Neil ‘Troubles’ Mackay’s Big Nightmare: The inside story of Scotland’s teeny far-right

From the Herald’s Writer at Large (anything goes), yesterday:

Extremism is now mainstream. Globally, the far right is shaking democracy to its foundations. How did this happen? To find out, Writer at Large Neil Mackay speaks to Dr Joe Mulhall, one of the world’s leading experts on the far right and a man who risked his life infiltrating extremist organisations in order to discover their plans to seize power.

Scotland has long had its own far right groups from Combat 18 to the National Front and BNP. However, the far right additionally plays into the loyalist-republican divide in Glasgow. There’s also, Mulhall says, “a question about what happens with broader Scottish nationalism”.

The SNP, he says, “is progressive and much softer than the sort of nationalism you see in England but, of course, there are elements to any form of nationalism which have a xenophobic edge to them”. Recently, overt anti-English xenophobia was displayed by hardline Scottish nationalists at the border over Covid. The Alba Party was described as “a bekilted ally – of Faragism”. Mulhall says: “Let’s see [what happens] when there’s a second referendum.”

Scotland has long had its own far right groups from Combat 18 to the National Front and BNP?

Really? There is not one mention of Scotland on the extensive and heavily referenced wikipedia page on Combat 18.

‘We’ do have Combat 18 and Adolf Hitler disciple Connor Ward who was captured with a stun gun, knuckle dusters, knives, metal bars, ball bearings and rocket tubes. Ward, a former psychiatric patient, claimed he was suffering from mental illness at the time:

And there is Jamie Hunter of Larkhall (I know). His dad is one too, it seems:

That’s two of them in only 5.4 million Scots!

Again, according to wikipedia, the National Front had 32 branches, none in Scotland and was opposed to any form of Scottish Nationalism.

In 2007, the BNP contested 32 Scottish seats. No deposits were saved.

The SNP is just a softer form but any form of nationalism will have a xenophobic edge? Really? Heard of Civic Nationalism Neil? Understand the concept? Clearly not.

Alba Party is bekilted Faragism? Where is the evidence. Salmond is long-term opponent of imperialism and McAskill has written books on working-class history. Farage did say something positive about Alba. Is that all the evidence Mackay has.


Mackay is clearly bored in Scotland. He made up this scare story in 2020:

A person posing for the camera

Description automatically generated

Neil Mackay may be ‘Scotland’s Columnist of the Year but he’s feck all use as an investigative reporter. Does ‘columnist just mean ‘blether?’ This is pathetic clickbait to make us anxious and cling to the Union but based on only a tiny number of street thugs, his own memories of life in Northern Ireland before the Good Friday Agreement and the notion planted in his head by Lord George Robertson, of ‘Dark Forces.’

Robertson’s warnings were soon dismissed as guff aimed at panicking the electorate in the run-up to the Referendum. Though former Secretary General at NATO, Robertson had no evidence to offer. Mackay has only this melodramatic literary guff:

Now, though, something is stirring in the darkest recesses of Scotland’s soul and it’s ugly. At the weekend, we had yet another display of sectarian hatred imported from my country and played out on the streets of Glasgow. There were arrests and a police officer was injured after a Republican march and a Loyalist counter-demonstration clashed.

Read that opening sentence again. Can you believe it? It’s not just guff in terms of being utter fantasy its also terrible writing. Even Dan Brown might reject it as being ‘too much.’ If Mackay wanted to tell us something true, he might have had a look at evidence from official statistics and/or from a respected academic researcher like, say, Professor Sir Thomas Martin Devine OBE FRSE FBA. Here’s Devine in the Mackay’s host, the Herald, in 2018:

‘SECTARIANISM is in decline and claims of widespread anti-Catholicism in Scotland are “unhelpfully alarmist”, according to the country’s leading intellectual, Professor Sir Tom Devine. The University of Edinburgh historian claims there is little chance of coming up against religious prejudice in 2018, apart from at Old Firm matches, and accused politicians and church leaders of “brazenly spreading fear” and reinforcing “victimhood” among Catholics.’

Might Devine have based his words on empirical evidence? Well, yes. Who’d have thought it? Is that how you get to be a prof? Here is some official evidence from 2015 (latest):

‘In contrast to the strong perceptions of sectarianism in Scotland, there is evidence to show that personal experiences of it are relatively uncommon in terms of harassment, discrimination and criminal victimisation. Over recent years the SCJS has reported relatively low levels of sectarian crime. In 2008/09 1% of crimes were thought to be motivated by sectarianism, falling to 0.5% in 2009/10. In 2010/11 it was 1% while in 2012/13 (the most recently available figure) it was again 1%. Religious hate-crime accounted for around 10% of all hate crime charges in Scotland in 2013-14 (racial hate-crime accounted for 69%) and is at its lowest level since 2009-10.’

Mackay’s sense of reality has clearly been damaged by his earlier life in Northern Ireland. He has written: ‘How Scotland became a refuge for a boy lost in the Troubles.’

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is untitled-16.png

5 thoughts on “Neil ‘Troubles’ Mackay’s Big Nightmare: The inside story of Scotland’s teeny far-right

  1. How dare this guy attempt to liken the SNP to xenophobic English racists.
    These story tellers have a problem with the word national, somehow they cannot use it without adding the ist at the end in order to attempt to portray the Scottish people as narrow and inward looking, all in the hope it scares people away from supporting the SNP. The two man flag holding protest at the border, hardly constitutes ‘anti English xenophobia’, if anything it was about making a point about Scotland being a nation unable to close their own border to minimise the spread of a deadly virus.
    You are correct John, terrible writing too, he says ‘overt’, so what would he have people do, covertly protest? Scotland’s SNP MP’s are often treated by the BritNats in WM with ‘overt’ xenophobia, with comments like, ‘go back to your crofts ha ha’, and such hate filled bile is all too common. It’s indicative of the xenophobia towards Scotland, at the highest level of government in England, normalising the othering of the people of Scotland. Scotland is international in outlook, but those who would have it otherwise, will do all they can to take Scotland backwards, to the days of self hate and of hopelessness , where certain factions can get a hold and control people in order to divide and rule. Scotland must never allow them to do so. Scotland is taking back control, and Mr. Mackay doesn’t like it, well tough.

    Liked by 8 people

  2. We must accept that “Neil” (not his real name, obviously) risked his mental wellbeing by infiltrating the shady world of extremist Brit Nat newspapers to discover their nefarious plans for Boris to cling on to power.
    Alas, “Neil” has been undercover for far too long, and seems think think he is coming, when he is going; up is down; and the seesaw is turning round and round.

    “I am the Starwars,
    I am the DRossy,
    I am the eggman,

    Goo-goo b’joob”!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Neil ‘Troubles’ Mackay is simply indulging in the age-old colonial practice of misdirection. If he’s concerned about rising fascism, then he should be focused on Westminster’s turn to populist and xenophobic majoritarianism.

    Whiteness, populism and the racialisation of the working class in the United Kingdom and the United States

    Click to access 7829.pdf


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.