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Sat May 6, 2017, 05:27 AM

The Rise Of The Alt-Left British Media


Just as the likes of Breitbart broke into the mainstream during the 2016 US presidential election by exploiting a lack of right-wing viral news, the 2017 general election is driving record traffic to the loose collection of alt-left British outlets that are positioning themselves as Corbyn’s outriders, jumping on stories without much of the nuance of outlets that remain rooted in mainstream reporting traditions.

There’s nothing particularly new about such outlets. It’s well over a decade since political blogging established itself in the UK and Clark himself has been quietly running his site for seven years, with little initial success: Clark says he “used to punch the air” when a post reached 10,000 views. But until around 2015 most of these blogs remained aimed at an insider audience or local activists – featuring titbits widely read by those in the Westminster bubble or people who work at mainstream news organisations, or appealing only to the rare members of the public who waste their lives discussing political news. It usually took an established outlet to pick up a story in order to make it go mainstream.

What's changed is that, according to analysis conducted by BuzzFeed News during the first two weeks of the election campaign, articles by Another Angry Voice and other similar alt-left media publications such as The Canary, Evolve Politics, and Skwawkbox are consistently and repeatedly going more viral than mainstream UK political journalism.

Essentially, if you’re tired of biased right-wing reporting dominating the agenda, why not fight fire with fire? If millions of people, desperately willing the Conservatives to defeat, are looking for hope, why would you expect them to read and share reports about Labour’s failings? And so, even as Labour is struggling in the polls and local elections, these sites are surging among a growing band of true believers. “People know they’re being misled but they work hard making ends meet and don’t have the time to think it all through,” said Clark, who considers himself to be a writer rather than a journalist. “So they really like having a guy out there who can cut through the propaganda and put the counter-arguments into articles and infographics they can share."

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Reply The Rise Of The Alt-Left British Media (Original post)
T_i_B May 2017 OP
OnDoutside May 2017 #1
Denzil_DC May 2017 #2
T_i_B Aug 2017 #4
Denzil_DC Aug 2017 #5
Denzil_DC Nov 2017 #6
T_i_B Jun 2017 #3

Response to T_i_B (Original post)

Sat May 6, 2017, 06:58 AM

1. To ape the GW meme.....

Hi, I'm Centrist Politics. Howdya like me now ?

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Response to T_i_B (Original post)

Mon May 8, 2017, 08:47 AM

2. One of the successes in this field in Scotland

has been the website/blog Wings Over Scotland: https://wingsoverscotland.com/about/

Set up in 2011 by occasionally abrasive ex-video games designer and journalist Stuart Campbell (his Twitter feed can be controversial at times), its main focus is Scottish independence, but its methodology is forensically (and often colourfully) picking apart media misreporting and myths from a leftist viewpoint.

The very well-visited blog (250,000 readers a month is not unusual) is crowdfunded, and its annual appeals regularly raise prodigious amounts of money from individual donations very quickly (Wikipedia estimates it's raised over £540,000 since 2013).

Vuelio rated it second only to Order, Order in its annual blog rankings.

In the run-up to the Scottish referendum, Campbell published "The Wee Blue Book", a compendium of myths and their debunking that was widely distributed online and in hard copy and is credited by many with changing minds on the subject of independence. Its approach has been copied by a number of other campaigns, from the group Scotland In Europe to the more controversial Yes California. WOS also funds independent opinion polling from time to time.

WOS's success depends very largely on the skills and personality of Campbell (who does occasionally host paid contributions from other writers), so its use as a model for other groups may be limited, but it's an under-covered success story among the "alt-left" media.

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Response to Denzil_DC (Reply #2)

Sat Aug 26, 2017, 05:33 AM

4. Wings Over Scotland author arrested after woman alleges harassment


The controversial pro-independence blogger Stuart Campbell has been arrested by police after a woman alleged she was the victim of a two-year campaign of online harassment.

Mr Campbell, 49, who runs the Wings Over Scotland website, was arrested last Friday at an address in the Avon and Somerset area and bailed pending further enquiries.

The police said the arrest was “on suspicion of harassment and malicious communications”. It followed a complaint from a woman in her 30s who attended a south London police station. On the day of his arrest, Mr Campbell tweeted: “For sucky reasons totally outwith my control (don't ask), posts on Wings will be very sparse for an unknown period. Sorry, folks.”

Mr Campbell, who was born in Stirling but has lived in Bath since 1991, was the most prominent online campaigner for a Yes vote in the independence referendum.

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #4)

Sat Aug 26, 2017, 08:43 AM

5. There's much speculation about who the alleged harrassee might be.

The Herald article manages to make it all sound very sinister, but the "harassment" involved only Twitter posts, which have not been deleted. Campbell can be inflammatory online (his Wings Over Scotland posts, on the other hand, are much more measured, though no less devastating for media and political figures who get in the firing line), but he generally doesn't have time for sustained campaigns against nonentities, tending to block them instead, and encouraging others to do the same.

It's not likely to be Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, who Campbell is currently suing for defamation (she accused him of homophobia, in print and under privilege from the floor of the Scottish Parliament), but one obvious candidate is a London-based freelancer, Siobhan McFadyen, who wrote a string of articles about Scottish independence and the SNP, in the usual measured tone and with the usual flair for fairness and accuracy, for the Express over the last year or so, and was pilloried by many, including Campbell, for doing so.

She's a candidate not least because during Twitter spats in the aftermath of her articles, she repeatedly resorted to threats of reporting people to the police for the most innocuous exchanges (her Twitter feed is pretty quiet nowadays, and she doesn't seem to have had many articles published recently, so perhaps she needs the attention).

Here's a roundup of the situation late last year from CommonSpace's Michael Gray:

Siobhan McFadyen criticised for “absolute tosh” in journalism row

A WRITER accused of malicious reporting on Scottish politics has continued to threaten criminal action over the response she received online.

Siobhan McFadyen, who has submitted various controversial articles to the Daily Express, was criticised by pro-independence website Wings Over Scotland for misrepresenting the 2014 referendum as containing “widespread outbreaks of violence”.

McFadyen was then mocked online in a wave of messages - at which point she began reporting critics to the police.

... [Twitter] user ‘Commonly Neil’ added: “Siobhan, with respect and putting all enmity aside, I strongly advise you to consider backing away for a while. I think perhaps we all should, out of respect for the enormous hole that is being dug here. Meant kindly.”

“Why are you threatening me? Or are you about to? You're tell[ing] me to do what exactly? I am reporting both these accounts to police. And I mean it this time,” McFadyen replied.


To be clear, the claim of "widespread outbreaks of violence" during the indyref is the height of inflammatory irresponsibility and a demonstrable lie. Amid a wave of allegations from Better Together of misbehaviour by those on the Yes side, Police Scotland had to step in towards the end of the indyref campaign to make a public statement clarifying that in fact there'd been very few reports of anything untoward, and condemning the scaremongering. The situation changed a little on the day after the referendum result, when there was rioting by drunken Unionists in and around George Square in Glasgow, but that's all disappeared conveniently down the memory hole.

The exchange with "Commonly Neil" quoted above is typical of McFadyen's highly strung sensitivity to the merest hint of criticism online at the time (she can dish it out, but ...). Click through below to see the Twitter thread where it happened:

If the complainant isn't McFadyen, I'm at a loss to who it might be, and if it doesn't get thrown out in September when the case against Campbell is reviewed, I'll be surprised.

Maybe not coincidentally, another (less controversial) Scottish pro-independence blog, Bella Caledonia, posted this on Twitter earlier in the week:

Bella Caledonia @bellacaledonia

So somebody's trying to sue Bella for defamation. Can anyone recommend a lawyer, or better is anyone a lawyer?

The more conspiracy-minded have perceived a trend, if not a concerted campaign ...

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #4)

Wed Nov 1, 2017, 07:33 PM

6. The Met took their time, but predictable:

Wings over Scotland blogger faces no action after arrest

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: "Police in Southwark investigated an allegation of online harassment against a woman, aged in her 30s, over the past two years.

"On August 18, a man aged in his 40s was arrested at an address in the Avon and Somerset area on suspicion of harassment and malicious communications.

"He has now been informed that he is released with no further action."


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Response to T_i_B (Original post)

Sun Jun 11, 2017, 05:40 AM

3. This article was written on the premise that Corbyn would lose badly

However, that didn't happen, and if anything websites like The Canary, which played a major part in keeping Corbyn in his job last year have been key players in the online election battle, with articles from places like The Canary and Another Angry Voice often being more widely circulated than election stories from the mainstream Tory press.

I'm still not a fan of such websites. But now more people will be taking a lot more notice of their influence.

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