1 Nov 2018

Grouse Beater
The Deleted Evidence And The Central Issue

As soon as I read the Grouse Beater blog on the GMB Union's role in the Glasgow equal pay dispute, "GMB - Cockney Clique", late on the evening of Sunday 28th October, I knew it was problematic. Indeed, pretty much knew it would end up near exactly where it currently is: Grouse Beater suspended by the SNP, more than a few others also in the soup for sharing it, and the rest of all arguing about it among ourselves.

So I tried to help Grouse Beater. Within an hour of me reading the article, and only a few hours after the problematic article had just appeared, I made the first of three comments  to the readers' comments section of Grouse Beaters blog .

I got a response directly for Grouse Beater, but as I felt it wholly inadequate, I made this further comment 12 hours later.

I got another response from Grouse Beater shortly thereafter, but as it was even more inadequate than his first.  I then made this third, and what turned out to be my final comment

Shortly after this third comment was posted by me , it was deleted by Grouse Beater without response. And were my other two earlier comments, along with Grouse Beater's own two replies to them. Fortunately though, I had prudently screenshoted all three of my comments, though I did not the foresight to also screenshot Grouse Beaters replies.

So these are facts. Provable, undeniable facts.

Grouse Beater Near Certainly Did Know

But I am also asking readers to believe me when I say, in the first reply by Grouse Beater to my first comment, he told me he did in fact know Rhea Wolfson was Jewish when he started writing his blog. I specifically mention this, as I have subsequently seen several of Grouse Beater's defenders, ( but not, to my eyes, Grouse Beater himself), assert that Grouse Beater simply did not know Rhea Wolfson's religious background when he wrote the article.

But, this aside Grouse Beater - real name Gareth Wardell, exposed pretty quickly in the near immediate wake of the controversy - now tells us all, as he had told me in one of his deleted replies, that he was raised in a Jewish family. Therefore, he claimed, he could not be anti-Semitic. Well, anyone. Sadly can be anti-Semitic. Certainly anyone, including people who are not remotely anti-Semitic, can make an anti-Semitic remark, write an anti-Semitic sentence in a blog, add a gratuitous anti-Semitic section to an otherwise largely problematic free article. Just lose all sense of perspective in pursuit of an angle, and morph into the language and territory of the anti-Semite
But. believe me, if you are brought up in a Jewish family you will near certainly know someone called Rhea Wolfson is near certain from a Jewish heritage. Not knowing, is about as likely as someone brought up in a Muslim family not knowing someone called Mohammed Sarwar is a Muslim.

But Grouse Beater, who until outed claimed he lived in California not Edinburgh, did know a very specific quote from Hitler's Mein Kampf,.And he did chose to include it in an article on an industrial dispute in Glasgow in 2018. Part of a 5 paragraph section headlined "Hitler's View"

nb. The second paragraph above is a re-write by Grouse Beater, and different from what he initially wrote. I believe it was principally re-written as a response of sorts to my first comment on Grouse Beaters blog

My Judgement

Now, make of all this as you wish. But here is what I make of that:

1. Post publication edits and re-drafts of blogs are real easy.

2. This article needed much more than the tinkering with one single sentence.

Because, the specific focus of the article was an attack on present lead official of the GMB in the Glasgow Equal Pay dispute, Rhea Wolfson. And the very specific inclusion of 5 paragraphs headed "Hitler's View", including a very specific paragraph centered on a distasteful quote from Mien Kampf, about Jewish trade unionists, forms part of Grouse Beater's attempt to do that.

Because Rhea Wolfson is Jewish. And Grouse Beater will near certainly have always known she was Jewish.

Who is Rhea Wolfson?

Now, I have no particular flame for Rhea Wolfson. I have never met her. Only vaguely heard of her by reputation, and now through reading a little more about her in the wake of the Grouse Beater row. And, it confirmed, what I think near anyone who knew anything about the dispute or the GMB would likely have known for ages: Rhea Wolfson is a member of the Labour Party. And something of a high flyer. A prospective parliamentary candidate for Livingston , and she is only 28 years old. 

And I also found out that she is a Corbynite. Now that did slightly surprise me, as, by reputation, the GMB is run by "right wingers". "Blairites", if one feels the need to divide Labour Party members into two fixed camps. But the GMB certainly is not "Corbynite".

Then I found out a bit more, through my personal contacts with some real well sussed Trade Unions activists. And found this out. 28 year old Rhea Wolfson got the job, despite being a Corbynite, not because of it. She got the job, because she was good , real good. And the GMB needed someone like that to come in and sort out the mess it had got itself into back in 2005 when it had in effect signed off on a discriminatory pay deal with then the Labour Party ran Glasgow City Council, more or less to "keep the men happy"

And at that time Rhea Wolfson was a 15 year old schoolgirl.

But in Grouse Beaters article, you would think she was the villain of the feast. The main person responsible for near all the GMB and the Labour Party have messed up on in a 15 year period. But near the opposite is reality. Rhea Wolfson is about the first GMB official over that 15 year period to do her job properly. To put the interests of the low paid workers she represents, at the top of the agenda. Explain to them, that as well as being victims, they have power, Power to put the solution to their long overdue case at the top of the agenda. The very top. Power to rattle cages. Power in particular to rattle the cages of the one body that can deliver them justice; Their employer. Glasgow City Council. A council which now has has an SNP administration. An SNP administration elected on an unequivocal pledge to settle the long running dispute.

17 months ago

"Hitler's View"

But rather than tell us any of this this,  Grouse Beater includes a five paragraph section on "Hitler's View
And quotes a section of Mein Kampf on "The Jew" and trade Unions written in 1923. In Bavaria. By an Austrian fascist. About an equal pay dispute in Glasgow, in 2018. A section he refuses to remove having been informed, early and politely how problematic it will prove, not least to him.

And aside from Nazi Germany, Grouse Beater also tells us that "there is a strong rumour her (Wolfson's) GMB male colleagues advised against striking"

That ( if true) would be most likely be these GMB colleagues who had messed up the entire dispute for near on 15 years.

But, in Grouse Beaters article, these "male colleagues" are the relative GMB good guys, It is 28 year old Rhea Wolfson who is the real villain.

28 year old Jewish, Rhea Wolfson.

The Nub of the Matter

"Unfair, you are a disgrace to the cause, worse than your brother" I hear Grouse Beater's band of defenders shout increasingly loudly. ( I paraphrase, but have had this posted on my fb timeline already. By the usual self-appointed guardians of the nationalist (sic) flame - every one a man.)
No, It is many of these types who are the Yes movement's equivalents of my brother and a few other lost the plot obsessive Unionist bloggers. Because both can see no further than a single cause, An as consequence their entire narrative on every issue has become so obsessed with the cause, nationalist plots, unionist plots, CIA plots, MSN plots. That THEY lose the plot. Start quoting from Mein Kampf in a blog about a Glasgow Council Pay dispute and doing so in an article focussed upon a Jewish Trade Union official. And in so doing, lose the argument, when they started with an otherwise unbeatable hand

So I have not been unfair to Grouse Beater. I have actually been kind to him. ( so far) Pointed out to him as quietly as I could how problematic these paragraphs in his article were. Suggested to him an easy course of action, a damage limitation plan. And one that will save everybody a lot of angst, not least him..
But did he listen? Is he even capable of listening? I fear not.
Because now suspended from the SNP, facing likely expulsion, he still sits with that offending and wholly unnecessary "Hitler's View" section unaltered one his blog . Save the re-arranging of a single sentence..
Because he can do no wrong, He is a champion of the cause against the MSN. Apparently he is the victim of an MSN plot, even though the first time anyone in the media heard about this plot is when the self indulgent and obstinate, ill informed, out of touch Gareth Wardell, who as Grouse Beater was claiming to be living in Malibu, handed it to them on a silver plate some time Sunday evening /Monday morning 28-29 October. At the very time I was trying to helpfully save him from himself. Until he deleted me!
And , even now even when Rhea Wolfson  has herself said it, the notion that a Jewish Trade Union Official might be genuinely offended by Grouse Beater  in effect comparing the trade union she works for to the Nazis, seems beyond his comprehension. No, it is all because she is a Labourite, She is faking it. It is all just an MSN plot. One Nicola Sturgeon is in on.
That Gareth Wardell , retired Edinburgh theatrical producer, our pal, could have posted something both dumb and anti-Semitic, and most likely unconsciously, impossible, So should stand his ground". Is made of "sterner stuff" . And because similarly minded echo chamber bloggers, from Peter A Bell upwards, tell him he is right. Are even running a campaign for him. And in terms that are both laughable and insulting to the entire independence movement, SNP members in particular. Read this hyperbole from "Barrhead Boy".

And, to anyone thinking of foolishly buying into this, some serious questions.
What did introducing a Mein Kampf quote on "The Jew" add to our knowledge on the Glasgow Equal Pay dispute?
And who did it particularly offend?
And you want to back a campaign to defend the right to keep it there?
And you genuinely think this is any way to win independence for Scotland?
People, Yes minded bloggers,  are really going to spend these months, crucial months for the independence cause running a "defend the Grouse Beater Campaign", essentially against the SNP?
They are actually going to appeal to Yes campaigners in an already over stretched indy movement crowdfunder market to help pay for it?
When the whole row could more or less be ended at any moment by a "sorry, I called that one wrong" plus a 30 second "paste and delete" job of five wholly irrelevant paragraphs on "Hitler's View" by Grouse Beater? The guy who gratuitously started the whole row, handing Labour, who were totally on the back foot of the Glasgow Equal Pay issue, a propaganda gift in the process/.

But keeping them there, and despite Rhea Wolfson and many, many more having said they find them offensive, would that be anti-Semitic?

Yes. Absolutely.

But not in the classic, evilest of forms. But anti-Semitism, none the less, Because, having firstly wrongly and unfairly targeted her as the villain in the GMB, , in order to undermine Rhea Wolfson further, Grouse Beater , gratuitously plays "The Hitler card". And how he plays it is subtle. And, giving him the benefit of the doubt, maybe even a sub-conscious play. But play it, he does.

Because implicit in all of this, why the entire "Hitler's View" section is there, is an attempt to show, Rhea Wolfson, a Jewish trade unionist, is unaware of the lessons of history on Hitler's treatment of Jewish Trade Unionists. So must be generally unaware. And a hypocrite with it.

And, were Rhea Wolfson anything other than Jewish, Grouse Beater would never have played his "Hitler Card".  Would never even of thought of it. 

Yet when this is suggested to him, Grouse Beater digs in, still digs in . Insists his "Hitler's View" five paragraphs, including the fourth one with the Mein Kampf quote in it, stay in. And all five paragraphs are still there, are still all there (as I write around 7 am on Friday 2nd November) .Even when it had been politely pointed out to Grouse Beater how problematic, and unnecessary they are five days ago, And in a five day period in which these friendly warning have been proven entirely predictive.  And that, in my judgement, is because in Grouse Beater's mind, they are central to his argument. Central to his article that that targets Rhea Wilson.

Anti-Semitism, 2018, Yes Movement style.

And , just as easily, No movement style too. This could have been a trade Unionist who is an SNP member and happens to be Jewish getting targeted. And it could have been some Labourite blogger under investigation. For just going way over the top. Crossing the line

Because anti-Semitism is still out there, in even some of the most "liberal" of places. In every party. And it is, as in the past, if much less brutally, used to score a political point over a political opponent. And needs to be faced down, called out. Without fear or favour, And in a non partisan manner, And not excused, explained away, just because the offender is making other points you agree with. Just because he is a chum. A "good guy"

So well done Neil Findlay the senior Labour MSP who raised this matter with our First Minister. Scotland's First Minister, not just the SNP's. My First Minister.

And well done the SNP, for responding so decisively and unequivocally..

And that Defend the Grouse Beater crowdfunder campaign?

I can think of a thousand more worthy causes. 

And one is the Glasgow Equal Pay Campaign.

Alan Smart, the author of the AyeWeCan blog, was born in Paisley Renfrewshire in 1959, and has a 1st Class Honours Degree in Modern History and Economic History from Glasgow University. He also has a Teaching Diploma in History and Modern Studies. He was Chairperson of Scottish Labour Students 1981-2, and President of NUS Scotland 1984 - 86.  A former Head of Current Affairs at Scottish Television and thereafter Head of Broadcasting at the Scottish Parliament, he is currently a freelance Musician. As Citizen Smart he was heavily involved in the largely successful 2013-4 Anti-Bedroom Tax Campaign and wrote and performed the "Bedroom Tax Song", a parody of Matt McGinn's/Adam McNaughton's "Jeely Piece Song". As of this moment he is working with fellow musicians on a project to celebrate the life and times of John Maclean. A member of UNITE Communities, and since 2016 a member of Clackmannanshire SNP.



Fred MacMillan Thursday, November 01, 2018  

Well said Alan Smart, brave and unequivocal. I witnessed your comments and his responses before he deleted them. We discussed them at the time on facebook and our comments remain. There is no doubt that he knew from the first word he typed that Rhea is Jewish and that his article directly suggested before the edit that she has behaved in the manner described by Hitler with regard to jews in trade unions.

Furthermore he has now retrospectively claimed that he did not know which is nothing short of outrageous.

Again I commend your fortitude.

Fred MacMillan

Citizen Smart Thursday, November 01, 2018  

Thank you. Grouse Beater and his supporters are trying to present him as some sort of great victim here. But I hope the narrative I prove here shows, even those who dont think his article was anti-Semitic , will at least concede he has been indulgent and essentially real stupid. And I would say , i is more than possible to write an anti-Semitic article without necessarily being an anti Semite. Just stupid. And in Grouse Beaters case obstinate in the extreme as well, Because anyone sensible would have amended that article more or less along the lines I suggest n no later than Monday tea time when they leaned Neil Findlay had written to the FM about it. That it is still sitting unaltered, bar that tiny back covering amendment by Grouse Beater early on Monday , is astonishing to me

Fred MacMillan Friday, November 02, 2018  

Hi Alan I thought you might like this little gem.

"As Irish have noted, ever alert to English arrogance, ready to zap it with a Joycean one-liner such as ‘you gobshite, Britain’s communications regulator Ofcom considers Nazi a mild term of abuse.

A ‘mild term of abuse’. This sad state of affairs – particularly for Jews – has come to pass because the “reductio ad Hitlerum” argument is common currency, certain to arrive at the end of some bigot’s piss-poor response. Argument failing them – for the simple reason they don’t employ reason – calling an opponent a Nazi is the Final Condemnation.

As an online discussion grows longer, more fractious and antagonistic, the probability of a comparison involving Nazism or Hitler is guaranteed. Those uttering the fateful words are probably the same who used to repeat the myth that avers Hitler was not all bad, he built great motorways. For the record, Hitler approved the speeding up of Germany’s first autobahns but they soon disintegrated from wear and tear, and have been renewed and improved a few times since"

A fairly salient argument much like the ones put forward by most reasonably minded people during the recent spat. You may be amused to learn that this was blogged by Gareth Wardell aka Grouse Beater in March of this yearTitled Of Jocks, Nats, and Nazis. It appears Mr Wardell thinks that street only runs one way.


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