia leaves Scotland with true independence then you made the right choices.

    The choices we make applies to all of us we can’t run or hide from them. Everything else after that is in the hands of fate.

    Dust yourself down, recharge the batteries and come back fighting and see this twitter episode for what it really is. A right good laugh over a beer 20 years from now.

  31. Robbie says:

    Mike you are an inspiration to me and my family ,we would be lost without the clear and joined up thinking you put down in black and white about Scotland and our hopes for the future, look after yourself,

  32. Frank casey says:

    I seldom respond to articles being content to read and be informed, but on this occasion I will make the exception. You have done the movement much service and I earnestly hope that you will continue to do so for a good while yet. All the best to you.

    1. That’s really kind Frank, thank you

  33. Colm B says:

    Mike,
    I’m a regular Bella reader and your own contributions are a particular inspiration – you articulate a principled radical democratic left-wing perspective in a rational and clear way. I understand how the twitter attacks would make you feel and I agree that it is important to protect yourself from such harm but I really think you should stick with it: your perspective is far more representative of the pro-independence left than those who’ve attacked you. Take care and as they say in Ireland “Beir Bua”

    1. Oh wow “Beir Bua” – yeah lets do that…

  34. Mike Fenwick says:

    It’s 2015, I met you for the first time Mike, and you asked for my thoughts on Bella, this is how I replied:

    It’s about knowledge and conversation, its about meeting people, and in most instances individuals I will never actually meet face to face.

    People who know something about a subject I know nothing about.

    People who widen my knowledge of something I thought I knew well.

    People who invite me to alter my perspective, to look at matters through their eyes.

    It’s about listening, its about understanding (as best one can) – and being able to respond if that is appropriate.

    4 years have passed, and I would not change one word – take very great care of yourself, and of Bella!

    1. Thanks Mike – it would e great to connect again

  35. Dougie Harrison. says:

    Mike, I’m delighted that you’ve decided to stay with us, despite your unpleasant online experience. I refuse to join any social media site, a deliberate choice because so much of what they are used for is negative, if not poisonous. Nobody should be allowed to attempt in a cowardly way to damage others. But alas, it’s the world we live in now. Sticks and stanes etc… but sometimes words CAN hurt, and can cause damage.

    Your words above made me realise how much I value Bella, including its occasional platform for policies with which I disagree. Sometimes, even at my age, a logical argument can convince me to change my view. Discussion is essential to democracy. So Bella is a vital component of the movement for the decent Scotland I wish my grandchildren to inhabit. And your words on this prompted me to go to the link above to commit myself to giving Bella ongoing financial support.

    But I discovered I am unable to do that. You require a mobile number before my direct debit can be confirmed… why, I have no idea. Sorry pal, but I refuse to own a mobile. My laptop allows me to access what I need to online, when I need to. I am a pensioner, do not have a fat private pension scheme, and have no need or wish to support company profits by paying twice for internet access. Somebody somewhere has decided that this apparently renders me unworthy of supporting Bella financially every month.

    So, sorry to raise this with a man who has enough problems right now, but please realise; there are decent human beings around who do not possess a mobile. Please don’t disenfranchise us from financially supporting Bella!

    With best wishes, Dougie Harrison

    1. Your words and support are quite enough

      PS send me a cheque

      1. Dougie Harrison says:

        Mike, sorry pal, I no longer have a cheque book. And I wish to make monthly payments, as I know a regular income upon which you can depend, is better than the odd lump of cash thrown at you.

        I suggest you amend the requirement for a mobile number. I know a surprising number of people who like me eschew the use of mobiles. No sensible left cause can afford to deliberately disenfranchise potential donors.

        Dougie Harrison

        1. Alistair Taylor says:

          Ran into the mobile phone thing too, but will try the bank transfer option.
          Thank you for Bella Caledonia site, Mike.
          Very informative and thought provoking.
          I particularly like how you raise awareness of the environmental issues that confront us all.
          Clean air, water, food, and shelter. What more does a person need?
          (Ok, love, connection, compassion, empathy, etc. also)
          All the best, take care.

          1. Wul says:

            Just type “0123456789” when asked for a mobile number on line. That’s what I do and it usually works.

  36. Andrew says:

    “the democracy movement in Scotland”.. Audrey Lorde, oy vey!

  37. Andrew says:

    Always look forward to your articles. Always succinct and to the point. May not always agree but your take is always welcome. Keep up the good work for the cause.
    Best wishes.

  38. Kevin Williamson says:

    Well said Mike. It gets tedious fending off the haters, bigots, ranters and ragers. Some people see only a glass screen not the humans on the other side. But despite the snarks Bella continues to be a necessary shining light in Scotland’s progressive Indy community. Consider a beer on the tap for ye anytime soon. Aw the best and more power to yer pen. Kev

  39. Chris Cook says:

    Keep up the good work.

    This insight of Robert Pirsig in his great “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” gets to the point……….

    “You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it’s going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”

    1. Och Chris – Ive not read that in a long time – I may pick it out again, thanks

  40. Fay Kennedy says:

    I am sorry to hear of your distress. I am far awa in Australia and your outpourings help keep me sane. Your writing brought me to Scotland in 2014 and had the pleasure of being a part of that amazing time where I met the most generous and dynamic people; your good self in particular though for only a few short moments. I share Bella with others at every opportunity and would be devastated if you were to leave. In this land downunder there is nothing that compares with the enlightened and thorough discourse you initiate along with your cohorts. They are all worthy but you are the man as far as I am concerned anyway. Take care of yourself it is vital that you do for many many folk are inspired and encouraged by your articles.

  41. squigglypen says:

    Grin…yer gettin’ under their skin..
    I was subjected recently to a tirade of why we shouldn’t be independent and how they HATED Nicola…etc..etc…Oh I was delighted….success!.. as they crawled oot from their wee hideyholes and snarled…and then crawled back in…..
    I thought of the Bruce who despatched his attacker at the start of Bannockburn…while all his guys watched. What was going through that man’s head? Was he feart?
    Nah I imagine he thought …I’ve nae time for this nonsense…whack!..noo let’s get on wi the battle and freedom for Scotland..
    So Mike .. axe at the ready?….an of course yer cheque for sweeties is in the mail…

  42. Douglas Scott says:

    Dear Mike
    I am appalled at these attacks on you and the stress is has caused you.
    Please be assured that in my own way as a subscriber and occasional financial contributor you will always have my support and admiration for what you give to society through your dedication to a free press and thought provoking articles
    While it is easy for me to write and ask you continue with Bella Caledonia I would appeal to you not to let this type of low life get to you nor to give up what has been a stunning history of magnificent journalism.
    Do not forget that you inspire hundreds if not thousands of people.
    My very best wishes to for good health and happiness
    Douglas

    1. Thanks very much Douglas, that’s amazing and kind words, your support is very much appreciated

  43. Jim MIlls says:

    ”Illegitimi non carborundum ” , Mike !

    Don’t agree with some ( well , a lot ) contributors , but have sent a wee donation . In a democracy we need to hear lots of different voices .
    I am impatient for independence but we need to treat each other with respect in doing so – or we are lost !

      1. Charles L. Gallagher says:

        Jim, sorry pressed send by mistake, I think it should have read, ” Nos Illegitimi carborundum ”?

    1. Charles L. Gallagher says:

      Jim, it’s a long time since I studied Latin but should it not read, ”Illegitimi nos carborundum ”?

      1. Jim MIlls says:

        Maybe , Charles , but this is the only version I know !

  44. Airconditioned says:

    Doxing should be a prosecutable offence, especially if it concerns family members. Chin up, don’t let the bastards grind you down:

  45. Wul says:

    Please don’t pack it in! Bella is about the only source of reasoned journalism that I have.

    Sorry, that was selfish of me. Look after yourself first. I once read research that showed that a cohort of successful leaders had one thing in common; they all put their own well being at the very top of their agenda. You first Mike.

    Thank you for all your hard work, I’m very grateful.

  46. Gashty McGonnard says:

    Self care is more than an act of survival. When opponents are trying to shame or dishearten you into silence, it becomes an act of resistance and a small victory in itself. There’s no shame in a temporary and tactical retreat.

    Bella is vital, partly because it presents the bigger picture, beyond the grubby point scoring of news media and the twittersphere.

    All the best, Mike. Play the long game and don’t let them grind you down.

  47. Jim says:

    Think you are one of th great commentators Mike, hope you continue for many years

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