Category Archives: Scottish Culture

A year ago today…

keep-calm-and-voteI voted No.

Am I sorry, ashamed, apologetic that I voted No?

Never in this life.

I don’t think anyone should feel apologetic or ashamed or sorry for how they voted in the referendum: we came together in the largest turnout since the 1950s, after two years of intense debate. Each of us voted, and. as agreed, we abide by the majority. Everyone who voted in the referendum voted rightly, whether it was Yes or No.

If I’d known on 18th September 2014 what I know now on 18th September 2015, would I have voted differently?
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Filed under Scottish Constitution, Scottish Politics

Smearing by Mensch, 4: conclusion

Louise Mensch on TwitterSince Monday I’ve been working on a three-part response to Louise Mensch’s blog of Saturday night.

  • Part 1 deals with Mensch’s distorted and dishonest assertions about Corbyn’s views on ISIS, and questions her claims of his involvement with CEC Australia.
  • Part 2 deals with Mensch’s declaration that Corbyn must account for attending commemoration events for Deir Yassin, any and all encounters with his constituent Paul Eisen, and whether an audience member is responsible for researching the political beliefs of a jazz saxophone player who is said by Mensch to be “one of the world’s leading anti-Semites”.
  • Part 3 deals with the theological and geopolitical complications of Stephen Sizer’s opposition to the anti-Semitic beliefs of John Hagee, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell, about Israel: Jeremy Corbyn’s defense of Sizer for posting a Facebook link: and briefly with Dyab Abou Jahjah.

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Filed under Politics, Religion

Smearing by Mensch, 3

Jeremy Corbyn is a backbencher Labour MP who was elected to Islington North in 1983. He has won every election in his constituency since then: he’s been in Parliament for 32 years. Most MPs have to travel back to their constituency at the weekends and somehow make time for a family life: MPs in a London constituency have more time to go to meetings and events. Jeremy Corbyn has been, everyone says, a very active MP. So how many people has he met in 32 years as an MP?

Without knowledge of Corbyn’s desk diary over the past thirty-two years, it is impossible to say, but, as a low-ball speculation, if Corbyn had been invited to speak at thirty events each year, where he was on a panel to speak with at least three other people, with an audience of fifty or so, over thirty-two years he would have been on the same panel as 2880 people, and 48,000 people could say “I was at such-and-such an event with Jeremy Corbyn”. That is an intentionally low guess: I think it likely, especially as Corbyn became known as a left-wing MP who consistently opposed the Iraq war, that he would have been invited to far more events than a mere thirty a year: and certainly many Stop The War events in London had audiences of far more than 50.

Louise Mensch on TwitterLast Friday night Louise Mensch – New York’s Sun on Sunday columnist, inveterate Twitterer, blogger, and occasional guest on Have I Got News For You, had an embarrassing incident involving a sewer, a screenshot, and a search mistake, detailed in part 1.

Mensch then took less than 24 hours to write a long blog of recycled smears and rage about Jeremy Corbyn on the Saturday night after her Twitter fail: part 2 is here.

The third part of this debunk deals with Mensch’s assertion that if out of the thousands of people Corbyn has met in the course of his work as an MP, even two are anti-Semitic, Corbyn must himself be tainted by association with those two and needs to explain himself.

In effect, when you think about the numbers involved, this kind of smear answers itself. As Owen Jones notes in the Guardian today:

The Labour leadership frontrunner, Jeremy Corbyn, has been a long-term supporter of the Palestinian justice movement. He could not possibly have known the personal backgrounds of every individual who has joined him at the many rallies he has attended over the years. Some of these people were antisemitic. And while the vast majority of people involved in the movement are – like myself – driven by a passionate support for self-determination, there is a minority that indulges antisemitic tropes. These ideas have to be defeated.

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Filed under Politics, Religion

Smearing by Mensch, 2

There’s a solid 19-point guide at the This-Is-Not-Jewish tumblr, on how to criticise Israel without being anti-Semitic. I have a quibble only over point 5: “Zionism is no more a dirty word than feminism.”

Feminism is the peaceful worldwide revolution for women’s rights and to end the patriarchy. Zionism is the movement, founded in the late 19th century, for the return of Jews to Eretz Yisrael / “the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel”.

The two are not the same. The equivalents would be the peaceful revolution to end anti-Semitism worldwide or the foundation of a matriarchal state.

The problem with founding a homeland is that in any habitable part of the world, there are people already living there. (The same tumblr also discusses this in how to support Israel without being racist.)

Deir Yassin was a village in what was Palestine. On 9th April 1948, around 120 fighters from the Irgun and Lehi groups (which were “paramilitary” or “terrorists” depending on your viewpoint) attacked the Deir Yassin village, killing over a hundred people, many of them women and children, and drove out the survivors.

In Kelvingrove Park, there is a plaque in memory of the massacre, unveiled on the 40th anniversary by the then-Lord Provost Robert Gray. At a memorial event on 7th April 2002, during Operation Defensive Shield, the STUC General Secretary Bill Spiers said:

“But in the midst of this brutal madness in Palestine there is a glimmer of hope which links April 1948 to April 2002.
“We know what happened in Deir Yassin in 1948 in part because of the eyewitness testimony of Jewish villagers, who had lived peacefully alongside their neighbours until the Zionist terrorists arrived. And more ­ the slaughter was actually stopped by courageous protesting Jews from the nearby village of Givat Shaul.”

Louise Mensch on TwitterLast Friday night Louise Mensch – former Tory MP, current Sun on Sunday columnist, and author of Sparkles, Glamour, Glitz, Passion, Desire, and Destiny, had an embarrassing incident involving a screenshot and Twitter’s auto-complete function, detailed in part 1. I am posting these as a series of debunking reports of the long blog Mensch posted on unfashionista the Saturday night after her Twitter fail.

Louise Mensch, like the Telegraph, started out seeing Jeremy Corbyn’s bid for leadership as a very good joke, since obviously Labour members and supporters would never actually elect him: and then as it became clear that he might just win, that Jeremy Corbyn could be Leader of the Opposition in September, Mensch and the Telegraph appear to be as one on this one thing: Corbyn must be stopped.

On Thursday 13th August, a follower responding to Louise Mensch’s tweet “Christ on a bike. Antisemites for Corbyn” coined the first use of the hashtag #antisemitesforcorbyn. (In the same tweet, he also coined #inbredforcorbyn and #thickasminceforcorbyn.)

Louise Mensch didn’t immediately pick up on this hashtag. Nobody did.
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Filed under Equality, Politics, Religion

Smearing by Mensch, 1

Louise Mensch on TwitterLast Friday night, Louise Mensch – former Tory MP, former novelist, currently a columnist for Rupert Murdoch (she took the trouble to praise Murdoch highly when she was an MP and the Murdochs were being investigated by Parliament for phone-hacking) – came unstuck in her hashtag-related attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn when she confused Twitter’s autocomplete function with Google’s autocomplete function.

Google’s autocomplete function, while targeted towards you based on your location and search history, gives you an idea of what other people are searching on.

Louise Mensch discovers her own search historyTwitter’s autocomplete function simply remembers your own previous searches. Louise Mensch had been searching Twitter for references to Liz Kendall (@LizForLeader) combined with “zionist”, “nazi”, “jewish”, “jews”.

When Mensch noticed this coming up in her Twitter autocomplete, she concluded the only reason someone would be doing this kind of search was because they were an anti-Semitic supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. She therefore screenshotted this and posted it on Twitter – to have it pointed out to her that she was condemning her own search history as a “sewer”.
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Filed under Equality, Racism, Religion

Susan Rae: Leith Walk and Hawick Riding

Susan Rae Leith WalkComfy in Susan Rae’s tiny sitting-room, in her flat at the top of Shrubhill, with a cup of tea, I ask her “So why did you move to Edinburgh from the Borders?” I knew she’d moved here seven years ago.

An American once told me, exasperated, “When I ask why you guys always say ‘Well, four hundred years ago – ‘”

This is of course quite untrue. Sometimes, it’s five hundred years ago.
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Filed under Elections, Historic Scotland, Politics, Scottish Politics, Women

Abuse online

Men get attacked for their opinions and their actions.

Women get attacked for their opinions and their actions, and also get attacked for being women.

Leo Traynor was attacked by the son of a friend, viciously and horrifyingly threatened over a long time: when he met The Troll face to face, the 17-year-old boy – confronted with the human reality of what he had done – burst into tears and could only say

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m sorry. It was like a game thing.”

Internet TrollLindy West was and is repeatedly attacked by many men who are bitterly affronted that a woman should question whether rape jokes mocking rape victims are either funny or acceptable. One troll decided to set up a Twitter account in the name of Lindy’s father, who had recently died, to tweet his insults and threats: he used a photo of her father as his Twitter icon. Lindy didn’t block-and-report (both Twitter and Facebook are notorious for regarding verbal harassment as not a violation of their “community standards”): she wrote about how that attack made her feel on Jezebel. (Her troll emailed her the next day to let her know that it had only just occurred to him that she was a human being with feelings, that he was sorry, and that he was quitting.)

There is a living, breathing human being who is reading this shit. I am attacking someone who never harmed me in any way. And for no reason whatsoever.

One of the things Lindy West said:

One of the pillars of conventional wisdom about internet trolling is that internet trolling just happens. You hear this all the time, from even the most progressive allies: Oh, well, it’s the internet. There are trolls. Trolls troll the internet. Rape threats are like oxygen. Whatareyagonnadooooo. So, I’m just supposed to accept that psychological abuse is built into my job and I’m some thin-skinned rube if I complain about it? Easy for you to say, Señor Rando. Not only is that framework supremely unsatisfying for me personally, I’d go so far as to say that it’s a dangerous and patently false myth. Internet trolling does not “just happen.” It is not some mysterious, ambient inevitability that affects all internet users indiscriminately.

Internet trolling is a force with a political agenda.

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Filed under In The Media, Scottish Culture, Women