2007 - 2022

Bella Caledonia 2007-2017

Thanks to everyone for their support over the years, to the board members and writers who gave their time and to everybody who supported us financially and who took part in the debate.

Couldn’t quite manage to do it.


Comments (65)

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  1. Martin Meteyard says:

    What??!! Surely you’re not chucking in the towel now?

  2. Mrs Hurtle says:

    Yes, this does sound ominous. Is the next word “Goodbye”?

  3. ken McDonald says:

    Don’t it always seem to go
    That you don’t know what you’ve got
    ‘Till it’s gone

  4. Shaun says:

    Wait… WHAT?

  5. Redgauntlet says:

    Bella, I think I owe you 100 quid. Let me make that payment now. Let’s hope others do the same.

    Don’t chuck in the towel, Mike: we need you.

  6. SheenaJ says:

    You are doing a grand job. We are nearly at the finish line please don’t give up now. Scotland needs you now.

  7. Ian says:

    Mike, please don’t do anything rash. At least please make another post and reassure us that you are personally OK. Take care.

  8. Jim Hunter says:


  9. David anderson says:

    I for one one would be slightly disappointed but certainly wouldn’t join in any ‘please don’t go’ chorus. Folks can choose to do as they please and good luck with any future project. Must say though, the so-called Scottish left does a good job of choking each other in some kind of perpetual death grip. I looked at the Bella twitter feed for the first time in over a year and it just confirmed that for me. Good luck though, it did have some good writing at times.

  10. DialMforMurdo says:

    I’m presuming you’ve been hacked. Bella’s too important to just fold with a mere whimper.

      1. DialMforMurdo says:

        Cheers feller. Ah the vagaries of a life lived online.

  11. hamish says:

    Surely not ?

  12. Eleanor Ferguson says:

    I’m hoping you are not saying what I think you are!

  13. c rober says:

    Either its the Russians , or its a suicide note and Mike will be found in a Holdall.

  14. interpolar says:

    This has got to be a hack.

    1. Martin Meteyard says:

      I’m not so sure. Could be January blues – I remember a similar announcement from Mike at this time a few years ago. Thankfully an outpouring of support then persuaded him to continue. May be more difficult this time? But we love you Mike and we need Bella to continue at this critical time – just tell us what it would take.

      1. interpolar says:

        Well, if the Board/Mike decide to give it another shot, I’ll be putting £100 out there at the next fundraiser. More could be negotiated.

        I think Bella is just too valuable to let disappear.

  15. Karma Lane says:

    Goodbye, you ridiculous bastards!

  16. Alan Bissett says:

    Love reading and contributing to Bella. If this is goodbye, you’ll be sorely missed. x

  17. Nationwide says:

    Bella has been essential, constructive, creative, even for those of us who don’t aspire to independence.

  18. David Grant says:

    Mike, I hope you’ll reconsider.

    Things are just about to get interesting.

    Tell your readers what is needed to keep B.C. going in clear terms, and perhaps things can come together.

    Wishing you the best, whatever your decision,
    David Grant

  19. Gordon Cuthbertson says:

    Bella was/is the best of the pro Indy sites. Thanks for all your work over the years. This is really awful news. Shite!

  20. Sandra Ross says:

    What? Not now? Someone help keep this going!

  21. Patrick says:

    Certainly , I do not think the reason is a lack of funding, and if more by the British secret service intimidation, because independence is a fact. And Brexit a real disaster.

    math le
    Hej då

  22. Kenneth meldrum says:

    I want to donate


    1. Jac Gallacher says:

      Anyone wanting to donate or set up a monthly payment can do so on her on the donations page. If many of us donate £1 monhly or would make a huge difference. The donate button gives you a one off or monthly option.

  23. Mr H says:

    What’s the point in offering your £100, or any money for that matter? If they wanted to try to stay afloat they’d have run a fundraising campaign and everyone would already be aware of the impending sinking ship. The mere fact that this comes as a surprise to everyone is indicative that they’ve just given up; that they don’t want it to go on. This site has over 7000 subscribers, but zero advertising revenue, appearing to rely on donations alone — is it really a shock that it has sunk? The site is unbearably slow, so there’s clearly a lack if investment in their hosting solution too. Great writing maybe, but the digital strategy leaves a little to be desired.

  24. Chris Ballance says:

    Mike – Couldn’t quite manage to do it? Over ten years you’ve constantly changed the course of online political info & discourse in this country, and always set the high bar. I wish I’d managed to do half of what you’ve managed over the last ten years (to say nothing of the Fife Diet before that).
    If you’re feeling scunnered because you’ve been having to get by on a shoestring because we, you readers, haven’t been supporting you enough, then I’m truly sorry -in my case it was because I hadn’t realised the situation was quite that on the edge (everyone’s always crying out for money on the net, and always still getting by), and will happily chip in if it will help save Bella.
    But if this is a move on from Bella days – and that must have been a difficult decision – then I’ll watch with great interest to see where your genius resurfaces, and with what in its hands.
    Thanks mate,

  25. Trueseeing says:

    Bellas contribution is invaluable. Without you there would be a massive gap in an already sadly imbalanced media desert. Please rethink and find a way to keep this vital resource available, especially at such a crucial time!

  26. Alasdair MacLennan says:

    It’s never over until the …… sings or we get our independence!

  27. Lynsey says:

    Folks if we all set up a monthly DD I am sure we can save it. As little as £1 per month is possible and it all adds up, giving regular income – which is the key. Just go to the Donate page. Please!

  28. Jo says:

    I hope this doesn’t come to pass Mike.

  29. kate macleod says:

    i wish the site wasn’t closing, it’s unique in its attempt to pull so many strands of culture and language and politics and versions of national identity together, and then situate it in the world, but i hope you get good/better future work if it really is.
    mr small probably has the cultural contacts to be a very interesting director of the edinburgh festival for instance if they ever let scottish people run it.

  30. Davina Merry says:

    Surely this can’t be Bella is important but whatever you decide Mike please keep posting

  31. c rober says:

    It really is a bit of a bummer , I dont like the bent on WOS , or any other soapbox thats a party affiliate either for indy or servitude , I dont use twitter for politics as for only hain 140 chars , well , you only need 5 for that kind of nondebate – to say shite or right.

    The last Email I had with Mike was about the sock puppets and how to move the forum aspect of “reply” onwards , with perhaps a layout and software upgrade evolution , preventing anonymous trolls , which as a personal experience takes more time and energy than you think as an editor/referee/nanny – never mind as a contributor.

    Even with the billions facebook has , and the coding talent , it still hasnt got their platform as a proper lecture style open forum right – so its not just about the software and server cost.

    The older free BB forum style works far better imo as an open soapbox , typical server costs less than a ton a year unless your traffic is uber , with auto ban , logging , swear box , where all addons are free and automated . But a BB style doesnt offer a “magazine style” look and feel for the couch ipad…. which is what BC is , was , looking for.

    Of course in order to remain impartial politically , other than contributions , BC has avoided taking advertising revenue , the normal income for old media , and new alt media outlets.Its a rock and a hard place – professionalism means wages , wages need funding – so thats a pay wall , advertising , or both.

    The overall costs of running a normal website are relatively cheap , its the personal costs in man hours that are the problem once you use it as an open forum , but if that workload is shared its less of a problem. I think they tried a guest editor thing for a while , but it didnt work out , thus back to one ed soon after.

    Then perhaps some new media Graduates wanting an internship before becoming the journo “whore for hire” , then able to put BC on their blank CV , is the editor answer? Or those retired ones wanting to address their wrongs – but I fear they never retire , only put away their daggers until reactivated and put into service again.

    Seriously though , how about integrating a weekly editor spot from our Uni and colleges students studying media/journo for some extra credit? Same with coding a new site layout , even a pay wall based on an sms txt payment – a literal “heres my two pence worth” as the price to access the topic reply section – even if just for preventing anonymous trolls? The last one is surprisingly easy at the coding level , well for a decent coder , one better than myself , and may also generate a minor amount of income.

    Over the years I have been enlightened , entertained and educated by bc and its contributors … as well as offering hopefully some of the same in return.

    “Ciao bella” , Mike , and thanks for all the fish.

  32. Drew Campbell says:

    So shocked and sorry to hear this. Mike’s dedication has been amazing. Bella has been a beacon in the independence debate, and for the Left furth of Scotland.

    I don’t know if Bella can survive, but I want to wish Mike and all concerned future success. Thoughtful, intelligent, radical journalism such as yours is more important than ever.

  33. Suzy says:

    Why not say you need funding and ask for help rather than just anounce you’re stopping? I would have contributed money but obviously no point now. It’s a real shame.

  34. Edwin Moore says:

    As a Yoon I was never part of your target market but even so there were excellent pieces on Bella. A civilised forum to comment on also.

    All best wishes to Mike Small, an excellent editor. You can be proud of what you achieved here Mike.

    1. Alan Bissett says:

      A gentlemanly thing to say, Edwin, well done.

  35. Graeme Purves says:

    I very much hope that the Board will be able to find a way forward.

  36. Mark says:

    Why is there no crowdfunder in place to test the audience appetite to ‘put up or shut up’?
    I would have thought that would be the way to go at this moment in time.
    I do also believe some sort of arts funding could be a realistic ambition given the breadth of material that appears on Bella.
    Like others have said, we will within 2 years be in another referendum campaign and need a breadth of alternative media that without Bella will be considerably narrowed down.
    I was critical of the editorial stance at last years Scottish GE, but would hope we’re collectively mature enough for that not to have been the straw that ultimately broke Bella.
    Be good to hear an update from you given the response so far.

    1. Thanks Mark, the board is meeting tomorrow to try and find a way forward.

      1. Martin Meteyard says:

        The problem seems to be the absence of a viable financial/business model to keep Bella going, rather than any significant dropping off in support for the editorial approach. The occasional crowdfunding appeal clearly hasn’t proved sufficient. I’d suggest that the advisory board could maybe convene a (half day?) session for interested supporters to explore what a sustainable model might look like. I’d certainly be happy to contribute to that if available.

    2. Hi Mark
      thanks – you can support us here: https://dev.bellacaledonia.org.uk/support/

      We have a board meeting tomorrow and will try a find way forward.

  37. Elaine Fraser says:

    Huge respect and admiration for Mike Small and the team. Very sad to hear this and willing to contribute. New media vital but perhaps he needs a break or a new chapter in his life. Have come to expect Bella to always be there at a time and place that suited me. Whatever happens now I would like to offer my immense gratitude and best wishes for the future. ( but come back soon!)

  38. Henry Holland says:

    Dear Mike Small, also wish to express my immense gratitude for all that you’ve achieved through your work for Bella Caledonia. When you write, “couldn’t quite manage it”, I couldn’t DISAGREE more. It is phenomenal what you & others working regularly with you have managed through B.C. over the last 10 years. The writing has consistently been of a better quality, and has been more gutsy and intellectually ambitious in terms of discourses you have engaged with, then much writing produced by salaried / regularly paid journalists writing for The Scotsman and The Herald. A single proposal: a the Advisory Board are promoting an “urgent funding appeal”, could (as others posting have suggested) a target sum be named, and a max. time period to raise this money? Otherwise readers will feel deterred from donating, if they sense that the advisory board & yourself have decided to close up shop, come what may. In case BC does not continue, I would seriously support all donations made after your announcement on January 8 being channelled into a one-off “pension” payment to yourself. Even if the size of this payment could only be symbolic, in relation to the years of work you’ve put in. You would, at the least, deserve this.

  39. Mathew says:

    i hope this isn’t the end for Bella. I would also like to add my thanks for all the great work Mike and the Bella team have done over the years.

  40. Grant Buttars says:

    Sorry to hear this Mike. Bella has blazed a trail for citizen journalism in Scotland and enriched the debate momentously as a result.

  41. Richard MacKinnon says:

    I think I have a solution. Bella Caledonia should now become a unionist supporting website.
    The logic goes as follows.
    No won. We, Scotland, should, as I have said on numerous occasions on this site, now accept the result as it is the right and decent thing to do. We, Scotland, should go further than accept the result, we should embrace it. Why? because we have been a union with the English for 300 years, and now we have had our referendum and decided to remain we should throw ourselves totally into the union with our neighbours 100%. We have dithered too long. They have been patient with us. England deserves a fully committed partner.
    This is where there is a place for Bella in the shaping Scotland’s future in the UK. Bella should now be the site that campaigns for the abolition of the Scottish parliament. It should pick up and focus on the irrelevance of the institution. Bella should now highlight the fact that devolution was a process but has now (because of the rejection of independence) come to the end of the road and has become an unnecessary, expensive vanity project.
    If Bella was to take on this project it would do a great service to Scotland because in the future (2/3 years) the irrelevance that is Holyrood is going to become ever more obvious. Holyrood’s inconsequence will turn our MSPs into caricatures of parliamentarians; eunuchs watching others do what they are unable to do themselves. When salaries and running costs are factored in the institution will become an embarrassment.
    Please Bella Caledonia your country needs you like never before.

    1. James Mills says:

      You are the very reason outlets like Bella are needed .

  42. John O'Dowd says:

    Just catching up with this awful news. I am entirely with Henry Holland in this. Bella -and you Mike – are a massive adornment to Scotland – and a hugely important part of the struggle for radical independence and freedom for our beloved country and its mis-used people.

    My reservations with Henry’s comments are with those that refer to closing up shop.

    This surely cannot happen. What you have done with Bella, Mike, along with the Board, is an enormous achievement – and cannot minimise the pressures you will have endured, and the enormous toll such responsibilities must take on any human frame -and on one’s family.

    I have little doubt that you will have endured much for this mighty cause.

    I wish you well in whatever direction your life now takes you – but I really do hope that you and the Board can find a way to keep going.

    With my very best and warmest wishes.

  43. Douglass MacGilvary says:

    I am sure a sustainable financial model can be found!

    We can’t leave our future for he mail or express to decide, Bella is critical to provide balance and new ideas!

    1. douglas clark says:

      Well, if everyone set up a modest standing order then Mike may have a regular income. I have offered the derisory £5 a month on the basis that that is all I can guarantee. Others might me able to offer much more.

      This citizen journalism stuff is, sadly, not free. The people providing it require an income. Mike, whom I disagree with as much as I agree with is a superb editor and citizen journalist. Frankly it is a breath of fresh air.


      Hands in pockets, boys and girls!

  44. Gareth Jenkins says:

    Bella has been the most thought-provoking pro independence website over the past few years, and I have really appreciated it. I hope it can not only survive, but grow in strength. We need thoughtful, critical analysis more than ever.

  45. Douglas Scott says:

    And I thought the Donald Trump result was depressing –
    this is even more of a shocker!
    Thanks for 10 wonderful years Mike
    Very best wishes for your future

  46. hamish says:

    Craig Murray has made an offer – https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/

  47. MBC says:

    Huge respect to you for everything you have done Mike. You have achieved an enormous amount and I would hate to think it was just money that has caused you to think about chucking it all in, because there must be many thousands of us regular readers like me who would gladly chip in. If that is what is being asked? Maybe you just need a rest, or maybe you have felt hurt by those who sometimes criticised some of the articles you posted which appeared critical of the Scottish Government? I never felt you deserved that abuse, we can all disagree as to tactics, and nothing or nobody should ever be above criticism. I guess that includes everyone and we’d have to agree to include ourselves in that. But criticism ought to be constructive. And it also ought to be polite and courteous.

    One of the great limitations of social media, not often spoken of, is that we don’t so much speak as write, and we don’t hear, we read.

    Therefore it is often difficult to gauge the emotional tone of contributors, so that it is indeed very easy to offend and to take offence. This leads to a frequent coarsening of debate which is the opposite of enlightenment and can be very hurtful to individuals such as yourself who are putting so much in to progressive politics and with whom we readers might not always agree, but who we ought to treat with the utmost respect.

    When I read up on the Scottish Enlightenment in the 18th century, I was struck by how culturally it was accompanied by a discourse on ‘polite’ values, tolerance, and the elevation of feeling. This was a marked sea change in mood from the milieu of the early eighteenth century and seventeenth century which the literati looked back on as an age of darkness and vicious prejudice that had blinded society during the civil wars.

    I came to the conclusion that these traits were actually what defined the Enlightenment more than anything else, and allowed liberal democracy to flourish: far more so than the active spirit of intellectual enquiry. Because it was only by tempering language that difficult subjects involving strong emotions and deep-seated prejudices could be tackled ‘rationally’. So the behaviour change had to come before the intellectual change.

    I haven’t always agreed with you either, but neither have I felt as some here have, the inclination to be hostile. I wouldn’t expect to agree with anyone 100%, not even my most dearly beloveds, so for me it’s no issue. I can agree to disagree. I can only say that this must be true of many others who also disagree but don’t go on the attack about it either and stay silent out of courtesy and respect. So please don’t feel wounded by the minority who do.

    It’s a very nerve racking time for all of us in the Indy movement, with great things possible to be forever lost or forever gained. Many are anxious and uncertain as to tactics. It generates a huge amount of emotion. It’s far more important to agree on values and final goals. Tactics will gradually become clear as the dust of major events beyond our shores settles.

    And everyone should be prepared to receive courteous, friendly, constructive criticism as well as give it. Respect. Have a rest and come back fortified.

    1. Thanks very much MBC. If you’d like to donate you can here: https://dev.bellacaledonia.org.uk/support/

      We’re trying to re-structure things so its not a solo operation and has a more resilient base.

      I agree with you about the writing and not listening. There’s many people I disagree with in this movement and I’ll try and either let them do what they’re doing or engage constructively. Thanks again for your message of support, it means a lot.

  48. hamish says:

    I will endeavour to make donations through the bank. On a regular basis if I can !

  49. Gordon Peters says:

    Really sad new year news Mike. Bella has helped influence people I know in london and south too, where I live. Really hope it can keep going.
    Very best to yourself in whichever guise next.

  50. Pam says:

    Have you managed to keep going ?

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