AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SNP AND THE WIDER SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT.

In writing this joint statement we, the undersigned – bloggers and other influencers in the campaign for Scottish independence, affirm our commitment to independence and to the unity of the independence movement in its entirety. It is not our aim to cause discord or to encourage members of the SNP to cancel their memberships. We hope only to raise our concerns and to ask that the Disciplinary Committee and the leadership of the SNP reconsider their decision, and we hope sincerely that the contents of this letter will be taken seriously and in the spirit in which they are intended.
Yesterday the decision was made by the Disciplinary Committee of the Scottish National Party to rescind the party membership of Gareth Wardell, the well-known and much respected author of The Grouse Beater blog. This decision was made as a result of an article he published addressing the issue of the GMB, a London-based trade union, acting in Scotland to deny people their democratic rights. Owing to the author’s reference in the blog to the Nazis’ attitude to trade unions in the 1930s and 40s and his quotation of the term “the Jew” – in the context of citing Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf – the leadership of the GMB union accused him of making an antisemitic attack on Ms Rhea Wolfson, who, unbeknownst to Mr Wardell at the time of writing, is herself Jewish.
We agree without reservation that antisemitism and all forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination are always wrong. The campaign for Scottish independence is an open and inclusive social and political movement which welcomes the participation and activism of everyone who believes independence is the best option for the future of our country. However, after much discussion and careful consideration, we do not accept Mr Wardell’s contribution was indeed anti-Semitic or racist or discriminatory in the least. It is our firm belief that his words were deliberately and opportunistically taken out of context and weaponised against him and the entire movement in a concerted attack by the union, members of the Scottish Labour Party – to which the GMB is affiliated, and elements of the anti-independence tabloid press.
Frustratingly, this unjustified accusation was taken up by and supported by a number of high-profile people in the SNP – most notably Ms Fiona Robertson the SNP’s national women’s and equalities convener. In an article published on her own blog titled: Holding Ourselves to Our Own Standards, she made the claim that “most people… are not people who have enough background experience of anti-Semitism to make that judgement.” Yet she herself, without any qualifications in racism or antisemitism in particular, is – apparently.
Misquoting and wholly misrepresenting Gareth Wardell, Ms Robertson went on in her piece to offer a somewhat problematic definition of antisemitism and from this establish her case that Mr Wardell was sending out a “dogwhistle” to anti-Semites and racists:
The explanation is as follows: if you are writing about a union leader who is Jewish, bringing up Hitler’s view on unions – that they were dangerous because Jewish people controlled them – and

then specifically talking about the Jewish union leader implies a link. Otherwise there is no reason whatsoever to start quoting Hitler. It essentially says ‘Hitler believed that Jewish people controlling unions was bad, and this person is Jewish and is controlling a union in a way I don’t like.’ The link between those two dots is ‘so maybe he had a point’.
“Bringing up Hitler’s view on unions,” even when speaking to a Jewish person, is not in and of itself anti-Semitic. This is at best a tenuous grasp. Gareth Wardell at no point claimed unions were dangerous “because Jewish people controlled them.” This much is a serious misrepresentation of the point he was making. On this Mr Wardell was clear; that this was Hitler’s view, and that the Nazis used this pernicious belief in order to undermine and attack trade unions – which Mr Wardell describes as one of the “cornerstones of democracy.” Ms Robertson concludes this argument by suggesting that Mr Wardell’s conclusion is that “maybe [Hitler] had a point.” This assessment, sadly, suggests only one of two things; either Ms Robertson has failed to understand the article she is critiquing or malicious intent. The Grouse Beater article implies no such thing.
It is reasonable to conclude, given the position of Fiona Robertson in the SNP, that her opinion has become the uncritically accepted opinion of the party’s leadership and has therefore informed the judgement of the Disciplinary Committee and its decision to expel Gareth Wardell from the party. We, the undersigned, hold that both this judgement and the decision to cancel Mr Wardell’s membership of the party are unwarranted and utterly unacceptable. This decision undermines freedom of expression within the party and the movement, and seriously damages the trust that we depend on, that the party will not dispose of us in order to satisfy a perceived need in the political leadership of the movement to appear above reproach.
Signed (28 November 2018):
Barrhead Boy
Craig Murray
David Hooks (PoliticsScot) Gareth Wardell (Grouse Beater) Jason Michael (Jeggit) MacAlba
Mr Malky
Tommy Sheridan
Tradasro
WeeDetour

Peter A Bell

28 thoughts on “AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SNP AND THE WIDER SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT.

  • This is a very well presented and balanced response to the SNP’s expulsion of the Grousebeater. If they had investigated this wholly, including the type of blog Gareth produces then they might not have rushed into that Judgement. Time to take another look!

  • I do not know Gareth Wardell other than having seen tweets under the name of Grouse Beater and have always considered his contributions to be well balanced and professional. This is clearly a case of Scapegoating being the easy option to put a tricky matter to bed. That is completely unacceptable and the SNP must reconsider this matter.

  • I left the party a while back when they tried to control what I posted on social media. An ordinary member and private citizen yet harangued for 90 minutes in an extraordinary phonecall from a high profile party official. The branch I belonged to were also well versed with the disgraceful behaviour of Murrell and his minions at HQ. They used to sweep all complaints under the carpet(not acceptable) , and now seem to have gone full circle throwing members under the bus at the first flash of a tabloid hacks credentials.
    I will be Indy til I die but will never again be part of the SNP. At the risk of upsetting my many friends who are , they do NOT care about their members , they want your activism , they want your shoe leather pounding the streets , they want your money , but they will cast you away like garbage and never look back.
    Grouse Beater has been treated dreadfully but he isn’t the first and he isn’t the last. Fiona Robertsons part in this is despicable and she clearly isn’t fit for office.

  • I think this letter is excellent and reflects my views also.
    I am a free spirit and will never be silenced,by anyone.
    Always a Yes person,In this case SNP is clearly wrong in this decision,
    They should apologise for their actions.Grouse beater is a great blogger for the cause,
    When we start silencing our bloggers,then SNP need to take a look at themselves..

    • It’s very important to realise that many people are now waking up to the kangaroo court being run by the party because Grouse Beater has a profile . This is not an isolated incident , it’s happening more and more. I personally know several people who have been bullied into silence and others who have had genuinely serious matters swept under the carpet by the party hierarchy.
      If any good can come of this incident it will be the mass realisation that Indy is bigger than the party , nobody needs to be a member to support our freedom , in fact I openly encourage them not to be. Blind allegiance is what they want. Imagine getting rid of a loyal member because you are afraid of the gutter press who hate the SNP anyway.
      Stronger for Scotland? I think not. The Indy movement is far bigger than the SNP.

  • Couldn’t agree more with this letter I’ve voted SNP all my adult life and joined the party in 2014, I seriously considered cancelling my membership over the Grousebeater affair but I’m desperate to see an independent Scotland and we need the SNP to deliver that, It’s time the SNP stood up for their members/supporters instead of throwing them under a bus the minute some winging unionist claims victimhood or faux outrage

  • I whole-heartedly agree with this piece. As an SNP member, I find that this was done despicable. The ‘facts’ were obviously deemed inconvenient.

    Well done to all those who added their names to this for standing in solidarity with some-one wronged.

  • Being 60 years old and more worldly wiser than a certain SNP MS Fiona Robertson.
    The judgement accorded the grousebeater is one off union appeasment and kneejerking nothing more nothing less.
    As an SNP member I sign this letter. As I find that I cannot in any honesty sit back and watch a party I have voted for since I was old enough to vote would sit back and watch a man being singled out on this. We all know that the Nazis hand ghettos,food rationing,water and electric rationing, shootings for sport.
    In a way the news from palastine is showing a race who felt revulsion at the massacre’s of loved ones between 1933 – 1945 are now letting a section of the ones who died in the above decade do the same to another race ok gas ovens not used but forced home evictions, border shootings etc.. and SNP sit back without a word while god fearing Scots try not to let history on the above atrocities be dismissed.

  • I as an SNP member back this open letter. GrouseBeater should be re-instated, I don’t for one minute think he is anti-semitic. He took a quote from a book which anyone can buy and has been taken out of context. He is an excellent Blogger and the SNP needs good people like GrouseBeater

  • Please add my name to this letter. I too am a member of the SNP, albeit a recent escapee from Labour. The zeal of the attacks on Grouse Beater shocked me, and my reading of the blog at the time, and since, has not changed my opinion which is that the “dog whistle” link cited by Ms Robertson and others is tenuous at best and my reading of the text is significantly different.

    It seems to me that the “anti-semetism” claim has elicited a panicked response from the Party. The hierarchy has seen the damage done to Labour over that issue and is determined to make an example of Grouse Beater to demonstrate its liberal credentials. Unfortunately, it has emphasised the Party’s draconian treatment of anyone that may provide a target for other parties or public opinion. It is clearly their right to do so, but what it is actually does is to signal that the Party wants, in fact demands, your loyalty, activism and passion, but that loyalty and passion will not be respected or supported in any way in return.

  • I think that this is a Gestapo like action of the part of the Disciplinary Committee. I read the article in question and found that there is absolutely nothing Antisemitic in it. I fought Antisemitism in a church congregation of which I was Minister in Canada in the late 1980 and early 1990s. I wrote an article for the New Brunswick Law Journal which was used by the lawyers representing the victims in a case before the Supreme Court of Canada.

    Gareth must be reinstated and the Disciplinary Committee and party leaders must apologise for this wrong that has been done to him.

    I do not want to be a member of a political party that uses a Gestapo like court to silence a member for what seem like personal grudges or vindictiveness on the part of his accusers. If Gareth is not reinstated and does not receive an apology, I will discontinue my membership of the SNP.

  • Please add my name. I’m not going to go down the road of others, castigating individuals or the party per se, simply because I have no personal knowledge of this or previous events. I did read the blog and did not interpret the Hitler/Jew reference as being remotely antisemitic, and I adhere to that opinion in light of the ‘explained allegations’. I heard the party’s decision with incredulity. Sheer and utter disbelief. I just couldn’t understand how they came to their conclusion. I don’t suppose I ever will.

  • A really poor decision by the Disciplinary Committee and by the party hierarchy as a whole. The latest of several such incidents over the last year or so. Party HQ may consider that it shows the party taking decisive action, but it seems more like HQ running scared of the slightest sign of opponents inventing fake politically motivated outrage. Weakness rather than strength.

  • I agree it was wrong what happened to grouse beater but cancelling SNP membership is exactly the reaction that the British unionists want, you can say SNP should have thought about that before they took action and I agree but still it is wrong to cancel membership of SNP.
    The most important thing to us all is Scottish independence and allowing the British nationalists to seize on what they see as a rift in the independence camp is folly.
    Writing a letter of protest was fine ,it was the right thing to do but be Yong that just plain silly and plays into the hands of the people you are always complaining about.

    • Well said Terence our opening paragraph was explicit we all believe in Independence and the SNP is our best vehicle to achieve that goal.We also stress we are not asking anyone to give up their membership.Indeed we not only want Gareth back in we would love to see lots more people joining the Party.

  • Reading the letter and other comments ,given that the Labour Party suffered badly from tabloid and other types of attack about Semitic comments etc perhaps in hindsight Grouse Beater should have been a bit more circumspect in his comments.I agree it was not a blog that should have led to a disciplinary hearing.The SNP is a political party fighting all the way against tremendous odds against it and they do there best to keep of messages to a minimum for obvious reasons.My message is Independent Scotland is the target so let’s get behind the party and Grouse Beater and argue afterwards.

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