Nasty? Yes. Homophobic? Get a grip, dears. Just another “SNP BAD!” non-story.
“Tory minister slams SNP blogger over homophobic tweet” screams the headline in Pink News.
Except that the blogger in question, Reverend Stuart Campbell – who posted the Tweet under his “Wings Over Scotland” Twitter page – is not an SNP spokesperson, is not even a member of the Scottish National Party, and even makes the point on the Wings Over Scotland website;
“The site advocates Scottish independence, but is not affiliated or connected in any way to the SNP, and neither gives to or receives money from the party, nor indeed any other party.”
Still, I suppose it’s better than the enormous gaffe that Pink New came up with earlier, where their headline read “Tory minister slams conservative blogger”.
So to the offensive tweet itself. It surrounds Oliver Mundell MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament), the son of Secretary of State for Scotland, and Scotland’s only Conservative Member of Parliament, David Mundell, who after being closeted most of his adult life, came out as gay in January 2015.
The supposedly “homophobic” Wings Over Scotland tweet read “Oliver Mundell is the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad embraced his homosexuality sooner.”
If that is at all homophobic, I for one am failing to see it. It is certainly quite nasty to wish someone had never been born, and that is quite a low blow for Rev Stuart Campbell, an ordained Christian minister, and I do believe that Stuart should apologise ~ on those grounds. If it were meant as a joke, it’s not even funny. But was it homophobic? I don’t think so. I’m certainly not offended by it ~ and you’d have to go to great lengths to find a bigger Scottish poof than me.
Nonetheless that did not stop David Mundell (known as “Fluffy” to Scots Nats ~ a reference to his hair and beard, NOT his sexuality) from immediately playing the homophobia card;
“This sort of behaviour has to be called out. We’re not going to face down homophobia unless we call out people who practice it” said the Scottish Secretary.
No show without Punch, his son Oliver, who was elected as Conservative MSP for Dumfriesshire in 2016 was not long in answering either. And like Pink News, chose to take the opportunity to smear the SNP;
“It is really important they call out this kind of behaviour. There are lots of reasonable people within the independence movement. But there are still some unpleasant figures who get given airtime by senior people within the SNP,” he said, “This is an individual who has interacted with SNP MSPs and MPs, and distributed material in the last independence campaign. There is duty for all of us in politics to call out those within their own ranks who are offensive and unpleasant… …I get a lot of abuse online. There are certain individuals you don’t want to give oxygen to but sometimes comments people make just cross the line.
“For other families who have gone through similar situations, comments like that make it more difficult for people to be who they are,” he said. “I don’t think that’s the kind of Scotland anyone wants to live in.”
Of course, Rev Campbell is not in the SNP ranks, and by his own admission in Wings Over Scotland, has no affiliation to them. But don’t ever let those troubling little facts get in the way of a Tory “SNP BAD!” story. It is also interesting to note that Stuart Campbell has since tweeted that several people have approached the SNP for a comment – or an apology – for the tweet, but not one person has approached him.
For my money, homophobia is a problem in Scotland and one which is all too often ignored or brushed under the carpet. And the independence camp are far from blameless in this. During the campaign for the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014, openly lesbian Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson came under attack from an online troll who made some thoroughly disgusting comments about her sexuality.
It is worth noting however, that it was members of the SNP and Yes Scotland who were first to immediately rally behind Ruth and distance themselves from the troll, they exposed his true identity, shamed him into apologising, and had him kicked out of both the SNP and Yes. Ruth Davidson tweeted that she felt that the Scots Nats defending her treated her “with gallantry”.
But then, the unionists were not so angelic either. The official unionist campaign, Better Together, once put an LGBT rainbow banner up on their Facebook page. Less than 24 hours later they had to remove it, due to vile homophobic comments ~ from their own supporters.
And of course, the Tories have not always been the champions of the LGBT+ community. Quite the opposite, historically and traditionally the Conservative Party have been deeply homophobic, transphobic, and one of the greatest obstacles to LGBT+ rights in the UK ~ and in some quarters within their party, remain very much so.
But homophobia is such a serious problem that to make false claims of it are also potentially damaging. It is like the person of colour who plays the race card where no mention of their race has been made or inferred, or the Israeli (or pro-Israeli) who reacts to valid criticism of the state of Israel by claiming anti-Semitism and bringing up the Holocaust.
Remember the boy who cried ‘Wolf’? Nobody listened to him in the end. Therefore, as odious as Rev Campbell’s tweet was in wishing Oliver Mundell had not been born (and which he really should apologise for), it was by no means homophobic, and to claim it was can only ultimately harm Scotland’s LGBT+ community.
Finally, Oliver Mundell is correct; no-one wants to live in an intolerant Scotland, or UK for that matter. We had enough of that when the notorious Section 28 made it illegal to ‘promote’ ~ i.e. have publications about or even discuss ~ homosexuality in schools.
Introduced in 1988, it was eventually repealed in Scotland in 2000, despite opposition from many Conservative MSPs ~ including David Mundell.
Yes, Fluffy ~ I’m no slouch at smear tactics either, dear.