The problem with trying to graft the politics of one country onto another country

Many thanks to the Twitter user Alba Loun for alerting me to a lengthy and bitter hit-piece that Jeggit wrote about me on his blog Random Public Journal a couple of days ago.  The fact that I was oblivious to the article’s existence until today may indicate that it didn’t have quite the impact hoped for, and it’s certainly the case that Jeggit has been making determined efforts in recent weeks to alienate practically all of his previous allies with gratuitously nasty attacks on Marion Millar and the Women Won’t Wheesht movement more broadly.  Many people will therefore think I should regard his rant about me as a veritable badge of honour, and at the very least it’s unlikely to do me any harm.  Nevertheless, just as I said a few weeks ago when Ross Anderson was using the Wee Ginger Dug blog as a platform to publicly attack me, it’s important as a matter of principle to have the right to reply to personal attacks and to be able to set the record straight.

Basically what has upset Jeggit so much are three tweets I wrote about him several weeks ago.  Why he’s suddenly decided to react after so long is a bit of a mystery – maybe he just didn’t notice at the time.  But given that he thinks “the knives are out for Jeggit”, all I can say is they must be bloody slow knives if they’ve taken this long to reach him.  This is what I tweeted – 

“A theory about Jeggit (and it’s only a theory). His real loyalty is to Sinn Fein and the cause of Irish unification and sovereignty. Nothing wrong with that, but he’s unusual in that he’s decided his main contribution to the cause will be via the Scottish independence movement. This has led to him tying himself up in knots, because he’s trying very hard to stay faithful to the Sinn Fein stance on trans rights – which puts him firmly on the side of SNP centrists, and against the more radical elements of the indy movement, who he otherwise sees as allies. This is the problem with trying to graft the politics of one country onto another country.”

Anyone who was aware of the context of those remarks will know that I was actually trying to defend him, at least up to a point, but is he intelligent enough to spot that?  A great many people were accusing him of being a woman-hater due to his declaration of all-out war on Ms Millar and gender critical feminists, and I was simply pointing out that there was a plausible alternative explanation – one that potentially reflected less badly on him.  Some of you may also remember that I stood up for Jeggit several years ago when the SNP tried to paint him as a monster due to comments that were, to put it mildly, ambiguous and open to more than one interpretation.  But “no good deed goes unpunished”, as the saying goes.

His article is quite astoundingly dishonest and packed full of toddler-tantrum insults (“Kelly is a moral coward”, “Kelly is an intellectual lightweight” and the like), but what is most remarkable about it is that he claims to be setting out to prove my theory wrong, but ends up unwittingly proving it right in most respects.  I did emphasise it was only a theory (ie. I was acknowledging it could be totally wrong), and while it may not have been bang-on accurate, it appears to have been very, very close to the mark.  Consider the following –

* At the top of the article is a selfie of Jeggit with Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald.  (Even though I was a long-term supporter of the SNP until very recently, I can’t retaliate with a selfie of me and Nicola Sturgeon, because I must be just about the only person in Scotland who doesn’t have one.) 

* He goes on to say he is “fiercely” loyal to Sinn Fein, and thirty-two county Irish sovereignty.

* He then indignantly asserts that it is entirely natural for a Scot living in Dublin who supports Irish unity to also support Scottish independence.  In other words his belief in Scottish independence is subsidiary to his loyalty to Sinn Fein and Irish unity, precisely as I suspected and suggested.

* He explains that the reason his support for Scottish indy is such a natural extension for him is that it flows from opposition to “British imperialism”.  That’s a very telling use of language, which suggests he is viewing the subject entirely through an Irish republican prism.  Not everyone in the Scottish independence movement regards this country as a victim of imperialism or colonialism, but those that do would generally refer to it as “English imperialism” or “London imperialism”.  Scotland can scarcely be the victim of British imperialism given that we are part of the island of Great Britain and always will be.  There is, quite simply, no British state without us – which explains why an Irish republican like Jeggit might happily be a co-belligerent of the Yes campaign for reasons that have little to do with Scotland’s own future.

* He really gives the game away when he contrasts the supposedly relaxed attitude of the Irish population to self-ID for trans people (recent polling tells a radically different story, incidentally) with the British “fixation” with debating the subject.  What does he mean by “British”?  We know what he means.  He’s talking about the Scots, about Marion Millar et al.  We’re just “Brits” to him.  This isn’t unusual in the Irish nationalist worldview, I’ve found over the years.  The perception is that these islands consist of just two nations – Ireland and Britain, with the words “England” and “Britain” used interchangeably.  No real harm is meant by that, and if you point out the existence of Scotland and Wales, people will generally smile and apologise.  But nevertheless the basic worldview is that there are essentially two countries, with Britain the oppressor and Ireland the oppressed.  Jeggit seems to instinctively buy into that.

Jeggit of course regards me pointing all of this out as an indication that I am an “anti-Irish bigot” with an aversion to “the stink of Fenian”, and a “unionist” (!) whose mind has been “penetrated” by the “Orange sash”.  (The article really is every bit as hysterically funny as it sounds.)  As I said in my tweets above, these claims are bordering on defamatory.  Either he’s intentionally lying, or he’s making a wild guess about my attitudes to Ireland that can only be regarded as somewhat “brave” given that my surname is Kelly.  I and hundreds of thousands like me in west-central Scotland are exactly what Rangers fans mean when they sing about “Fenians”.  You’ll find no self-loathing here – I know what community I come from, I’m proud of that community, and my political views are entirely typical of that community.  Where I part company from Jeggit is that I believe the statelet of Northern Ireland has existed for long enough that it’s simply not realistic any longer to deny the people of NI the right to self-determination within the borders of that statelet, as artificial as they may be.  I therefore accept that the future of Northern Ireland must be determined by the people of Northern Ireland, and if they choose to remain in the United Kingdom, they may be misguided but they are entirely within their rights.  Be under no illusions, though – if I lived in NI myself, I’d be voting for a nationalist party.  Sinn Fein are a bit rich for my blood given their historical baggage, and the SDLP are perhaps not rich enough, so I’d have a difficult choice between the two, but it would be one or the other.  All of this poses something of a problem for Jeggit’s barking mad thesis, which rests on the assumption that I am somehow the reincarnation of Lord Carson.

But Jeggit’s most dishonest claim of all is that he is “almost entirely unaware” of Sinn Fein’s position on trans rights, and therefore cannot possibly be influenced by it in the way I suggested.  Pull the other one, Jegsy.  You expect us to believe that you’ve written multiple detailed articles on this topic without even bothering to check what the party you give your “fierce” loyalty to thinks about it?  Aye, whatever.

I also couldn’t help but raise a smile at Jeggit’s implication that I am an “ethno-nationalist”.  Given that the root cause of his antipathy towards me is his stated view that I am not “revolutionary” enough, and given my own long history of moderate civic nationalism, I’m quite content for others to judge which of the two of us is the ethno-nationalist.

Last but not least, we have the rabbit from the hat – Jeggit claims he can’t possibly be slavishly loyal to Sinn Fein policy positions because he strongly disagrees with the party’s support for abortion rights.  He makes reference to the existence of the small breakaway Aontu party, which is essentially a socially conservative, anti-abortion version of Sinn Fein.  Jeggit states that he decided against leaving Sinn Fein for strategic reasons – he thinks the national struggle is more important than the abortion issue due to the fact that the latter has already been “settled”.  

So essentially all that was wrong with my theory is that his heart lies midway between the ideals and values of Aontu, and Sinn Fein’s.  Wasn’t out by much, was I?

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