Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Scottish independence: SNP Government Minister Shona Robison says “I'd never stifle free speech in indyref debate”, so she was emailing someone’s boss to ‘help’ their career, maybe the Scottish National Party should abandon ‘intimidation’ as it relates to Freedom of Speech!

Dear All

One thing that the Scottish National Party doesn’t like is freedom of speech.

As an SNP party member I expressed a view that the SNP had chosen the wrong candidate in Osama Saeed. I also expressed that he wouldn’t win that election but he would also return a low vote.

For voicing my opinion, this prompted the SNP to coerce me into censoring my blog.

That was the first time they did it and the last time.

Here is another story which mentions Osama Saeed who worked for Alex Salmond.

The Scottish National Party is run as a party within a party and these people don’t believe in free speech.

Now, the scandal and it is a scandal of an SNP Government minister caught up in a row of ‘gagging’ academics in the independence debate has continued to rumble on, English woman Shona Robison says she would never try to stifle debate.

Oh really!

Shona Robison, a Dundee SNP MSP has released a statement after the backlash by academics has spread beyond Scotland.

She questioned the impartiality of Professor Chris Whatley.

He is a Dundee University historian who is involved in a project to investigate issues raised by the referendum.

So, what was Professor Chris Whatley crime?

He appeared at a pro-UK Better Together event.

That is his crime.

This prompted Robison to ask whether his views are compatible with the neutrality of the university's 5 Million Questions project, and it also raises an issue of why the Scottish National Party are monitoring Better Together events.

After finding out Whatley was there, she emailed the university principal Professor Pete Downes on November 4 to say that Professor Whatley should remain neutral as he is a "figurehead" of the project.

Neutral in her eyes means he isn’t allowed to voice an opinion, some people call that suppression of freedom of speech.

Others call it gagging.

So, having shot herself in the foot, she attracted such an angry response from opposition parties, she is now backtracking, she is trying to save her career and reputation.

As well as the anger, there was an open letter from leading academics worried about freedom of speech in Scotland under Alex Salmond and Scotland’s unpopular Deputy First Minster Nicola Sturgeon.

Conservative leader Ruth Davidson entered the row to talk about intimidation, intimidation is used by the supporters of the Scottish National Party much in the same way that the Nazis used it in 1930’s Germany prior to coming to power, silence critics.

Nationalist supporters have also targeted me with a hate campaign.

First Minister Alex Salmond defending Robison said to Davidson:

"The accusation is total and utter nonsense. The words 'intimidation' and 'Shona Robison' don't sit easily together”.

Keep saying it, eventually there will be a ring to it.

Today see the unpressured SNP Minister who is the Commonwealth Games and Sport Minister, set out her position in a statement on her website.

She wants to justify herself.

That is called mitigation.

She wrote:

"Firstly, I am very happy to endorse the First Minister's support for Professor Chris Whatley's chairmanship of the project, and his right to participate in the launch of Better Together in Dundee. My concern was only ever about the perceived neutrality of the project itself, something it heavily stressed in its foundation statement - all of which is perfectly clear from the email I sent to Professor Pete Downes, principal of Dundee University."

She went on:

"Secondly, I actually agree with the academics who wrote...on Saturday that it is better if we know the views of people participating in the debate, and then everyone is in a position to view their contribution in that light. I would never try to stifle debate or attempt to restrict the right of anyone, whether an academic or not, to have a view in the debate on Scotland's future."
Her statement concluded:

"I believe that a fully informed debate best serves Scotland's referendum, and indeed the achievement of a Yes vote. I welcome open and diverse public debate on Scotland's constitutional future - engaging our academic community among many others is an important part of that process."

So, Shona Robison wanted Professor Chris Whatley ‘gagged’ to help the debate?

She did write to his boss, was that to help his career, this was a human rights gesture on her part?

What should concern academics is that they are being proactively monitored, and we should be asking Shona Robison who is doing it, by I suspect this is one piece of freedom of speech she wouldn’t wish to impart.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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