Wings has done the full Icarus – flown too close to the Sun and plunged into the deep blue sea.
This is a short update on a previous STAGE LEFT post: https://stageleft.blog/2021/01/27/is-wings-broken/
As the Reverend Stuart Campbell turned his fire away from unionist parties and on to the SNP, his blog Wings Over Scotland became more of a menace to the YES cause than the anti-indy camp. Was it too late to get our old Wings back?
Yes, it was. In the longest suicide post in history, The Ship Song, Stuart closed down his website. Or, as the Herald tweeted, Bath man pulls plug. (Campbell lives in Somerset.)
His adieu came 5 days after the Holyrood election that saw an increase in seats for the SNP and Greens. Campbell had attacked them relentlessly, urging his readers to cast their constituency vote for unionist parties instead. Meanwhile the party he championed, Alba, won 1.66% of the list vote and no seats.
Stuart was – is – a very good writer. He knows how to pursue a coherent argument, how to turn a phrase and where to put the apostrophes He was blistering and effective at calling out the NO side for its shallow arguments, partial facts and broken vows.
He was merciless as well as forensic. His style was wilfully brutal (I will kill you with hammers) – though, personally, I didn’t see much wrong with his Rabelaisian profanity.
But the invective turned vicious to the point of bigotry. He became obsessed with attacking the SNP, vilifying anyone who showed a scintilla of disagreement. Just a few of the milder insults: scumbags (the Greens); racist midget (Patrick Harvie); truly epic idiot, appalling dimwit, less intelligent than cheese-on toast, pitiful intellectual void (SNP members) and useless waste of space, worthless coward (Nicola Sturgeon).
Right or wrong, prescient or hubristic, loved or hated, Wings painted itself into a corner. Short of a crushing defeat for the SNP and a triumph for Alex Salmond’s party, things couldn’t end well.
It’s quite the political journey. Lib-Dem before starting Wings, Campbell became the scourge of unionist parties – especially Labour – then anti-SNP. Where will he go next?
Predictably, if understandably, some spat out Good riddance! But I think the YES movement needed Wings – as it used to be – and will need such strong voices again in the renewed drive for independence.
Faced with a largely orthodox, antagonistic media, we lack a robust rebuttal outfit. The SNP seem reluctant to take on that role. As the governing party, maybe they shouldn’t be expected to.
We’re bound to look to online campaigners for tough, lucid and sharp analysis of the political battlefield. Above all, we’re going to need something to put the fire back in our bellies.