Republish AyeScotland but nae mair abuse
A good few months ago I was contacted out of the blue and asked to become an editor of the AyeScotland Facebook page(Formally Yes2).
Basically, the folk behind the page liked autonomyscotland and they wanted me to post our articles there. They said it might improve my reach. That, it turns out, was a bit of an understatement. The AyeScotland Facebook page regularly reaches more than a million people each week. It has sometimes reached 3 million.
Since taking them up on the offer the traffic to this wee blog has at least doubled.
It isn’t just me who has benefited from being involved with the page. Other, more well-known pro indy voices, gain more exposure than they otherwise would by the existence of the page. Wee Ginger Dug, Scot Goes Pop, Indy Live, Common Spaces and Business for Scotland all regularly publish work there. As such the page has a lot of interesting content and it avoids a lot of the click bait rubbish that you find on many other social media sites.
Aside from being a rich source of content Aye Scotland has also been a campaigning hub. Due to its massive reach, the page has been important in arranging and promoting events and rallies. Going forward it would have been a key place to disperse information and organise people in any second indyref campaign.
Sadly though, last week the AyeScotland page disappeared.
I first noticed when I went to post last week’s Brain Quail speech. I didn’t pay much attention at first as these things sometimes happen with technology. However, days passed and it was still down. Then I saw some gossip floating about on other pages insinuating that Aye Scotland may be gone for good.
Weirdly, although I had been contributing to the page for months I had never actually spoken to anyone involved with it. They just trusted me to post my stuff. They never once editorialised, deleted anything I posted or asked me to tone anything down when I was being provocative.
I thought it was refreshing that complete strangers would trust me to do whatever I wanted. I think this was one of the reasons the page did so well. They let people with different voices and styles do whatever they wanted. That attitude is completely within the spirit of the 2014 movement.
This working relationship was fine while the page was up and running. It was only after the page went down that I did what I had not done until that point, I reached out and contacted the admin, John McHarg.
When I got a hold of John he was upset.
Turns out he has been getting hassle and abuse for months from small sections of the independence movement. The abuse has been causing stress which built up to such a level that John decided to close the page. When we spoke he was conflicted as to whether it was worth continuing with his hard work in the face of such maltreatment.
Now, it should be noted that I don’t know the full story of AyeScotland. Certainly, I know that in the past there have been fallings out and disagreements between those who originally ran the page resulting in acrimony and changes in the admin team. I don’t know enough about that to comment. I do know that this isn’t uncommon in any organisation.
However, from what I have seen, the bulk of the abuse John has been getting has come from people from other parts of the independence movement. It is vindictive, petty and based on wild unsubstantiated rumours. It emanates from people who seem to be willing to angrily threaten others based on allegations with not a shred of evidence behind them. Allegations, that are either ludicrous conspiracy theories(The admin of Yes2 is a unionist traitor who controls elements of Glasgow police), or inconsequential.
Honestly, reading through some of the social media rants about John is reminiscent of the behaviour I saw when I went to see the Crucible at the Theatre Royal a few weeks ago. Fanatics frothing themselves into a hysteria over outlandish claims.
I know this type of behaviour just comes from a minority of people who haven’t quite graduated from the social conventions of the primary school playground. That said, I can see why it would be draining to be subjected to it over a sustained period.
From what I have seen, I have no reason to think that John is anything other than a normal human who has done more than most to further the cause of Scottish independence. Like most of us, he has no doubt made some mistakes, but he has indisputably given countless hours of his time to create one of the movement’s most important assets. An asset that we are in danger of losing due to some people not being able to engage in civil discourse.
My experience of John and Aye Scotland has only been positive. However, even if my experience of John wasn’t positive, even if I had seen some sort of evidence he wasn’t an honourable person, I would never abuse him
Going forward, I’m hoping the wider Yes movement will back me in supporting John and Aye Scotland, and I hope we can convince him to reinstate the page.
In my opinion, he is one of the movement’s unsung heroes. Let’s stand together and agree that nobody who has worked so hard for our shared goal deserves to receive abuse from others who claim to want the same thing. Let’s get behind John and let’s get the page up and running again.
Not only because it is right to stand up to abuse wherever we see it, but because losing the page will be a big loss to the future reach and influence of our movement.
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