On 27 February Kezia Dugdale, MSP and deputy leader of the Scottish Labour party, tweeted
Dear SNP activists moaning about labour leaflets being printed in England, you’re building a Scottish bridge with Chinese steel. Love Kez.
I missed the beginnings of this mini-controversy but it seems that because the Labour party had some election leaflets printed in, shock horror, England they were fair game for at least some nationalists. They, of course, see something like this as proof of betrayal of Scotland and evidence that the Scottish Labour party is just a branch office of the ‘Westminster’ party.
Me? Simple soul that I am I’d say ‘What the heck? It’s one country still and why shouldn’t any party get any of its material produced anywhere it wants?’ One of the more astute responses asked where the SNP sourced all the knick-knacks in its online shop (key rings, mugs, T-shirts up to size XXL for the larger party member – that sort of stuff). Answer came there none of course. But I’ll lay £100 it’s not all manufactured by Yes-supporting businesses in not-so-bonnie Scotland.
The comment about the SNP shop was part of a substantial Twitter storm that followed the original tweet, with literally hundreds of responses. There were the usual for and against points made and the discussion quickly veered off, as it does, into all sorts of issues, some related and some not.
I was struck, as I often am these days, by the number of people contributing to the discussion who made their allegiance to the SNP clear with a twibbon, a hashtag, or a statement on their Twitter profile. I could not imagine doing that myself unless I were the member of a political party (see Disclaimer below) so assume that all these people are SNP members. If they’re not they’re getting a free ride without paying a subscription.
I thought I’d have a look at how the combined wisdom of those adherents comes over. I didn’t look at anyone who although clearly a nationalist, does not make their support of the SNP explicit. This, bear in mind, is about how they deport themselves, not an analysis of the substantive arguments they make. Those are few enough and mostly to do with the lack of a significant Scottish steel industry (to which one might add ‘bridge design and construction’). I have attributed comments and classified them to reflect their range and nature. The categories, as you will realise, are not mutually exclusive and there may, may, be a touch of levity in my treatment of a few of the comments. Some certainly deserve it although others do not.
- @scotsmum1966 – do your day job absolutely pathetic
- @hc1802 – Horribly spiteful remark from someone who is meant to gain respect from people [personally, I can’t see how the original tweet was ‘spiteful’] … you muppet
- @Selki13 – time to run to the BBC & Daily Record & scream about nasty cybernats again [she hasn’t as far as we know]
- @Rossmatthews86 – I do hope you are drinking Kezia, if not, your coming down with a serious case of the stupids
- @cgg2033 – numpty
- @PatricksPeople – Never the diplomat, always the mouth. Dance on Scotland’s grave, would you?
- @Rossmatthews86 – this is not a parody account. Kezia is that stupid.
- @teuchtermac – Murphy was at Uni for 9 years & still didn’t manage to get a degree.Kezia sounds same
- @katiec1314 – u can just feel the love emanating from her cant you. At least her dad has the right attitude [he is said to be a nationalist]. Must be so proud
- @Riddrie – I love listening and watching #DeputyDug #FunnierThanFualtyTowlers (sic)
- @JohnDowson66 – Dear Kez, you are a halfwit, Love John
Derogatory nicknames for Ms Dugdale
Others use some of these names as well.
- @hwperth – Deppity Dugtail
- @Froufrou42 – #deputydug
- @west_views – Dug
- @Hiram_1690 – Fifi LaBonbon
- @bawbabawbag2 – Who let the dug oot … put her bak in er cage
- @billyjYES – Dungdale you are a disgrace
Patronising comments, mostly ageist and sexist
- @scotsmum1966 – #Growup
- @MM0KNE – go eat yer cereal
- @HughesHouston14 – sad to say she’s just a wee daft lassie
- @MeabanBeag – dearie
- @JohnDowson66 – I’m deeply offended … and consider you a silly little kid
- @chezally – The word fae chez Dugdale is she’s grounded for the weekend and nae x-box for a week. Silly cookie
- @julieannaaitken – thank The Lord Ms Dugdale didny ask her dad! The SNP might have been lumbered with her
On the difference between Conservative and Labour
- @julieannaaitken – your unionist ilk shut down Ravenscraig. We had heavy industry, all destroyed by blue or red Tories
- @scotsmum1966 – disgusting contempt for the Scottish electorate
Not as much as I’d expected but still some.
- @Newpandaintown – my dad … was slavering pish about steel during indyref
- @Sharonwifey – good news is her dad has also confiscated her twitter so she can’t tweet any more shite…
- @Messcotti – You can cover a turd with glitter…
Accusation of trolling
- @dagwells – third rate trolling, must try harder [someone who’s unaware, or purports to be unaware, of what trolling really is. The original tweet certainly isn’t trolling]
Language to disparage Labour
- @jaggythistle3 – Liebour
- @Selki13 – #CreepyJim [Murphy, of course. Others also use this glib characterisation]
- @dishgirl4 – Give 2 fingers to Wasteminster & reopen the steel industry in defiance!
- @JohnDowson66 – @kdugdalemsp Yep, we will not forget the Thatcher years, and we will never forgive
- @GHunter74 – China own ALL metals and thanks to Tory they closed the last remaining steelworks in UK
- @ShettlestonAdam – We did have a place that made that steel but #bettertogether shut it down
- @mohawk_1969 – when you gonna stop voting with the tories anyway
Misunderstanding of politics
- @55depp55 – she’s on FMQs every week blaming scotgovt for alsorts! With no foundation from oil to NHS to Chinese steel?never stops whinging.
You’ll draw your own conclusions from all this. You might say that’s Twitter/politics, what do you expect? You might say, as others have to me, if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. Dugdale hasn’t, she’s stuck with it and let the ranters rant while staying mostly and wisely silent.
Like me, you might also observe how so many people play the woman not the ball, or the issue. And like me you might start to draw conclusions about the nature of the SNP and its membership. Of course, you won’t find the First Minister or the cabinet tweeting like this, although if you go down one notch to the backbench MSPs and MPs you can certainly find similar examples of graceless language and thought. I remember fondly Pete Wishart characterising me and the 55% who voted No in the referendum as ‘Nawbags,’ [non-Scots: play on the Scottish word ‘bawbag’ – scrotum] which he seemed to think equivalent to the social media shorthand ‘Yesser.’
A while ago I wrote about online abuse and nationalism, contrasting words Alex Salmond had used about the subject with a stance taken in very different circumstances by Jimmy Reid. You might want to have a look at the two approaches yourself. It’d be nice to think nationalists online took a lesson or two from Jimmy Reid. I doubt that they will.
Disclaimer: I am not a member of Labour or any other party. This article is not written in support of either Ms Dugdale or Labour but as readers of the No Thanks! blog will be aware, I follow the less attractive aspects of the SNP with a jaundiced eye.