By Roddy Macdonald
As the storm in a teacup that was the utterly contrived Susan Calman "abuse" and "death threats" stooshie was subsiding, Tom Peterkin of the Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday obviously thought he'd stoke the flames of Cybernat Hysteria and get in touch with Dr Gavin Bowd of St Andrews University. On 5th May they published the article Academic Gavin Bowd Calls Police After Online Abuse.
This hilarious article which is almost beyond parody kicks off:
AN ACADEMIC has been issued with security advice by his university and has been in contact with the police after independence supporters subjected him to a barrage of threatening abuse on the internet.
The head of security at St Andrews University took the step of advising Dr Gavin Bowd on his personal safety following the vitriolic online reaction to an article he wrote, in Scotland on Sunday, exploring Scotland’s relationship with fascism.
The revelation that the university had taken the precautionary measure came last night as the Yes Scotland chief strategist warned campaign supporters that those who “let poison drip through their keyboards” are one of the biggest barriers to referendum success.
So we've established that it's those horrible Yes Men that poor Dr Bowd needs protection from. What advice has the Head of Security given?
Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Bowd said he received “common sense” tips from the university security chief that included “looking out for people who are looking out for you”.
He said he was told to “look out for pinch points. You might be going to a lecture, leaving a lecture. There may be someone who’s waiting to get you. So there was all that very practical information on how to look after yourself.
I wonder if the impressively-titled "Head of Security" / "Security Chief" is SAS trained? Could he protect Dr Bowd from Salmond's fearsome Guerilla Legions? Did he issue Dr Bowd with a Personal Protection Weapon (sidearm), give him defensive driving lessons and train him in Kung Fu and anti-ambush drills? Would Dr Bowd be introducing himself in future with "The Name'sh Bowd, Gavin Bowd"?
It seems probably not because the Head of Security / Security Chief is actually the University Estates Manager (Heid Jannie) Extn 3967. Maybe that's why the Heid Jannie advised Dr Bowd:
The head of security also asked Bowd if he wanted to get in touch with the police. The academic said he would in order to be “safe rather than sorry”.
Were the black Range Rovers sent screaming up the M6 from Hereford brimming with weaponry and SAS men? Was the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBRA) alerted? Not quite:
He was then contacted by an officer, who told him to alert the police if he experienced anything suspicious.
Can you imagine the bemused conversation in St Andrew's nick when the call came in? "Sarge, we've got a right one here wanting a bodyguard to protect him from sinister, hard-men Cybernats coming down his internet cable." "OK, I suppose I'd better call him back once I've had my cup of tea and Tunnock's teacake."
To the University's relief, the poor, embattled Dr Bowd would not be fleeing the country or taking refuge in the basement of the Ecuadorian Embassy, as:
"I am not Scotland’s Salman Rushdie, at least not yet."
Phew! But hang on, "at least not yet"? From what quarter does Dr Bowd consider a Fatwah may be issued in the future? Cardinal O'Brien can't issue one from either side of the closet door. Is it the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland he's afraid of? The head-honcho of the Wee Frees or the Wee Wee Frees? Is the Imam of Edinburgh Central Mosque a member of Yes Scotland?
It must be hellish being a fantasist trying to flog a book! Yes, dear reader, that's what this is all about. Peterkin and Bowd cooked up this story together. Bowd gets his book back in the Hootsmon on Sunday and Peterkin gets to try to stoke the fires of the Cybernat Terror sweeping the nation. Unfortunately for both, the nation was still fruitlessly looking for the alleged "death threats" and alleged "abuse" of an alleged "comedian."
But, unfortunately for Gavin and his book sales, the nation was still fixated on tracking down the non-existant 'abuse' and 'death threats' not levelled against Britannia's saviour, the Green Goblin:
Uninitiated readers will, of course, be wondering why an academic in sleepy St Andrews is so worried. Well, he shares the blame with the Scotland on Sunday for the photo that originally accompanied the article both online and in print.
A JK Rowling book launch doesn't even get anywhere near the front page. So why should a dreary, academic tome of at best minority interest by an unknown author get such a splash as:
So they could put this on the front page:
Dr Bowd played his part with a final paragraph deftly linking the SNP with Fascists. The concept of Civic Nationalism having escaped him, on the facile basis of having the word National in their title, he dreams up a "Nationalist Family" so he can the SNP to the Nazi nut-jobs:
Today, the ruling party of Scotland has nationalism as its creed and is suspiciously coy about its own history. Elsewhere in the nationalist family, the BNP, before it plunged into fratricidal warfare, trounced the Far Left in recent Scottish elections and, in 2010, received a respectable 1,000 votes in Alex Salmond’s stamping ground of Banff and Buchan. To this should be added growing sympathy for the agenda of Ukip. The Scottish electorate now appears more receptive to radical nationalism than Mosley’s blackshirts could ever dream of. With fears of globalisation and mass immigration on the rise, and the political “old gang” unpopular, there might still be living space in Scotland for the “Brown Beast”. In this way, we would be very much in line with our European cousins. Wha’s like us? Quite a few.
It doesn't bode well for book sales that he displays questionable journalistic and academic rigour by asserting that "the SNP should be coy about its history."
Of the people named in his article, 16 have or had nothing whatsoever to do with the SNP:
• George Kennedy Young, DD of MI6 and far-right Tory.
• The Earl of Erroll, Tory.
• The Duke of Buccleuch, Tory.
• The Duke of Hamilton, Tory / Nazi.
• Paolo di Canio, Fascist.
• Sir Oswald Mosley, British Fascist.
• WK Chambers-Hunter, Fascist.
• Alexander Ratcliffe, Scottish Protestant League.
• John Cormack, Protestant Action.
• Jessie Jordan, German spy.
• Derrick Grant, Fascist.
• Norman Baillie-Stewart, Fascist.
• Archibald Maule Ramsay MP, Scottish Unionist & Fascist.
• Thomas Carlyle, Romantic writer.
• Tsarina Elizabeth, Russian autocrat.
• President Roosevelt, Democrat President.
The 7 people named in the article who had something to do with the SNP are / were:
• Hugh MacDairmid, Communist and Scottish Nationalist, not a fascist.
• Andrew Dewar Gibb, Former Scottish Unionist, Second leader of the SNP, fought in WW1 and argued for appeasement in the 30s, was not a fascist.
• Douglas Young, SNP leader 1942 -45, Conscientious objector, not a fascist.
• Matthew Hamilton and Arthur Donaldson, SNP members interned during WW2 for belonging to the Scottish Neutrality League, not fascists.
• Graham Seton Hutchison, former soldier, novelist and fascist who switched to the SNP.
• Alex Salmond, most definitely not a fascist.
So we have one former fascist who in later life went on to join the SNP and who lived at a time when people were experimenting with all sorts of ideologies. So really nothing for the SNP to be coy about at all.
Needless to say, the baseless attempt to link the SNP with the BNP and other Fascists outraged Scottish Nationalists and fellow Yes Scotland supporters, the gratuitous image of the Saltire defaced with the NAZI Swastika outraged many Scots of all political persuasions, and the caption Klan Alba outraged some more. Twitter, Facebook and cyberspace erupted.
Before the end of the day the Swastika Saltire was replaced in the online edition with a library picture of Moseley's Blackshirts. Sometime later as Dr Bowd quaked in St Andrews, probably because of the stooshie their photo editor had stirred up, SoS felt compelled to add another paragraph to the article:
Gavin Bowd adds: In response to comments on this web site, I think it necessary to point out what my book Fascist Scotland is not. It is not a polemical pamphlet directed at any particular individual or organisation, nor is it an intervention in the referendum campaign.
The book is an investigation into Scotland’s various entanglements with the ultra-nationalist, racist, authoritarian and militaristic ideology that is fascism. Nationalism in Scotland has been of the overwhelmingly ‘civic’ kind, a country mile from fascism. However, there have been moments in history when Scottish nationalists have had to be vigilant about contamination by a less inclusive and progressive idea of the Nation. Long may such vigilance continue.
So he managed to find one ex-Fascist who joined the SNP in its history. I don't think the SNP will be insisting on positive vetting for all members on that basis.
I saw no physical threats made against Dr Bowd at the time and, needless to say, if some lunatic fringe did make such threats, I condemn them utterly. If the first Sunday of the Month is to become Cybernat Scare Sunday in the Scotland on Sunday, I look forward to next month's thrilling instalment.