In my recent SNP conference round-up I referred briefly to the continuing saga of the Brain family, and in particular the appearance of father Gregg Brain on the conference platform sporting a badge that was a parody of the badges the Nazis made various oppressed groups of people wear. My sceptical conclusion about the small pantomime played out on that stage was ‘First world problem. SNP put-up job. Move on.’ In one way I see no reason to resile from that judgement. But because so many aspects of this never ending story are intimately bound up with the SNP and the separatist cause it deserves continued monitoring.
Mr Brain’s use of the Nazi parody badge was bound to raise eyebrows and media interest. Sure enough, there has been an article in the Daily Express about the subject. The Express is not a paper I normally read and I deliberately haven’t sought that article out for this post. Luckily I don’t need to because a detailed transcript of Gregg’s exchanges with the Express has appeared on Facebook, placed there by him. And how much better to rely on his own account than an article in the right-wing, unionist, mainstream etc etc media.
First, a word about the page the exchange has appeared on – the Page for Positive Immigration, ‘… formerly Help the Brain Family stay in the UK’ (indeed its Facebook URL is still ‘…/BrainDeportation/’). It has all the appearances of being run by a group but like many such pages contains no names of people that might run or own it. It does however include this:
Now, as it happens, I can see an argument for positive immigration. But the few cases apart from the Brains the page has mentioned are all in Scotland, and I suspect all in the Highlands. It certainly won’t make ‘positive immigration a mainstream topic’ in its current format. If you scroll down the page it’s not long before you come across a selection of video clips and photos from the SNP conference, although you’ll struggle to find references to any other political party that is in favour of ‘positive immigration.’ You’ll also struggle to find more than a handful of references to anything or anywhere outwith Scotland.
Perhaps more curiously, a page that gives the impression of being a support group seems to have many of its posts written by Mr Brain himself. So for example,
- 22 October – Now, having done so much for us, I’m going to ask for more …
- 19 October – Our time in the media spotlight is well and truly over … [!]
- 18 October – As our situation proves …
- 17 October – …so we got this email today … “Dear Gregg Stuart Brain …
- 15 October – thank you all so much for standing with us through all of this.
In short, the whole thing seems to be written by the Brains. (As with everything else on this blog I’m happy to be corrected and will apologise if I’m wrong)
Still, as I said, it contains the detailed transcript of Gregg Brain’s exchange with the Express, which you can find here. So the good news is you don’t have to rely on my judgements about what he said and did, let alone those of the Daily Express. You can make your own. For what it’s worth, here are mine.
The whole ploy was desperately naive. You cannot draw a direct analogy and then deny it was one. Contrast
The badge was a facsimile of an Auslander Arbeiten (“Foreign Worker”) registration badge, familiar to any Poles who were allowed the ‘privilege’ of working for the Third Reich for longer hours, and at half pay – and eventually, as forced labour
I’m very specifically NOT comparing our experience to forced work programs or the suffering which occurred in that era.
The denial is neither logical nor sustainable (incidentally, I’m not sure the word ‘eventually’ would have been recognised by people who from the beginning were under considerable duress).
Interesting, anyhow, that he should claim he was
trying to demonstrate solidarity with EU citizens in the UK, largely Polish, who share a very uncertain future.
In what seems a long campaign to remain in the UK focussed entirely on their own self-interest, Scottish heritage, love for Scotland etc, I had not until this speech seen any reference from the Brains to the position of EU citizens in the UK.
It’s unfortunate that Mr Brain says the wearing of his badge
had nothing to do with Jews, who were persecuted via a very different programme.
Of course that’s exactly what people would conclude. It does look as if his understanding of what happened to European Jewry is based on a severe misapprehension that it was merely persecution under a ‘programme.’ It was of course genocide, the attempted extermination through murder of all European Jews. Even Wikipedia, which he’s keen to cite when justifying his badge, could have told him that.
The Express reporter asks Mr Brain three questions:
- Could you confirm that you came up with the idea for the badge?
- Could you confirm who invited you to the SNP conference to speak?
- Are you a member of the SNP?
They’re all highly pertinent questions many of us would like answered. Mr Brain remains silent on all of them.
Gregg’s contribution to the exchange ends rather plaintively
If I send a (short) statement, you will publish it in full?
As I said, naive.
The exchange as posted on Facebook attracted some negative comments, which have since been removed. One, from a fellow Australian resident in the UK contained sage advice:
Whilst there’s no doubt this journalist has misrepresented you, and I do understand why you chose to use the ‘F’ tag, I think your judgement is slightly flawed on this issue. Appropriating such a powerful symbol was not a great idea, as anything from that era is symbolically ‘loaded’ and likely to cause offence when used for one’s own purposes. It’s also worth bearing in mind that you only have a 12-month visa – this represents only a ‘stay of execution’, so I would seriously consider keeping your head below the parapet, as this kind of bad publicity has the potential to do great damage to your cause in the future, given that your current position is still pretty precarious.
Finally, and not for the first time, there’s a fundraiser for the Brains underway. I’m not including a link to it in case you’re tempted to contribute but I’m sure you’ll find it if you want. It’s promoted by ‘A McCandless,’ made slightly less anonymous as ‘very wonderful person … Tony McCandless’ on the Positive Immigration page on 15 October when Gregg Brain urges readers to contribute to a fund for … Gregg Brain and family.
I assume Tony is the same Tony who on his own Facebook page (complete, of course, with numerous ‘Yes’ logos) urges ‘the 120,000+ SNP members [to] show more care and compassion than the folk posting vicious, inaccurate and hateful messages’ i.e. he wants them to contribute to his fundraising. Here’s how it’s going so far:
I think that’s called voting with your feet.
I will be returning to this example of online begging in another post soon about separatist fundraising. Meantime, advice to Gregg, stop digging.