Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Girl with the Edinburgh Tattoo

If Yes Scotland has been hacked by anybody in the media and/or attached to the opposition to Scottish Independence that is a very serious matter indeed. Nobody would give you an Argument about that.

However it seems to me we are a million miles from anybody proving that to be the case.

It seems we can accept, for the Polis are still investigating something, that the Yes Scotland internal IT has been accessed remotely by somebody. The suggestion from the Daily Record at least is that this was somebody outwith the UK.

And, eh..... that's all we can accept.

Certain sections of Nationalist opinion have always been given to a touch of paranoia but generally the leadership have realised that giving credence to conspiracy theorists is inclined to be counter-productive. The overwhelming number of conspiracy theories, of any sort, turn out to be just that; theories. And the general public has a certain view of those who subscribe to them. It is not a benign view.

Some time ago there was a good humoured twitter competition aimed at coming up with the best title for a Scottish Spy Novel. The winner, from @daftquine, was "The Girl with the Edinburgh Tattoo."

The real book giving rise to her spoof does of course features a central character who is, amongst other talents, an accomplished computer hacker. She has a circle of hacking friends. They help her unravel the novel's mystery but their activities are also undertaken for fun, for the sheer hell of it. Although this is fiction, it is common knowledge that such people exist in real life.

The information they access would often be of great commercial or other use to some but they're not interested at all in that. Their  fun is derives from the intellectual challenge of overcoming supposed unovercomeable security.

Who's to say that's not what (if anything) has happened to Yes Scotland?

One solitary piece of "counter-evidence" is produced. That information relating to a minor payment for a newspaper article "could only" have come from hacking of an email account belonging to Blair Jenkins.

Well, firstly, there is no "could only" about this. The email need not have been the original source of the leak at all. The only people claiming, definitively, that it was are Yes Scotland. The information about the payment could have come into the public domain in any number of ways. It is an open secret that there are many in and around Yes Scotland who are far from gruntled at the way the campaign is being run and at the performance of Mr Jenkins at its head. Or, more innocently, Dr Bulmer might have told a "friend" he'd received the payment, or indeed Mr Jenkins told a "friend" that he'd made it. Indeed, since Mr Jenkins claims to be completely relaxed about the payment, why wouldn't he have been happy to talk about it to others? Why wouldn't Dr Bulmer, who certainly saw nothing wrong in receiving the payment, have been happy, on getting his round in, to joke that it was Yes Scotland on the bell?

And then secondly, if  "sinister forces" did indeed have access to the Yes Scotland email account, was this the best they could come up with? I can certainly think of other things the press would be much more interested in, such as the genesis and funding of "Labour for Indy" or indeed the true number of people who have signed the Yes Scotland Declaration. And why choose something that reflected badly only really on Mr Jenkins, a man most Unionists would be delighted to have remain in place?

Finally, anybody whose ever read a spy story knows that the value of intelligence is in the other side not knowing you've got it. If "sinister forces" had undisclosed access to the Yes Scotland email account, why blow the secret over a minor story that would have been a ten day wonder, thirteen months out from the vote? That's hardly the actions of a latter day George Smiley.

Now, I accept everything I've said above is just speculation. But so is everything said so far by Yes Scotland. Let's just let the Polis do their job and avoid conclusions until they have.

And then , as I say, if Yes Scotland has been hacked by anybody in the media and/or attached to the opposition to Scottish Independence that is a very serious matter indeed. And if it has not, Yes Scotland would have avoided looking like conspiracy theorists.


  1. Ian Smart's latest offering is as ill-informed as ever. With reasoning that is as bad as the spelling and grammar.

    For a start, the Sunday Times - no friend of the campaign to restore Scotland's rightful constitutional status - is today reporting that the "cyber attack" on Yes Scotland could have been ongoing for several months with perhaps thousands of emails being illegally accessed -

    I'm curious how Mr Smart knows that the single email account he imagines to be the only one involved belonged to Blair Jenkins. I don't recall having seen that mentioned anywhere else. But, of course, I could have missed this.

    Less easy to explain is how Mr Smart comes to be aware of precisely what information was in the possession of the journalist whose enquiry sparked this whole affair. He (Ian Smart) confidently asserts that this journalist knew no more than might have come to light by means other than illegally accessing email. He seems quite positive that the journalist had no information that could only have come from the email in question and/or did not let slip this incriminating material when he spoke to Yes Scotland. How could he be so sure without knowing exactly what information that email contained; what was known to the journalist; and what the journalist conveyed to Yes Scotland?

    This suggests, although perhaps no more suggests, that Mr Smart may be closer to this affair than he lets on. Although it could also be that he has simply filled in the gaping voids in his knowledge with stuff that he's concocted. He seems to have a tendency to do this.

    There's the "argument" - if that's not too ennobling a term for such piffle - that claims of large-scale hacking are not credible because such an operation would surely have uncovered more juicy tit-bits to serve the malign purposes of Project Fear. What Mr Smart is blind to - among many other things - is the fact that the juicy tit-bits he refers to are no more than figments of his own imagination. An imagination known to be severely warped by intellect-crippling, hate-fuelled prejudice.

    It doesn't even occur to Mr Smart that nothing of interest to the British nationalist cause was found because there's nothing to find. There has to be something. Even if it must be spun from the threads of his own hatred and resentment.

    Finally, there is the claim that if "sinister forces" had illegal access to Yes Scotland's email they would not reveal the fact for the sake of the Bulmer "story". There are at least a couple of things wrong with this "reasoning".

    It assumes that these "sinister forces" (coincidentally, a very apt euphemism for Project Fear) considered the story trivial. This is completely contradicted by the reaction to the "revelations" from the anti-independence campaign. A reaction which has sought to portray a perfectly legitimate and transparent transaction as the most heinous crime to be documented since since the Nuremberg trials.

    Mr Smart also misses the fact that the exposure of the hacking operation was evidently accidental. A far from minor point that one might have expected would be immediately apparent to even the less acute "legal mind". But such is the prejudice which afflicts this mind that it can only picture opponents of Scotland's independence as righteous geniuses pitted against the "evil" of those who aspire to nothing more than that Scotland should enjoy the constitutional status that other nations take for granted.

    Altogether a pretty pathetic effort. But credit where it's due. At least it is mercifully less long-winded than the deposit Mr Smart customarily leaves on our virtual footpath of a Sunday evening.

  2. Mr Bell - You lost it when you said 'Murdochs Sunday Times' "no friend of the campaign to restore Scotland's rightful constitutional status" , who was it that organised the 2 very suspect Panelbase polls ?

  3. "Mercifully less long-winded".