I IMAGINE most of the discerning readers of Think Scotland are not daft enough to get involved with Twitter. I came to it early in 2014, as the war of words during the Scottish referendum was gathering momentum. At times, it can be like a sewer, and I confess to having contributed some intemperate output myself. I have never, however, stalked anyone on Twitter, told lies about them to try to trash their reputation or accused them of criminal activity that they have not committed.
I now find myself in the position where this has happened to me. The reason for it is perfectly obvious: I campaign, and do so robustly, against Scottish nationalism and separatism. I do this from an informed point of view, reading what is said by various experts on finance and economics, particularly, and trying to induce separatists to consult these experts, rather than simply parroting propaganda from SNP HQ, ‘Business for Scotland’ (an SNP propaganda front organisation) and various bloggers and meme-makers whose output is solely geared to discrediting the United Kingdom, usually on the basis of lies. I would say that, wouldn’t I?
Separatists are curiously reluctant to read anything that disagrees with the version of Scotland and the UK that they have been fed by their handlers and propaganda masters. It is as if they are scared to have their preconceptions and prejudices challenged, and as if they don’t feel confident enough to defend their beliefs – for ‘belief’ is what they have, as well as ‘hope’ and ‘faith’. Forget evidence: all they can cite as ‘evidence’ is propaganda from their ‘trusted sources’, or long out of date newspaper articles. They have, of course, been instructed by their propaganda handlers not to consider anything that might conflict with the official SNP version.
For example, it is now a few years since one of the foremost analysts of Scotland’s financial and economic position, and the mythbuster-general of separatist fake news claims, Kevin Hague (@kevverage on Twitter), was anathematised by the fake reverend (aka the ‘Reverend’ Stuart Campbell of the Wings over Scotland blog, now deceased (the blog, not the fake rev) and dismissed as a ‘dogfood salesman’, because he had built up a successful business that performed a useful service. Separatists on Twitter all know to call Hague ‘the dogfood salesman’, because they have been told to do this; they have also been told to avoid Hague’s excellent blog (https://chokkablog.blogspot.com) and to disparage it whenever a pro-union person mentions it. This is because it is so full of well-informed rebuttals of separatist claims that the SNP cannot afford to have its supporters being exposed to it lest they begin to doubt separatist lies.
They come a bit unstuck, however, when it turns out that their handlers tell them that the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures are fake, made up by Westminster to show Scotland in a poor light and as an argument against their ‘independence’. In a part of that, they are right: the GERS figures (especially in 2021) do show that Scotland would be a lot worse off if we left the UK. But the SNP leadership, starting with Alex Salmond, through Nicola Sturgeon, Angus Robertson, Stewart Hosie, Humza Yousaf and others, made a point, in and around 2014, of telling us that the GERS figures were indeed authoritative and showed that a separate Scotland could thrive. That, of course, was when the price of oil was high, and revenue from taxation with it. The slump in the price of oil in 2015 meant that there was no revenue from oil in 2015-17, just when a separate Scotland would have been trying to establish itself, had the SNP won the referendum. We really did dodge a bullet.
The authorised version of SNP propaganda is pretty clear in my mind. I see it every time I am on Twitter. The language is pretty uniform – ‘How is Scotland uniquely unable to be independent?’ ‘Why does Westminster want to hang onto Scotland if we are costing it money?’ ‘None of the 50 (or 65) countries that have left Westminster have asked to return’. And so on. It is quite touching that separatist tweeters post these mantras in a way that suggests they are saying something original, when these and a lot more are on the SNP propaganda crib sheet, or app, and are routinely parroted by them in their dozens.
I have long been hated by these people because I challenge them and they have long wanted to shut me up. They have tried various tactics – writing en masse to my former employer to try to have me sacked, unaware that I was already retired. That hasn’t stopped a Twitter charmer, inappropriately called ‘bon animi’, claiming that I seemed ‘to have gone quiet after she was threatened with breaching her employment contract with UoE’. I’m retired!! I do not have an employment contract with anyone. And I have not ‘gone quiet’.
Then Mhairi Hunter, a Glasgow SNP councillor who was (perhaps still is) Sturgeon’s constituency manager, boasted on Twitter about having asked (told?) the Scotsman newspaper to have my letters and articles (of which four of the latter had been published) banned. The Scotsman obliged. And there have been various pile-ons on Twitter where a group of separatists has sent me identical insulting messages. But what has happened recently is of a different order.
A character whose previous two accounts had been banned by Twitter for violating its rules started tweeting about me being a ‘discredited professor’, and then progressed – if that is the right word – to tweeting a picture of me, that had appeared in the Times in 2014, alongside photos of Myra Hindley and Jimmy Saville. After much of this, with insinuations that I had much in common with them, he (assuming it is ‘he’) started to call me a ‘child abuser’ and ‘kiddy fiddler’. Then he claimed that the Israeli government regarded me as an anti-Semite. And then he asserted that I am ‘child raping antisemitic #DottledJill Stephenson’. He claimed that I ‘was arrested for child molestation’, and that I am ‘often mistaken for Myra Hindley…sometimes Jimmy Saville’. ‘Who harmed more children?’ he asked. ‘#DottledJill Stephenson or Jimmy Saville?’
One of his abusive chums (JK Yoonslayer) tweeted: ‘Does anyone have the dirt/truth about Jill Stephenson that was going around earlier. I think her followers need to see it’. A number of my followers did see it and complained to Twitter about it, as did I. Undeterred, he called me:
A gaslighting, lying, condescending, racist, narcissist claiming to be an ‘academic’. If she really is a ‘historian’, her Nazi agenda borders on criminal…. She should be starved of oxygen (metaphorically of course).
Well, it’s a step up from Ferox Bill who really did want me starved of oxygen for being ‘a traitor’.
Twitter, that has recently banned someone for unpleasantly calling a woman a ‘whore’, will not ban LaughsLonger, my stalker and abuser, for calling me a child molester and anti-Semite. Apparently, that does not violate their rules. That has been evident in its failure to ban the same account for a vile accusation of child molestation against a friend of mine. It is, apparently, OK to call me ‘the discredited academic that peers call “a Nazi sympathiser” & “the child molester and teenage girl beater”.
Why have I done nothing about this? Well, I have reported these tweets to Twitter, to no effect for long enough, and I am taking legal advice. After some days of this barrage of lying abuse, and many people reporting it, Twitter managed to lock the offending account, ‘after our review found some of the tweets broke our rules’. Hallelujah! It remains the case that ‘some that didn’t violate any rules may still be public, and the owner does have the option to comply with our instructions and get the account unlocked’. In other words, he can delete the offending tweets and return to launch at me, and others, abuse that is within the very flaky twitter rules.
There may be some of you who think there is no smoke without fire. I can safely say that I have no criminal convictions, not even a speeding ticket. I have not been arrested, let alone charged with any criminal offence. None of my peers has ever called me a ‘Nazi sympathiser’. I researched and published extensively about Nazi Germany for almost fifty years, and was a member of history departments in Glasgow and Edinburgh universities for forty years, finally as Professor of Modern German History at Edinburgh. I doubt very much that the Israeli government has ever heard of me, and no-one who is not a Scottish nationalist who regards me as an enemy has ever suggested that I am an anti-Semite or a child abuser. I tell this story to indicate the depths to which nationalists are prepared to sink to smear those who show up the utter spuriousness of their claims.
If the treatment I have endured can happen when we are part of the UK and are supposed to have the protection that that has – until now – brought us, just imagine what would happen to dissenters in a separate Scotland.