In this shriveled scrap of empire we call the United Kingdom, there is a fine tradition of the anonymous political missive – Swift, Defoe, Scott, to name but a few. What is interesting is that they all relate to the idea of a greater England. Let’s call it Britain, for argument’s sake.
Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe (based on the Scot Alexander Selkirk), was the English spy and pamphleteer who came to Scotland to campaign for Union with England in the early 1700s, at great risk to his personal safety. Walter Scott, on the other hand, when not arguing for the continuation of that same Union, fought to save Scotland’s version of English money in the 1820s (that’s why he’s on it). As for Jonathan Swift, well, I defy any adult who knows Irish history to read Gulliver’s Travels and not see Lilliput as a scathing metaphor for English colonial rule: Ireland tied down and crawling with self-important little Englishmen, who all just happen to be six inches long. Brilliant.
All three writers used anonymity to protect themselves from retaliation for their political campaigns. When you are taking on a state, you need to be careful. States are remote, faceless powers that cannot be touched. It is only fair to extend the political pamphleteer, novelist, or blogger the same courtesy.
Once again, though, it seems as if the genre will no longer be tolerated by the powers that be.
A War on Nationalist Bloggers?
With the recent campaign to close down three Scottish nationalist blogs, some may be wondering if the days of anonymous political dissent in Scotland are numbered. The identities of two nationalist bloggers – Subrosa and Montague Burton – were revealed in the same week, while Wardog was harassed at work and home by newspapers.
So who is behind this? Is the establishment fighting back?
As far as I am concerned, for a political blogger, being told to shut up means you are annoying somebody. And if you are someone with a political axe to grind who enjoys pissing people off, this is about as close as you will get to a pat on the back.
So what would happen if my identity were exposed? After my massive ego had dealt with the flattery of it all, next there will be calls from reporters, the paparazzi at the bottom of the garden. I might have to get an agent. Not that revealing my identity would make much difference. If it happens, so be it. My blog hit rate might even soar through a dozen hits a day. The most likely reaction would be a resounding ‘Who?’
Let me be clear. Alex Salmond was right to tell nationalist bloggers to cool the four-letter insults. They convince no one. But these attacks had absolutely nothing to do with obscene language. Subrosa didn’t generally say nasty things about anyone, yet someone tried to reveal her identity. Someone didn’t like what she had to say, and tried to shut her up.
As for Wardog and Montague, these were solid blogs I enjoyed reading, and will miss. Personally, I prefer not to resort to four-letter name-calling, but others may do as they please. If you don’t like to hear it, don’t visit the site. I occasionally use bad language on my blog (So what? We’re all adults) and I feel it is my right to insult political groups I consider worthy of contempt. If challenged, I will respond with:
"Prove to me you are not oxygen thieves."
I have also made the odd poor attempt at satire, which works best when the target is not named but they decide to complain anyway, and to the reply should always be:
"What makes you think the drink-sodden moron was you?"
My blog is a vehicle for my opinions, and what I believe. I happen to believe the British state is technically bankrupt and rotten to its stinking, expenses-fueled, illegal war-waging core. I think that Scotland is in a colonial situation with England, against the wishes of the English people. I believe that most Scots and English are essentially decent people, but that we are ruled by a corrupt, self-serving political class whose continued existence depends on keeping us locked together in an artificial state called the United Kingdom.
No one can condemn me for holding these opinions. Or change them. My self-set task is to convince those of a different opinion, and to ridicule those I consider my political enemies.
Why Jim Murphy is Not a C**t
To simply call someone a c**t, though, is to lose. It convinces no one. In my opinion, it tells your enemies that they are winning, that you are powerless, and is a cry of anger and frustration.
Oh, and by the way, Jim Murphy is most definitely NOT a c**t. He is, in my humble opinion, a second rate political lightweight who has never had a proper job in his life and who is facing electoral oblivion at the next General Election. And quite frankly he is shitting himself.
C**ts, on the other hand, are pleasing on the eye, exciting to see, serve a productive purpose in society, and regularly put a smile on my face. They are, above all, useful. So, Wardog and Montague, on behalf of c**ts everywhere, I demand a retraction. How dare you sully the reputation of these truly wonderful creations!
What is at Stake
Just as for Swift, Scott and Defoe, the anonymous political writer today has much at stake. For many bloggers, exposure might mean your reputation, your career, even your life. Whether it is the university lecturer losing his job for saying things too vulgar for those poor wee precious students to hear (give me a break), the police officer revealing systemic corruption among the officers around him, or the political dissident criticizing his government, it can be a serious business.
Unless you are lucky enough to be a full time sex slave to a rich, horny widow who doesn’t know the first thing about politics and has free broadband, cable and a heated swimming pool. Then you are pretty much in the clear.
"Authority, I laugh at you! Ha!"
No, not you, Sweetie. I’ll be there in a minute.
The challenge for the government is to stop the political blogger from blogging. If you have already made your identity public voluntarily, they only have to wait for you to say something incompatible with your professional position and then hound your bosses till you are sacked. (Wardog and Monty, we await your return. You served a valuable role.)
If you are anonymous, you probably have good reason to be. They first have to reveal your identity, preferably in a way that conceals government involvement, at least in supposedly democratic states. Make it look like a mistake, or the work of a nosey newspaper. (Well done, Rosy, for getting back in the ring. I salute you.)
The question to ask is ‘cui bono?’ To whose advantage was the exposure of Subrosa, Montague Burton and the harassment of Wardog? Other bloggers, jealous of their hit-rates? Newspapers, envious of their readership? The Scotland Office, annoyed at not getting blanket coverage of the independence-bad, Union-good message?
I’m not making any accusations, but just what exactly do the sixty – count them: SIXTY – people in the Anti-Scottish Office do? That’s nearly half the total number of politicians in Holyrood. And what exactly does Jim Murphy spends his £7.2million budget a year on? When Scotland becomes independent, England will have a consular general in Edinburgh with a secretary and a cappuccino machine if they’re lucky. So what the hell do these SIXTY people do? Their total salaries can’t amount to much more than £2million. Where the hell does the rest go?
Can we see the accounts, please, Jim?
Exposure works both ways, too. When my rich widow unties me long enough to blog, I can tell exactly when my missives are read by those in Whitehall, Westminster and Holyrood.
Take this avid little reader, for instance. You can tell a lot about what’s on someone’s mind by the path they take through the site. Any guesses? And a whole hour on my site, too. I’m flattered. They obviously have a lot of time on their hands.
(Green – where they came from, black – what they read, blue – how they left)
Make no mistake, I am under no illusions that the minions of the British government don’t know exactly who I am. To be perfectly honest, though, I don’t really care.
Speak the truth and let the heavens fall, to twist the words of Thoreau. Let them do their damnedest.
As long as I keep my cute little widow happy, I’m not going anywhere.
Oops, spoke too soon. Gotta go.
Duty calls. Ahem.
UPDATE: WATCHING THE WATCHERS