Clipped Wings


Stuart Campbell, editor of Wings Over Scotland. Deplored by the right wing of all political parties as too wee, too weak, and too poor to defend the disenfranchised, which indeed he is in all respects, but that hasn’t stopped him trying

Illusory free speech

Wings Over Scotland, the “low grade propagandist” site, (according to Michael White of the illiberal Guardian) got into a spot of bother. It had its Twitter account suspended all of a day and a night. (By whom I’ll name after this introduction.)

Most newspapers and columnists announced the suspension incorrectly as a ‘ban’, wishful thinking on their part. Honourable journalists complained it was undemocratic. Those keen to have their idea of justice implemented laughed.

Yeah but no, but yeah, but no

All manner of pundits and opinion formers felt compelled to preface their not-above-the-shoulder flag waving with the sneaky caveat “love him or loathe him”.

The public has to be reminded, for we are truly stupid, that a political figure might not be liked by some quarters of society, especially those Campbell criticises for their brazen falsehoods and their cruelties. They might like what he writes but would never be seen choosing drapes with him.

Despite being so patently loathsome, Stuart Campbell, editor of the site, is “essential reading”, a case of, we tolerate people like Campbell to show we are terribly fair-minded.

How to make a non-compliment

Do they adapt their mean-spirited crap for other people in the public eye?

“Picasso, love him or loathe his misogynist portraits of naked women with both eyes on one side of their face, he’s a great painter.” Or how about, “Love or hate her crass impersonation of Maggie Thatcher, there’s no doubting strident Theresa May takes her new job seriously.” Or worse still, “Love or loathe lesbianism, each unprepossessing leader of Scotland’s opposition parties is doing a fine job of holding the SNP to account.”

The more you treat readers as dummies to be given an opinion rather than letting them form their own the sillier it gets.

Why do journalists feel it necessary to tell people what to think? Like the colonial mentality of Michael White, could it be they see themselves as high-grade propagandists?

When did libertarian become authoritarian?

The source of the ban issued from an extremely ‘low grade’, and over-wrought, Daily Express hack to whom concocting wild exaggeration is her entire career. Her prose is akin to drunk Jackson Pollock tossing oils from paint pots in all directions.

As I am apt to remind, an exaggeration is a lie.

The hack in question, Siobhian McFadyen, knows how to work a policing system to her advantage. She spat at anybody who suggested she calm down. She’s the troubled kid who screams, “Don’t touch me, you paedo!” when endeavouring to separate the oik from a playground fight. The little sod hopes you’ll retreat in case you get tainted. Errant children have learned the trick of accusatory slander.

A hack on the wrack

McFadyen claims to be Scottish, and probably is, but her name is the Irish female equivalent of ‘Patrick O’Toole’.  I dropped three one-sentence tweets into her time line, always in the third person, my way of showing disapproval without being accusatory. I was taught early never to write anything about anybody that you wouldn’t say to their face. And anyhow, even a bat crazy harpy has the right of reply.

In her effort to besmirch she managed to imply the crudity of the Wings’ emblem, (an unresolved design) is a proto-Nazi insignia. The emblem is a frizzy haired lion sitting astride art deco wings, as if it has a paw caught in a live power socket.

Nevertheless, tired of that well-worn gibe thrown at Wings by the pig ignorant, I sent McFadyen a photograph of Jaguar car’s hood ornament, the one used before the more familiar leaping predator.


An early Jaguar hood emblem. The ‘SS’ stands for Swallow Sidecars, owner Sir William Lyon’s first company, a name he thought inappropriate for racy sports cars

A flash in the cess pit

Though I knew the site would be reinstated as swiftly as it was closed, for the complaint had absolutely no basis in reality, you could see a suspension of Wings Twitter coming a mile off. It’s an easy target. And I can predict worse is to come. It’s the way of MI5, and hacks who work for our ‘intelligence’ services that keep dissent controlled.

Campbell is not scared of words, especially lewd expletives. To the casual reader crude language must appear unnecessary, and defamatory, as bad as some of the gutter trolls who inhabit the denizens of the spirit world, determined to keep civil rights a matter for Westminster to dispense or withdraw on a whim. They know Campbell’s existence is the tetanus jab to their rabid cause. He has a rare ability to interpret complicated statistics and graphs, lampooning government concocted versions created to fool the population.

Nevertheless, when you take into account the growing influence of the site, it’s massive readership, and the incessant attacks made on its integrity to silence it, you can understand why he blocks so many with a simple, “Fuck off!” However, that’s his Twitter site. He never uses crude language on his political analysis public website.


You can sense the SNP applauding Wing’s tenacity and naked honesty, but keeping well back. It doesn’t pay to be too close to untamed mavericks, the old disease of upright institutions. If correct in that observation, it’s a shame they do that for they would do well to employ him as an antidote to unionist lies.

Then again, Campbell is not a member of the SNP, doesn’t vote SNP, and the site not politically aligned. He is a former Lib-Dem supporter now rootless, lost in his humorous make-believe world of bear-infested Bath where he lives and works, and appears to thrive on a diet of teeth curling sugar injected drinks.

Doing good is often hated

The Wings site has done a tremendous amount of good for the democratic process in terms of open participatory journalism, hitherto non-existent in Scotland. Jeering at hypocrisy is standard fare. It’s unswerving in its mission to lay bare contradictions uttered by our politicians, and expose the hidden agendas of the British establishment. Its work is unparalleled.

I see no reason why an editor should not call the sputum of a foolish hack “an utter disgrace”, or a fabricator of political untruths a chronic liar, and for that matter, a scooped spade what it really is, a bloody shovel.

But sometimes I wish Campbell wouldn’t give free ammunition to the adversaries of Scotland’s ambitions. And then I think, more power to your elbow.


Mark Zuckerberg knows where you live

The real story – it’s censorship, dumbass

Few newspapers noted the troublingly obvious.

The owners of Twitter gave no reason for the suspension or the reinstatement of Wings. They acted as über-editors. Twitter and Facebook – that censored a Vietnam war photograph not once but three times – have become the most powerful editors on the planet. This is a deeply worrying development.

The famous 1972 photograph of a group of people running away from a US napalm attack, one naked little girl in their midst, the skin on her back scorched and peeling, appeared in an essay on Aftenposten’s Facebook page, (Norway’s largest circulating newspaper) in an article about photographs that altered public opinion.

Facebook wrote to the editor of Aftenposten demanding the publication remove the image from its Facebook page – declined to wait for a reply, and removed the image before Alfenposten could respond.


Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg. Oh, look, a female first minister of a small country

Censorship cannot be justified on the basis it protects public taste

Furious at the censorship, the editor of Aftenposten wrote a front-page letter to Zuckerberg, rebuking the social site for its inability to “distinguish between child pornography and famous war photos”.

Espen Egil Hansen continued, “I am upset, disappointed – even afraid – of what you are about to do to a mainstay of our democratic society. I am worried that the world’s most important medium is limiting freedom instead of trying to extend it, and that this happens in an authoritarian way.” [Slightly abridged.]

After a sustained furore that included a widely broadcast protest from the Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg – unbelievably her post was also deleted – Facebook reinstated all the posts and the picture. Zuckerberg, self-styled libertarian for free speech, turns out to be a bit of a dictator.

Bullshit has wings

With the exception of The National newspaper, no intervention was made by the editors of our ‘Better Together’ UK newspapers on behalf of Wings, or by our First Minister. Quite frankly, that isn’t good enough. We elect these people not only to protect us, but our democratic outlets too.

In full sarcastic mode, BBC Television’s Brillo salesman, and self-style Chief Jerk, Andrew Neil, posted, “What a loss to civilised and informed discourse”, perfectly exposing his vanity and insecurity in one neat sentence.

Your privacy belongs to others

By what authority are Internet giants set over and above the electorate and governments? How are they to be sanctioned by law for breaching civil rights, other than reacting to  public outrage?

An hubristic journalist seeking revenge for some perceived hurt is a minor annoyance compared to the power of mega-wealthy media owners, harvesters of lonely Internet souls. Facebook and Twitter have become Purgatory, the place where you must wait indefinitely until judged innocent or guilty, or agree to purification.


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12 Responses to Clipped Wings

  1. Great piece. Spot on.

  2. Andrew McLean says:

    Exactly, well said.

    But one small criticism, you have mentioned the words, hack, Journalist and Siobhian McFadyen all in the same piece, is this a deliberate attempt to suggest that she is either a Hack or a Journalist?

    If so, I isn’t buying Man, by no stretch of anyone’s imagination can she be called either! She is in fact a new beast in the newspaper industry, for want of a better word I will call her a clikabator, a revenue generator, “O brave new world, That has such people in’t!”

    Don’t think this is a attack on Siobhian, after all she is the future of the industry!
    A propagandists’ and pornographers pin up girl!

    Dirty Desmond will be pleased by her exposure!!

  3. davidmccann24 says:

    Great analysis of the storm in a hissy fit!

  4. Grouse Beater says:

    Much obliged for the timely guidance. Still chuckling.

  5. Bob Mack says:

    Andrew Neil takes the biscuit. Informed discourse?

    He spends all his time trying to obtain that very thing in political interviews, with politicians he knows damn well are either lying to him blatantly, or evading a forthright answer to his points, which have generally been researched not by him, but for him via his staff.

    I have never heard him having informed discourse with any, other than guest hacks who offer an interpretation of what was said.

    Informed discourse. My ass.

  6. Grouse Beater says:

    I don’t understand how he feels able to make public his private opinion, (and anger) as a BBC employee, or freelance employed by the BBC. It brings the BBC into disrepute.

    He makes inaccurate assertions, gets challenged, and then ridicules those who dare speak back. Why make public statements in the first place?

    Clarkson was on the carpet a few times for less, Neill seems a free spirit.

  7. Macart says:

    Well said Grouse. 🙂

  8. Davy says:

    A very good article, its covers the subject from all angles, great work.

    Regarding the picture of the girl in Vietnam back in 1972 , I remember seeing it in the news at the time, I remember the reporters empting their water bottles over the child’s back to try and relieve her pain, I can’t ever remember anyone trying to insinuate that this was a child porn picture ever.

    I am 58 now and I was 14 when I saw that scene/image with my family, I have never forgotten it, I don’t think I can.

    The world never should.

  9. Grouse Beater says:

    I considered reproducing the photograph as part of the essay, but in the end felt it isn’t central to the topic. Other than that, I agree with every word you’ve written.

  10. twathater says:

    Great and TRUTHFUL words and sentiments, unfortunately they will not be absorbed by the uncaring and ignorant of which there are too many, people have to waken up to the truth, thankfully the WOS site and other independent journalists like yourself are helping in this regard, more power to truth and freedom

  11. trispw says:

    Excellent piece. Thank you for your analysis.

    I see that Neil is to be replaced on the Daily Politics show. ‘What a loss to civilised and informed discourse’, you might say, until you discover that Sarah Smith is to be his replacement.

    Plus ça change, plus c’est pareil.

  12. Grouse Beater says:

    I hope it illuminates events.

    I’ve a follow-up ‘Clipped Wings 3 – The Revenge’ ready for this weekend, but might publish it tonight. As for Smith, she’s wan and ineffectual as an interrogator. Pleasant as I am sure she is – I’ve met her socially – I’d still criticise her for her deficiencies even if she announced she supported independence.

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