Them and us

Few people have more right to be bitter and angry than Michelle Thomson. Her treatment at the hands of the media and the British political parties has been quite appalling. And while her resentment against the SNP leadership is surely unjustified, it is understandable in the circumstances.

I too wish the party would show rather more intestinal fortitude in standing up for those in its ranks who come under attack from the British establishment’s propaganda apparatus. But I understand the difficulty and the risks in doing so. I think Michelle is mistaken if she supposes she was offered less support simply because she is female. That simply doesn’t seem credible, given what we know about Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP’s strong position on gender equality. Each case has to be dealt with on its merits. In Michelle’s case, the media witch-hunt was quite extraordinarily vicious and sustained. I suspect that, intellectually, Michelle knows that the party had to distance itself from that media-generated shit-storm even as, emotionally, she is hurt by the way she was treated.

With due respect to Michelle Thomson, and fully acknowledging the torment she has suffered, the underlying issue here is, not the differential treatment of women, but the anti-SNP prejudice that is rife within the British establishment. Michelle was singled out for a protracted campaign of hate first and foremost because she was an SNP MP. That her past business activities lent themselves to the maliciously emotive spin of unprincipled media was a bonus for a British political elite desperate for a way to smear the party that it regards as an existential threat.

Can there be any doubt that, had Michelle Thomson been a member of any other party, none of this would have happened? The British establishment is quick to come to the defence of insiders. And sets upon those it regards as interlopers with all the viciousness of a predator pack. Michelle’s crime was being Scottish, rather than British. Her offence was putting Scottish interests before those of the British state. Her misfortune was to be perceived as vulnerable. Scotland needs to get much better at protecting its own.

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About Peter A Bell

Thinker. Listener. Talker. Reader. Writer. None of my attitudes are immutable. None of my conclusions are final. None of my opinions are humble.
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8 Responses to Them and us

  1. Angus J Stewart says:

    Peter, I agree with most of your comments but you say “her resentment against the SNP leadership is surely unjustified” . I’m not sure that can go unchallenged as her BBC Scotland interview this morning made it pretty clear that the internal SNP handling of her case would indicate a fairly clear breach of the Human Rights Act – in that there was no clear process which permitted her the opportunity to put her case to the decision maker (the party leader according to the information she was apparently given). Natural Justice is a requirement in all disciplinary processes, something the party would undoubtedly claim to be everyone’s right. (Except, it would appear in this case, Michelle).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter A Bell says:

      What I was referring to was the political necessity of the action taken by the party. I would be happy to see an internal review of the procedures involved. There are always lessons to be learned.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ghillie says:

    Agree Peter.
    Seems to me that Michelle Thomson has been thoroughly traumatised by the hounding of the media she experienced.

    And in some ways may now be experiencing something like Stockholm Syndrome.

    Unless she finds the strength and wisdom to stay completely clear of that very media.then the abuse will continue. But like many an abused individual, she maybe can’t see it..

    Liked by 2 people

  3. grizebard says:

    Yes, I also feel that Michelle Thomson was particularly hard done by on all sides (the notable support of her MP colleagues excepted). It seems that the SNP, in attempting to maintain its high reputation against a veritable never-ending onslaught from the BritNat media, leans over backward to disassociate itself from any hint of impropriety. For little gain, since the media will distort everything anyway. (As they even seem to be insultingly trying to do again, now that Michelle Thomson feels free to speak out.)

    We saw the same kind of dissociation at play in Nicola’s response in Parliament to Kezia’s wild accusation against Stu Campbell and her attempt to use it to smear the SNP. Which is why it is important to challenge such tactics. For the sake of the whole Yes movement, not just for the sake of the SNP or one particular individual. Some people need to wake up and get their priorities right.

    I’m sure that lessons will have to be learnt. Including the SNP being more prepared to challenge the Unionist media and their insidious agenda instead of continually hoping to appease it. Like it or not, Ruth Davidson’s appeal to the publioc at large has been based largely on her perceived willingness to say forcefully what she (supposedly) believed. (Only time is revealing it all as empty self-serving posturing.) The SNP have a far more sound basis on which to proceed, but their representatives have to be far more assertive and self-confident in proclaiming it. And showing better solidarity with their own people along the way.


    • Peter A Bell says:

      You make an important point. I have often commented that the SNP is in an enviable position in that it actually doesn’t have to concern itself with what the media response will be. When you know, with something close to absolute certainty, that this response will be negative at best and downright dishonestly malicious at worst, you are freed from the need to take the media into consideration when formulating policy. You can just go ahead and do what needs to be done. No point in worrying about what the papers will say. You already know what they will say.

      This has been quite beneficial in terms of policy. The SNP administration has not been greatly deterred by the hysteria that greets every policy statement. They’ve been able to go ahead with legislation even if it is controversial. Or subject to a deluge of faux indignation from the British parties and their accomplices in the media.

      It occurs to me that the time has come for the SNP to take better advantage of the predictability of the British nationalists. If you’re going to get shit whatever you do, just do the right thing regardless. Every once in a while, you’ll come up smelling of roses. But the shit-stink will always stick to those who throw it.


  4. Hugh Wallace says:

    Peter, your reasoning is sound but I don’t agree that MT was treated at all reasonably by the party. Had she been questioned as a suspect by the police or, especially, charged with an offence then the SNP would have been quite right to dissociate themselves from her. But she wasn’t so their doing so smacks of cowardice I feel. Especially at a time when they had an overwhelming majority of MPs which inevitably meant they would lose seats at the next election anyway. Standing by MT would have been a relatively small risk in the circumstances, IMHO at least.

    I am becoming increasingly disheartened at the lack of boldness from the SNP leadership. I’ve always voted for them & I consider my vote to have been well cast but I am an increasingly reluctant member of the party & now that I’m more aware of the MT story I am considering sending back my membership card. Not for this incident alone but as the final straw. The SNP increasingly looks like a party of bureaucrats rather than a party campaigning for political change & the freedom of a nation & it’s people.

    I hope this is all simply the summer political doldrums but only time will tell…


    • Peter A Bell says:

      Whether Michelle Thomson’s treatment by the SNP was reasonable is a matter of subjective perception. From the party leadership’s perspective, it probably seemed like the right thing to do at the time. With the benefit of hindsight, the whole affair looks rather different. My own take on it is that the party was probably sensible to accept her resignation from the Westminster group. Where they went wrong, if that’s the right word, was in not supporting the MPs when they voted to reinstate Thomson. That was their chance to show a bit of backbone. And they let us down.

      It was a mistake. Nobody imagined these people were infallible when we gave them the job of running the party. We shouldn’t ignore the errors of judgement. At the same time, we should maintain a sense of proportion. And we must never lose sight of the fact that the real villains of this piece are the British media.

      Your remarks about a “lack of boldness from the SNP leadership” have a very familiar ring. I hear that a lot. And I tend to agree. I can understand the caution. But there comes a point where you have to fight back. My sense is that the party leadership are, perhaps belatedly, realising this. I think we’re going to see some fireworks over the coming year.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hugh Wallace says:

        Thank you for taking the time to respond, Peter. As per usual, you make very good points which always makes me think about the issue some more.

        Regarding your final comment about boldness; I will cross my fingers & hope that you are right!


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