A proper conversation about online behaviour

If we’re going to talk about bad behaviour and abusive and threatening language in online discourse, and what to do about it, we need to do it properly.  That means that we can’t isolate out bad behaviour from independence supporters online and claim that there’s a specific problem proper only to one side in Scotland’s constitutional debate while we ignore everything else that goes on online. Bad behaviour on social media is not unique to independence supporters, nor even to those who oppose it.

It is not whataboutery to point out that bad behaviour exists elsewhere online. It is simply the observation that poor behaviour, abusive language, threats, insults, and slurs is a characteristic of a minority of people on social media as a whole. You can’t isolate out one area of discussion and propose that it requires a unique treatment when the behaviour in that one area of discussion is a symptom of a much bigger and more systemic problem. The point here is that it is not online debate about Scottish independence which is problematic. This is not an issue confined to the Scottish constitutional debate. Problems of abuse and threatening behaviour are a feature of social media as a whole, and therefore we need a solution which tackles the root causes, not isolated symptoms.

Trying to solve issues of poor behaviour online and restricting discussion to the behaviour of one side in Scotland’s constitutional debate is rather like a doctor who is confronted with a patient suffering from chickenpox, and deciding that only one pustule needs to be treated. It’s not going to work, the doctor is not going to cure anything, because the problem is not the pustule itself, it’s the underlying disease. Even if they were, somehow, able to get rid of just that one particular pustule, if they don’t deal with the underlying illness it’s just going to pop back up again and all their efforts will have been for naught. Yet that’s precisely what we’re being invited to do in discussions about the poor behaviour of a small minority of independence supporters on social media.

It’s not merely erroneous that the entire independence movement is expected to take responsibility for the behaviour of an abusive minority in a way that our opponents are not expected to take responsbility for the poor behaviour of the very real fascists, sectarian bigots, and far right extremists who infest the ranks of opposition to Scottish independence. That galling double standard is bad enough.

The real error is expecting that we can have a conversation about, and find a remedy for, the poor behaviour of a minority of independence supporters on social media by ripping it out of the wider context of behaviour on social media in general. That is an exercise in futility which only benefits opponents of independence because it reinforces the narrative that it’s only the independence movement which has a problem. It has to be said that the reason that we are constantly being invited to treat the online behaviour of Scottish independence supporters as being especially and uniquely problematic is because it suits opponents of independence and Scotland’s overwhelmingly anti-independence media for us to do so.

The reality is that it does not matter what the topic is, where you have a difference in opinion, a minority of people on social media will use that as a justification for abuse, for insults, for racist, sexist or homophobic or other kinds of slurs, even for making death threats. Women are particular targets of online abuse no matter what the topic of discussion. That’s a symptom of the wider sexism and misogyny of society. Likewise, minorities are targeted. Gay people receive homophobic abuse. Black people receive racist abuse. None of this is anything that’s caused by issues which are unique to Scottish political debate.

Other areas of debate are equally prone to a minority who abuse and who indulge in threatening behaviour. There is an ongoing debate about gender self-ID, this debate has minorities on both sides who toss about insulting language, threatening behaviour, and abuse. Likewise the Brexit debate has a minority, on both sides, who behave equally reprehensibly. Corbyn supporters are frequently accused by their political opponents as being especially badly behaved online, and their opponents are not always lamb-like in their innocence. None of these debates have anything to do with Scottish independence.

In fact, any difference of opinion online will lead to a minority of social media users behaving in ways that are beyond the bounds of what is considered normal and acceptable behaviour in other spheres of human interaction. This occurs because on social media people can be anonymous. There is no immediate consequence for insulting behaviour the way that there is in a face to face encounter. Social media lacks the inhibiting factors that make us behave far more circumspectly in other contexts.

It doesn’t even need to be a serious issue for passions to run high and behaviour to become reprehensible. We all know about abuse and threats amongst sports fans, and they are after all arguing about a pastime, about men kicking a ball about a field. I once witnessed someone making a death threat in a forum for model railway enthusiasts, because some people take the detailing on the latest Hornby model steam locomotive extremely seriously indeed. As a fan of RuPaul’s DragRace I can assure you that a minority of fans of the show get extremely worked up.  They insult and abuse competitors, and each other.  They toss about racist abuse. There have even been bomb threats. And this is about men who put on frocks and wigs as a form of entertainment. It is often sparked off by disagreements about who performed best in a lip-sync.

It has to be said that out in the real world, amongst the local Yes groups, the SNP groups, the Yes Hubs, and the indy groups, people’s behaviour is unfailingly polite, compassionate, accepting, gentle, welcoming, and tolerant. Those are the real characteristics and the real face of the independence movement, not the online arguments and insults of Twitter – which is the only place where most anti-independence journalists encounter independence activism.

All sensible independence supporters, which is the vast majority, welcome polite and respectful discourse. Likewise they welcome attempts to ensure that Scottish political debate is respectful and polite. After all, the kind of Scotland we seek to build is going to be determined by the kind of campaign we mount in order to achieve it. We want a kinder and gentler Scotland, and that means that we welcome kinder and gentler behaviour.

However we can only tackle poor behaviour online by looking at it in all its aspects, over all topics and fields of debate. We need to examine how the anonymity of social media facilitates abuse and threatening behaviour. We need to tackle the sexism, racism, homophobia, sectarianism, and other forms of discrimination which pervade society and infect online discourse. We all need education in how best to identify and deal with online trolls who seek to provoke, upset, and derail.

However one thing is certain. We will not solve anything by falling into the trap of slavishly following our opponents’ politically motivated insistence that there’s a problem unique to the Yes movement. This is a far bigger issue. Let’s stop pretending that it’s something that only Scottish independence supporters need to beat themselves up for.

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43 comments on “A proper conversation about online behaviour

  1. Well said, Paul
    As you know, because we have met, I am a real person, that’s my name, I’m in the book, and would welcome a chat with anyone.
    Earlier I called out Ruth Davidson on her ‘vacuous’ speech at their Aberdeen Jamboree, where 200 or so mainly aged Blue Tories gathered (in the darkness?) but the Resurrection of Born Again Brexit Ruth received unbelievably wide coverage by an obliging Establishment press and broadcasting pack.
    There was nothing of any content in her warm and fuzzy speech, which insulted our intelligence and did nothing to provide words of comfort and hope for our citizens who are suffering intolerable and unnecessary harm at the hands of a Government not of our choosing.
    I refuse to stay silent while the Blue, and Red, and Beige Tories, normalise charity and foodbanks as an alternative to a civic society, a country in which politicians serve, rather than line their pockets while 230,000 children go hungry.
    Corbyn is now backing Brexit and WMD.
    We voted 62% to Remain, yet Mundell and, no I can’t recall the name of the Shadow Red Tory SoS, it begins with an ‘L’ I think, do nothing to protect the citizens of Scotland, but do everything to drag us out of Europe and plunge us into Rees Mogg/Farage/ Johnson/Gove/Fox hell.
    I am sure that I may be considered rude, but hardly crude.
    I have threatened no one on line, but call out cant and hypocrisy when I see it every time.

    Paul, you are on the money.
    MacKay set up Robertson and the others, to upstage the ‘pointless parade’ (his words).
    More fool them for falling for it.

    I shall continue to ‘go for the jugular’, metaphorically, of course.

    I wear my cybernat, or should that be ‘cyberbat’ badge with pride.
    The Herald seems to have contracted out sub editing to a third year Media studies group.
    Cyberbat indeed.

    • Needed to be said, Paul.
      Good post.
      I’m not going to pretend to be any kind of angel on line; I can be pretty snarky when provoked, but there’s the magic word.
      While I accept this shouldn’t be a ‘he said, she said’ pissing contest it does seem that there is a huge double standard at play here and, certainly on my part that generates the kind of frustration that leads to snark.
      That said, I’ll always call BS when I see it and I’ll call it in a similar form to that in which it was presented.
      I did chuckle when I read the comment about the model railway forum – it’s staggering how het up folks get about even something like that. I speak as somebody who was on the receiving end of a concerted smear and character assassination campaign over, you’ve guessed it; a kit for a model locomotive that never actually got produced, FFS.
      I’ve kept well out the way of hobby politics ever since!

    • Millsy says:

      Jack Collatin is a ”real person ” ..proof provided and accepted .

      Is (T)ruth Davidson a real person or just an invented tool of the SMSM ?

      David Mundell is a myth , I am sure . Was he not a creation of Evelyn Waugh ?

  2. This is brilliant. You are getting really good.

  3. John McLeod says:

    A comment about language in online discourse. I would suggest that one of the difficulties here is around how anger and passion are expressed. Paul’s article basically argues for the use of civil, respectful ways of communicating. This is of course crucially important. But at the same time, there needs to be space to be angry. Right now, I feel angry about the report that has come out on the catastrophic loss of biodiversity. I feel angry about the SNP councillor who called some independence supporters ‘trash’. These are very important feelings to have, and to share with others. It is seriously tragic and awful that the eco-system that sustains us is falling apart. It is also awful that someone who claims to be committed to building a better society should write from such a position of entitlement and disrespect for others. Its not easy for me to convey my anger this morning through the medium of writing in a little text box. I have always seen Paul as a great example of how to convey anger and passion, and even sometimes contempt, in a way that still manages to be compassionate and allow the possibility of dialogue.

    • Illy says:

      This article sums up what I think the problem you are having is:


      Sometimes people are justifiably angry.

    • Muscleguy says:

      I agree in spades about the environment. I’m a PhD Biologist so I get this in not just spades but huge diggers. The quote Douglas Adams the interconnectedness of all things is a beautiful and awe inspiring thing. The Amazon jungle or the Great Barrier Reef may be poster children for biodiversity but a study of the fungal species in soil in a Norwegian old growth forest found different species and combinations in every single square metre they sampled.

      The mud which covers the abyssal plain at the bottom of the oceans hosts an amazing biodiversity of nematode worms. It can sometimes seem as if the creator was a beetle freak there are so many different sorts but in reality it’s nematodes.

      Nematodes in abyssal mud are nobody’s poster children yet they undoubtedly do a lot of good recycling type things and probably hydrocarbon production to boot.

      THIS is why I have always given my List vote in Holyrood elections to the Greens. The environment is a bigger issue than Independence. The threats to biodiversity don’t make me angry, they make unutterably sad. I’m also sad for the ignorant souls of those industrialists who dismiss all this and will never even try to understand it all.

      Those trying to conserve rhinos have realised that over use of veterinary treatments risks removing commensals who live nowhere else than on specific species of rhinos. A rhino is an ecosystem itself and we must conserve the whole of it.

      This is something to blow your mind: nematodes have guts, with gut flora. An uncountable diversity of nematodes each with gut flora . . .

  4. Grant Thoms says:

    Well I have to say I disagree. We have to put our own house in order. Just as I would tackle my family and friends first about abusive behaviour, so too should we. I’m left thinking this is about someone else is expected to sort it all out. Perhaps there is a role for social media outlets to police their users. But venting anger through social media is the equivalent of screaming in a pub or shouting st people in the street. It’s not on. As a movement we are not good at tackling bad behaviour and if you want evidence of it taking place in the SNP and Yes hubs, frankly that’s easy. Burying outlet collective head in the sand is not the answer. Scottish football fans did it despite others (across the border and over the seas) failing. So we are capable of taking a lead.

  5. Robert Louis says:

    Excellent writing.

    This, is the most rational, level-headed discourse I have yet seen on the issue. With every debate, their are nutters on each side, who happily hurl abuse either way. Look at brexit for heaven’s sake.

    It’s about social media, not about independence supporters in isolation

    Somebody please send a copy to Angus Robertson.

  6. Thanks a bunch, ye Vile Cyber Keyboard Warriors, or should that be ‘worriers’ in the case of The Dug?

    “Now at midnight all the agents; And the superhuman crew; Come out and round up everyone; That knows more than they do.”

    Not for the first time, you guys have sent me off on a tangent online for a few hours. That hedge won’t trim itself you know.

    Wings Over Scotland headline yesterday :-

    ‘At midnight all the agents’

    It sent me back 50 odd years, when somebody bought ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ for my 20th Birthday.

    The header is a lift from Dylan’s ‘Desolation Row’ of course, the magnificent 11 minute masterpiece which closes the album.

    The song opens:-

    “They’re selling postcards of the hanging
    They’re painting the passports brown The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
    The circus is in town
    Here comes the blind commissioner
    They’ve got him in a trance
    One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
    The other is in his pants
    And the riot squad they’re restless
    They need somewhere to go
    As Lady and I look out tonight.”

    The ‘hanging’ referred to is reportedly the lynching in Minnesota of three black circus workers falsely accused of rape.
    Apparently Dylan’s father witnessed this atrocity; and post cards were run off and sold.
    Land of the Free in the 1920’s.

    In a week when we cybernats, or is it ‘cyberbats’, according to the Herald Britland, are accused of resorting to vile abusive threatening behaviour, and the integrity of online Chroniclers of truth like WoS, Peat Worrier, Grouse Beater, and the inestimable wordsmithery of Wee Ginger Dug (enough of the ‘aw, shucks’, already ) is called into question by a dime store herald hack, this snippet of Dylan’s catalogue of ‘protest songs’ is a perfect response to the cut and pastry clickbait of the Dead Tree Scrolls.

    I seem to recall that Robert Zinneman changed his name to Bob Dyland as a tribute to Dylan Thomas, and the lyrics of many of Dylan’s songs would sem to bear this out.

    This, from Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood’.

    “Come closer now.

    Only you can hear the houses sleeping in the streets in the
    slow deep salt and silent black, bandaged night. Only you
    can see, in the blinded bedrooms, the coms. and petticoats
    over the chairs, the jugs and basins, the glasses of teeth,
    Thou Shalt Not on the wall, and the yellowing dickybird-watching
    pictures of the dead. Only you can hear and see, behind the
    eyes of the sleepers, the movements and countries and mazes
    and colours and dismays and rainbows and tunes and wishes
    and flight and fall and despairs and big seas of their dreams.
    From where you are, you can hear their dreams.”

    On a daily basis, you band of online brothers and sisters, you urge us all to ‘come closer’, and ‘see behind the eyes of the sleepers, the movements of countries and mazes’, while the Dead Tree Scrollers point to the ‘Thou Shalt Not on the wall’, and bestow upon themselves the authority to relay their Imperial Masters commands and threats to us, the Great Unwashed and Ignorant.

    Where would we be without your untiring devotion to the Truth?
    Come closer, not drift apart. Together we shall prevail.

    • Selkie says:

      Shout, shout against the dying of the light
      Do not go gentle into that good night

      Dylan Thomas

      • Selkie says:

        Misquote, should be,

        Rage, Rage against the dying of the light.

        Some rage is justified

    • crabbitgits says:

      Nice one Jack. “Crabbitgits” isn’t my real name; I did at one time use my birth name online in forums etc like this; however I refuse to do so now, ever since I suffered real and threatening abuse myself for posting a different view than some others. That’s my choice and I will not change it.

      • Therapymum says:

        Nor should you! I understand exactly how you feel, having had a similar experience myself. We all need safety mechanisms, and not providing personal information is an important one, one that Robertson and co forgot about when encouraging others to have a personal photo, profile and location on Twitter. No, no and thrice no! That’s a way to make yourself a target for the unhinged.

        • crabbitgits says:

          Thanks and again for a great post below.

          • Therapymum says:

            Oh thank you! Much appreciated.

            • I am retired now, Duggers.

              When I was earning a crust, I couldn’t have offered any public opinion about any issue; my clients may have deserted me.(I’d have been hung out to dry, my head on a pikestaff.)

              As some know, I travelled the length and breadth of these isles and beyond, selling lucky white heather, wooden clothes pegs,telling fortunes, and sharpening garden tolls, or some such.

              I perfectly understand why some of you youngsters use a Nom De Guerre.

              But we are branded as the cretins who abuse and threaten actual physical harm on line.

              The dime store hack from the Herald set up three prominent SNP Big Hitters and wrote a story which was a perversion, a distortion, alleging that it was Independence supporters who were the cruddy underbelly of the Internet.

              For this calumny, the man (I will not name him) has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is to the Independence Movement what King Herod was to child minding.

              Tens of thousands strolled good naturedly through Glasgow on Saturday, proving beyond doubt that the Movement is alive and well and ready for the off.

              A miserable white haired 200 turned up to worship at the feet of Supermom, May, Javid, and A Fish called Gove, and the hacks and TV pack, who probably made up 80 or so of the 200, splashed the Gathering of the Blue Meanies all over the airwaves and newsprint.

              I have no doubt that they are on war footing, determined to slap down the serfs in their last bountiful colony, Scotland, at any cost.

              They are not even trying to hide the contempt in which they hold the People of Scotland.

              The SNP is the organisation which has the power and resources to fire the starting gun.

              High time they did.

  7. Douglas Deans says:

    Well said Paul.

    There is an irony about the Unionist/Media response to this. Although they decry abusive interaction, a reasoned respectful dialogue is absolutely not in their interests. It does not sell newspapers or protect the Union. It is the last thing they actually want but should be our objective for both ethical and practical reasons.

    The logical argument for the Union is weak; their only chance is to drag us into a fight in the gutter. Once people become angry and fearful all logic and reason goes out the window and tribalism takes over. The video of the woman in George Square shouting abuse at the marchers is a perfect example. She is in full on rage. There is absolutely no chance of her being persuaded when in that state of mind. From the Unionist perspective, job done.

    Our arguments can be forceful but as soon as we trigger that part of the brain dealing with fear and anger (amygdala) the logic switches off and the shutters go down.

    Sometimes there are many watching a debate; rebuttal and positive argument is important so they have a chance to see an alternative. Although we may need to be robust, not only do we need to ‘win’ but we need to ‘win’ gracefully.

    That is why I enjoy your writing and speaking so much. It is powerful but respectful.

    • Douglas Deans says:

      P.S. I’ve just read Illy‘s powerful and illuminating link.
      I don’t think what I’m talking about is Tone Policing, I’m talking about avoiding triggering the level of anger in voters that shuts down thought. It is part of the Unionist armoury and we need to avoid adding to it.

  8. susan says:

    Your last two blogs were great Paul. I feel I’m living in groundhog day, everything repeating the build up to the last referendum with the lies and smears, the double standards and hypocrisy.

  9. Macart says:

    Pretty much and that needed saying.

    Politicians and the media really are quick to use any tool in the box to get their point du jour across. They also love their buzzwords and sloganeering when they lack any credible defence for their own actions or viewpoint. The whole ‘cybernats are eeeeevil’ thing? Still just a tool (cough).

    Though they never seem to describe just what a cybernat is? A question that goes back a few years by this point. Near as I can figure. It’s anyone with interwebby access who doesn’t agree with Westminster governance, believes in Scotland’s right to self determination and then has the neck to say so. Sometimes folk even use harsh language (faints).

    Beside the point though. They’re using a very real issue and taking the broadest possible brush approach to tarring a peaceful and democratic movement. That should tell people all they need to know about those holding said brush.

    As to how folk are feeling? The demonisation and alienation of the YES movement has continued unabated since the run up to the last indyref. No olive branches. No consensus. No apparent intent by the winners of that ballot to heal or help in the intervening years. Just the same old, same old. The narrative from Pro Westminster support, its political class and an already hostile mainstream media have left a LOT of people in the YES movement feeling mentally abused, battered and frustrated after the past few years.

    So. Angry, uncertain, afraid even? Yes. Yes, I’d say that a lot of folk in the YES movement are perfectly human. I’m also betting that given half a chance we’d still vote YES, because now we know what waits on the back of any no vote.

  10. Les Wilson says:

    I am angry about how the SNP fell into the Unionist, well call it a trap. The timing of this was impecable by our opponents, to detract from the success of the fantastic Indy march. So what were the SNP/ Robertson thinking of, they were so easily led into this. It reflected and seemed to support Ruth’s words about the march, it was nothing of the sort she proclaimed it to be. Yet Cybernats are apparently to blame, some people do not face reality I am afraid.

    Yes, there is abuse/ racism online. it is nothing new nor is one particular group, it is as Paul pointed out it in endemic to social media. Across the board that media needs to look at itself and set about creating sensible rules that work. To on purpose, or just accepting the odious reasoning of your opponents hardly makes sense, and they are sure to use what was said against us. An own goal by all standards.

    When considering the narrow issue of Cybernats as they are called or Britnats as they are called, how do they compare in the bad behavious stakes? Well the day after the march I went on Youtube and did find the march which was massively impressive, but I made the mistake of pressing the repeat chat button. Wow, if anyone has thought the “Cybernats” were a problem, they need to check this.
    Every kind of fruitcake Unionist was spouting every kind of abuse about Scots, brown people of every creed, and every other thing they could think of in their desire to ridicule Scottish democracy.
    There were hundreds of them 90% abusive and worse.

    So who in the Unionist side, what unionist media of any kind, will give the real run down oh these people.Well I may have missed something but even today a few days on from the march, I have found nothing that goes near holding these ignorant animals in check. Way worse than the “Cybernats” behave, despite an odd idiot in our ranks.

    All this makes the Angus Robertson/SNP look like patsies who fell for a well concerted attack on Yes supporters, and willingly supported it. Quite baffling I have to say.

  11. Brian Powell says:

    The Citizens Assemblies could tackle this, then folk would need to come forward with real information.
    As it could also tackle sectarianism.

  12. john burrows says:

    I have commented on this elsewhere but feel it bears repeating.

    This must be a first in political history. A party attacking its own supporters two weeks before an election. An act of criminal stupidity that will likely see it loose at least 100,000 voters on May 23.

    The current leadership of the SNP is entirely out of its depth. It has no political nous whatsoever. It seems to prefer approaching political campaigns like they were debates at the Oxford Union – no riff raff allowed.

    Mind boggling ineptitude. Only a miracle will deliver independence from the hands of these fools.

    The First Minster is responsible for this. She had to have authorised these comments. What possible advantage has she won by sacrificing and defenestrating supporters of independence?

    It will be a wonder if there isn’t a mutiny at this strategic misstep. At the very least, she has significantly wounded her own standing within the party by this wanton act of self inflicted harm to her own brand.

    No party leader ever offends their own voters, except as an act of political suicide. Just ask Ms. Dugdale.

    Perhaps Ms. Sturgeon does want that job at the UN after all.

  13. raineach says:

    It’s easy to do. I went out canvassing last night, and I thanked all voters who expressed a Unionist belief, not for their views but their co-operation. It’s basic manners and [I hope]leaves the yoons with a positive view of SNP activists. We should be able to treat our own side with equal courtesy

  14. Therapymum says:

    Thank you Paul!

    I was utterly deflated by the end of Sunday. Firstly the comment by a SNP MP that marching was pointless and we should all be campaigning which would be more use, coming after a successful, peaceful and good humoured march, where the support on the roadside was great, then the cybernats article which was atrocious. I agree there are zoomers everywhere, and the Indy movement has its share, but they are nothing like the bile, bigotry and nastiness that comes from the unionist side. And lastly, watching more and more supporters either cancelling their SNP membership or stating they would vote elsewhere or not at all on 23rd May!

    I could not and still cannot see why those who support Indy should be the only ones to moderate the debate, not least because no other party has made any attempt to bring its supporters into line. They have handed the Indy movement to the media on a platter and opened the SNP to claims of failure when it is unable to “manage” or contain its supporters. The most galling part is that the SNP has not been particularly supportive of the online abuse its female politicians receive, such as Joanna Cherry, Joan McAlpine, Mhairi Black or even Nicola Sturgeon. And as for dumping on the bloggers – how very dare they! When are the SNP going to challenge the lies, misinformation and misdirection that happens on a daily basis? Where is the fact checking service that should be providing supporters with facts and evidence? Nowhere! If it were not for the bloggers and independistas that go out of their way to research, would we even have got as far as we have now?

    Over all, it was the mean spiritedness of Sunday that took my breath away. The only person who offered any support, while stating that his view was unpopular, was Ross Colquhoun, who supported Saturday’s march and seemed to understand the importance of it. But from the rest of the hierarchy – nothing! I was a Labour activist in my younger days and was on the point of offering to help with campaigning locally, but will not now do so. Campaigning for Labour was thankless. I only saw MPs or councillors coming up to election time and I can count on one hand the number of times I was thanked in the 20 years I did it. Sunday took me back to that time. I’m in my 70s so I’m sure there will be others younger and less jaundiced who will do a better job.

    Keep going Paul. You are a light.

    • Millsy says:

      The ‘good’ thing about the cybernats attack was that it was in the Herald , a failing publication , which sells about as many copies now as there are delegates at a Scottish Tory conference !

      Many of the most vitriolic attacks against independence come from publications which , again , have very little reach in mainstream Scotland .
      Even the BBC is losing , not just credibility , but audience share as more and more people see through the propaganda surrounding this anachronistic behemoth .

      Attacks on indy supporters from within their own ranks is far more worrying .
      Or were some of the SNP heavyweights just a trifle naive and got suckerred by a hack after an SNPBAAAD headline ?

      Last point : Why does Nicola Sturgeon not deign to appear at any of the AUOB marches ? The SMSM would find it far more difficult to ignore these events if the Scottish FM was in attendance.
      Or is she afraid that the press will portray her as a Nationalist , an independence supporter ? Sorry to break the bad news , Nicola , but you are leading the Party which purports to have as its raison d’etre Independence !! How else where you supposed to be viewed ?

      Time to really join the fight , Nicola !

  15. See Councillor Mhari Hunter’s tweet and tell me if I am over reacting when I now think I will cancel my SNP membership.

    • Les Wilson says:

      Yeah I. W
      That was not helpful either, what is going wrong? A party who slaggs off their own followers, and seem to ignore the worst from our opposition. Hardly believable.

  16. Tom says:

    Whatever the rhetoric about Indy from Sturgeon and the SNP, I think we’re being sold a pup.

    Engaging with Unionist parties to strengthen devolution, and creating a Citizen Assembly to guide policy, don’t sound to me like steps towards an Indy Scotland. More like barriers in the way of a Section 30 request, just as Brexit has been.

    You can hear the reasoning now: “we need to see how these discussions with the other parties progress, and what comes out of the Citizen Assembly, before we decide on our next step”.

    Assuming the other parties bite the bullet (why would they not?) and the Citizen Assembly proceeds, this SNP administration will not front a campaign for an IndyRef before the next Holyrood election. They don’t have the stomach for it, and the on-going discussions with other parties and of the Citizen Assembly will be their excuse not to.

    As will the on-line abuse by so-called cybernats. Angus Robertson and Alyn Smith are no political innocents, and will have been aware where the Sunday Herald story was heading when engaging with Neil Mackay. Especially on a weekend with the biggest-ever Indy march scheduled for Glasgow (they hate this kind of grass-roots initiative, completely outwith their control).

    “Our country is too divided, just look at the behaviour of people on our own side. We have to wait until everyone is being nice to one another, and agreeing with one another, and only then can we contemplate another referendum”. Or something like that.

    Further evidence, if any was needed, of their contempt for the grafters on their own side.

    This SNP administration will not win independence for Scotland, and possibly no longer wants to. But ordinary Yessers can, but not by waiting for Sturgeon and the SNP to believe enough in their own country. Yessers need to do it by themselves.

    And yes, let’s all be nice to one another on the way.

    • Therapymum says:

      I understand why you are suspicious. However, Citizens Assemblies are key policy developers and promoters in other independent countries, Ireland for example, so I think it may be a genuinely good thing. Can’t say I disagree with much else at the moment.

      • Tom says:


        I agree. But would our Citizens Assembly be used for a productive purpose, or as an IndyRef delaying tactic? I’m afraid I wouldn’t trust our present SNP administration to be anything other than cynical about it.

  17. Colleen Stevens says:

    I think the idea of Citizens’ Assemblies is a good one, it could tackle problems before they get out of hand. If they can reduce bigotry, racism, transphobia, homophobia and sectarianism they can only be a good thing.

  18. Iona says:

    Spot on, Paul, as ever!

  19. crabbitgits says:

    I can see the day coming when we are all going to have to take up the cause on our own if we want an independent Scotland. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the established Independence Party seems to be reluctant to follow it’s raison d’être. Maybe AUOB will the only route we will have and not until we get upwards of a regular 250000/500000 per march will the Establishment start supporting us and really begin to give us what all of us want.

  20. crabbitgits says:

    Stick a “be” in after “AUOB will” please thank you 😜

  21. Loved it 💛⭐️

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