2007 - 2022

Bonnie Prince Bob – a Surprise in Edinburgh Central

Our occasional collaborator and contributor Bonnie Prince Bob is running for office. That’s not a sentence I had expected to write anytime soon [see his previous; the brilliantly conceived What Was Done? from 2017; his all-time epic takedown Jim Murphy Saviour of the Union (2015);  plus of course his savage 2019 assault on festivilisation, There’s No Edinburgh in the Edinburgh Festival].

For an election approached by an exhausted and dispirited electorate – the highly marginal Edinburgh Central may now become a talking point in ways that no-one expected (see the other candidates here). 

In fact the rise of independents in Scottish politics may point to a breakdown in party lines as the constitutional deadlock breaks the feasibility of ‘big tent politics’ where party machines can contain individuals unified by a single political aim but containing a multitude of actual views.

You may not like the Bonnie Princes style, you might not agree with everything he says (I don’t) – but Bonnie Prince Bob is speaking to issues about social cleansing, over-tourism, chronic housing failure, sacrificing the politics of class and inequality to all others, and the professionalisation of politics into an anemic form of managed decline that have been swept under the carpet for far too long.

Edinburgh in particular has suffered under misrule (by all parties) for decades and anyone raising these issues are routinely treated with utter contempt for doing so.

I have heard none of the professional political class speak with any urgency or meaning on any of these issues. The rise of BPB may be a warning shot that the dull binary politics of turgid managerialism aren’t immune from disruption, even in Scotland.



Bella starts its coverage of the Holyrood elections next week.

Comments (29)

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  1. Graeme Purves says:

    Sadly, I don’t have a vote in Edinburgh Central. The Bonnie Prince raises important policy issues I don’t see other candidates addressing.

  2. PW says:

    This guy is a massive bigot in many ways, and is not a principled alternative to what he argues he is. This ain’t it, chief.

    1. James Forth says:

      What ways? Genuine question.

    2. Dave Dine says:

      You should offer more than a simple rant PW and at least attempt to explain yourself !

      1. seonaidh says:

        Why the casual anti-German racism?

        Angus Robertson is half-German, as are my own kids. My own family’s history is one of immigration and emigration – mostly from Ireland but also a grandmother of possible Roma origin. Would it be fair game for Bob to attack me on account of my Irish family history? No, of course not.

        His family background and ethnicity are nothing to do with it FFFS. Can’t Bob argue his points without this bullshit?

        Alex Arthur’s racism may have been more ‘crude’ but Bob’s art-school wank is still racism. He comes across as another loud-mouth radical – Satre says this… Neo-liberalism that… I don’t trust him at all.

        There’s also the practicality of Edinburgh Central – do we want Angus Robertson or the Tory?

  3. Mark Boyle says:

    The same Bonnie Prince Bob who called Wings Over Scotland a ‘Snake Oil Selling Charatan Piss Artist’ three years ago, and is now wanting Wings Over Scotland readers and supporters (now that Stu Campbell has been proven correct about Sturgeon and everything else!) to vote for him on May 6th 2021.


    Er, no, not this side of Hell.

    1. LOLs – I think Bob had the measure of poor WoS way back then but I can see how it wouldn’t have gone down well with StAnon

  4. James Forth says:

    I’m a fan of Bob’s videos and I even went to his event at the Star Bar. I am pretty sure I have donated to him.

    I’m perplexed by a lot of this though. Let’s start on the point of the campaign – he’s not going to win so it is presumably about raising profile for a cause. What cause does he introduce in this election that Alison Johnstone (also standing in Edinburgh Central) does not? The video mentions an opposition to the monarchy, over tourism and neo-liberalism. Does Bob seriously think Alison Johnstone does not also oppose those things?

    Next of all, does Bob understand how much of the energy and support for him online comes from the Nat zoomers he despises? Bob deplores politicians who represent corporate interests, but given that his most high profile backer is Craig Murray, is he going to disclose where he gets his money from? The comment about identity politics may have been a critique of nationalism, but I am scared a lot of folk (i.e. Craig Murray and his like) heard a transphobic dog whistle there.

    I’d be interested in your take, Mike, as you are one of the most consistent critics of StuAnon/Nat Zoomers.

    1. Mr Udnam says:

      “In 2020, she introduced a measure to grant protected species status to the mountain hare in Scotland, which was accepted on 17 June 2020.”

      I have to say that is a stellar list of achievements in the Scottish Parliament.

    2. Hi James – well the Ambassador and the St Anon cult will support anyone in this constituency for purely mercenary bad-faith reasons that are quite appalling. They have no interest and have expressed no interest in any of the issues that Bob raises.

      I’m not sure about your question about money, do you mean where Craig Murray get his from?

      1. James Forth says:

        My apologies, Mike. What I meant to ask is, is Bob going to disclose his donors? That is a pretty reasonable request given how critical Bob is of other party’s donors.

        Craig Murray is a rich man who likes to throw his money about. I would suspect that an endorsement like the one he made yesterday might be followed by a donation.

    3. seonaidh says:

      Good points.

      I don’t disagree with most of what he says. But how he is gonna achieve it? Why is HE trying to get his arse on the gravy train? Why not vote Green?

      I despair when I see another ‘radical’ and charismatic smooth-talker. How many over the years? Sheridan? Gorgeous George? Farage? Salmond?

  5. David kelly says:

    I have enjoyed everything Bob has done. I expect this will be no different.

  6. Keir Hardie says:

    The only chance he’s got of making a real difference is by helping the Tories squeak a victory. He’s chose to run knowing that, unless he’s so out of touch with reality that he thinks he has a chance of winning.

    1. Evan Alston says:

      That’s what it’s about.

  7. bjm says:

    Moray is not in Banff.

    Banff is not even in Moray!

    And Angus Robertson was a good MP in my opinion and streets ahead of the current D Ross.

    1. Insolence says:

      you need a history lesson re banff and moray

      1. Richard Easson says:

        I’ve never heard so much Bamff in my life.

  8. Alistair Taylor says:

    After having a wee look at the list of candidates, I’d be tempted to vote for the lass standing for Scottish Labour.
    She seems like a lovely person. Compassionate and caring.

    Angus Robertson looks (in his photo) like a fat porker that’s been at the trough for too long. Though, the same could be said of many career politicians.
    Anyway, blah de blah. Who cares?

    As someone else observed, BPB may help the Tories to win. Funny old world we live in, but welcome to the conversation.
    I myself am making no sense, so off for a walk in the woods and a commune with the ravens.

    Down with Boris (another trougher), down with nuclear weapons, hello environmentalism. Wake up, world. Though it may be too late…

  9. Ali Erginsoy says:

    Tory stooge.

  10. MBC says:

    Alison Johnstone is a good candidate who polled strongly in Edinburgh Central for the Greens last time. But unfortunately her strong showing was not sufficient to win. All it did was split the indy vote and Ruth Davidson took the seat for the Tories. If BPB stands as well and further splits the indy vote the Tories will hold the seat.

  11. SleepingDog says:

    By all means abolish the monarchy, but the majority of their proceeds of long-generational crimes should, in my opinion, be used to pay for reparations for colonial crimes and slavery, perhaps by part-funding community buy-outs of land in places like the British Caribbean.
    Or we could just listen to them.

  12. Leith Imposter says:

    BPB’s content is brilliant. I agree with the issues he would like to address, and of course he has a right to stand. I say good luck to him.


    – I worry this will dilute the vote and lead to a Tory seat in Edinburgh Central

    – Allison Johnstone of the Greens also stands for similar issues. She has a decent Stab at the seat.

    – This whole “Angus Robertson is an imposter “ message doesn’t sit easy with me. Not that it matters, but AR was actually brought up in Edinburgh. Suggesting that someone who is not from Edinburgh shouldn’t have a part in his running it is shaky ground to do down…..What message does that send out to someone who was a former Asylum seeker who may want to run for a seat ?

    – He is appealing to the Wings/Murray/Salmond Cabal. Not intentionally I’m sure, but how would he feel about taking their donations?

  13. An Duine Gruamach says:

    I’m not convinced there is or has been a rise of indepedents in Scottish politics, Mike. There have always been “too cool for the system” independents, single-issue independents, gimmick and joke independents and others standing at elections but I’d wait and see if one gets elected before calling it a “rise”. (Or indeed a R.I.S.E. ho ho). If I was mates with John Smeaton I could probably have written effectively the same article about him standing for the Jury Team in the Glasgow NE by-election in 2009, but he still only got 258 votes.

    In fact we’ve had a real decline in independents at Holyrood since Margo MacDonald, Dennis Canavan and de-facto independent John Swinburne sat there, the only independents since are those who have quit or been kicked out of the parties on whose ticket they were elected.

    I would in fact say that the opposite of your thesis is the case, that the constitutional polarisation around independence has reinforced party power at the national parliamentary level, far from undermining it. We all know that none of the ISP, AFI or whatever other SNP malcontent splinters will so much as register 1%, never mind win any seats, never mind point to any restructuring of the independence vote. We know yer man Bob won’t get in either, and neither will George Galloway. The number of votes needed to break into parliament is simply too high for anyone without the backing of a party machine and much, much higher name recognition than The Guy Who Complains About The Festivals On Twitter is ever going to get (MacDonald and Canavan, of course, both made their names and built up a substantial personal vote as party figures before they were independent. The same is true of Andy Wightman, who I also expect will not be returned to Holyrood this time). I suspect we will not see any breakthroughs for either independents or new minor parties this side of either independence happening or the independence movement collapsing to the point where it’s not a viable electoral issue for either side, as was the case in 2003. Even at by elections it’s now much, much harder for an insurgent independent or single-issue party to make any kind of headway, unless they’ve got Aaron Banks funding them.

    If independents are to have any kind of presence it will surely be at local government level, though even there the tendency for parties and the media to treat council elections as proxy votes on independence makes that a lot harder than it used to be.

    1. Interesting.

      There’s five that I know of: @NorthEastMSP @PeteKrykant_OPC @Craig4P @andywightman @discontent_scot

  14. Stuart Jackson says:

    I’d go for that. I wonder if I can get a vote if I register a carboard box as my address given it’s the only accommodation I could afford in the constituency.

  15. Nicola says:

    Andy Wightman spoke regularly and with passion about the problem of short term lets for tourism and the effects on housing in Edinburgh. Was he not part of the professional political class?

  16. Robert Allan says:

    I agree. The first priority of those representing Edinburgh and also Leith should be those who voted for them and not the rich profits that come via the exploitation of young people seeking higher education (which results in higher income and thus more tax for the public good) by means of tuition fees and housing costs that will take years to pay back, followed by the gravy-train of Festival income and also kickbacks from the awarding of contracts for civic infrastructure.

    I could say more about many other things, but it is good to hear someone speaking what appears to me to be civic pride and a ‘political’ responsibility that suggests social concern beyond the vacant boast of parliamentary power….

  17. tom says:

    Bob is a legend and a iconoclarst or something.

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