Daily Mail: on how Charles Kennedy was “hounded” by the SNP in run-up to the election

You’ll not often find me linking to the Daily Mail. It’s even less likely that you’ll find me praising anything on its pages. However, I have to make an exception for one article today.

Guy Adams outlines in some detail the sort of abuse Charles Kennedy and his team were subjected to from supporters of the SNP, both online and in the street.

He quotes Charles’ campaign manager, Conn O’Neill at length. He described returning back to Charles’ cottage the morning after the election:

It was a Friday morning, when the rubbish gets taken out in and around Fort William,’ recalls Kennedy’s campaign manager, Conn O’Neill.

‘When Charles got back to the cottage, he discovered his bins upturned and left at the end of his driveway. It seemed as if someone had gone through them and spread the contents everywhere.

‘There was litter all over the place. Most of it ended up strewn over the field across the road.

He also quotes Candy Piercy, but she didn’t actually talk to them. It may be that he took that quote from our article on the day the SNP candidate took a posse to Charles’ office in Fort Williams and shouted at the staff because he didn’t like something from Charles’ Facebook.

The online abuse Charles received was really unpleasant:

To appreciate the general tone of such nastiness, you need only glance at Twitter, where, on the morning of election day, Kennedy remarked: ‘Campaign teams across the constituency are fighting hard to win, polls are open until 10pm. Spare me a thought.’

A few seconds later, an SNP supporter called Paul Smythe responded to this innocuous comment as follows: ‘I will give you a thought tomorrow when you are where you belong, retired and not a drunken embarrassment any more.’

It was just one of hundreds of similar abusive messages in which SNP supporters had sought to exploit Kennedy’s drink problem.

Days earlier, to take another example at random, another user of the site, called Donald P. Maclean, whose Twitter profile carried an SNP logo, had dubbed him a ‘drunken alcoholic a**ehole’, while a man called Mark Rooney called him an ‘alkie c**t’.

Charles’ successor as MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber Ian Blackford has spent the last week claiming that he and Charles were friends, but he certainly didn’t act like it and his remarks in his maiden speech made before Charles died were perfunctory in the extreme.

What’s interesting is that some of the perpetrators abused Charles using their own names and held office in the SNP or worked for MSPs.

Take Brian Smith, who describes himself as ‘convenor’ of the party’s Skye and Lochalsh branch, and whose Twitter feed is followed by four SNP MPs, including Mr Blackford.

In January alone, Smith used the social networking site to contact Kennedy more than 50 times, calling him a ‘Quisling’ — a term of abuse meaning ‘traitor’ — and filing a vile message attacking his alcoholism.

Charles tried to rise above it, but it must have hurt

‘I am disgusted at you not doing your job,’ it read. ‘Do you have a “problem” that stops you going to Westminster?’ Between then and polling day, Smith — who, remember, is supposedly an SNP convenor — used Twitter to directly attack Mr Kennedy more than a hundred times.

If anyone in our party behaved like that, I’d hope that they would at the very least be told off the first time and thrown out if they kept on behaving like that.

This, sadly, is par for the course on what politics is like up here now. It’s the worst atmosphere I’ve ever found in my life and I spent the 90s fighting Labour in Chesterfield.

Politics shouldn’t be like this, yet when nationalism of any description gets a stranglehold, it often trails division and intimidation in its wake. Look at what happened to Naomi Long and Anna Lo in Northern Ireland, and that was just about flying a few flags. Most people in the SNP aren’t like that, but they need to deal effectively with the people in their movement who are. In the wake of another tale of nationalist intimidation, I wrote in April:

This all makes me very worried about a scenario where we end up with an EU referendum, the UK votes to leave (unlikely though I think that is) and Scotland then has another independence referendum. A choice between an illiberal, intolerant society where conformity is demanded and economic armageddon doesn’t appeal.

Update: At the first commenter’s suggestion, I’ve found a few of the tweets mentioned in the article and embedded them below:

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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86 Comments

  • A Nonny Mouse 6th Jun '15 - 2:33pm

    Just to warn you, the Cybernat spin on this seems to be “typical of the Mail, trying to blame Charles’ death on SNP, loads of made up stories, nothing to see here, move along please….” etc etc. The point about not wanting to make yourself known is true, hence me using this name again.

    Some of the vile comments are still onTwitter and on CK’s Facebook page – might be worth posting these here (at least the ones which can be) as screen shots to support the facts.

  • It is appalling that this tide of emotion exists. Any rational person knows that Scotland would not be better off as an independent country, that is not to say that reform of constitutional relationships isn’t necessary.

  • Samuel Griffiths 6th Jun '15 - 2:41pm

    The SNP often remind me of UKIP in these sorts of situations – They are literally struggling to manage their own success. I think a big amount of their support base comes from angry, disenfranchised voters who feel they have no power to control their future. The fact this rage has been directed at the wrong people doesn’t in anyway prevent it from being real. Perhaps instead of criticizing this anguish, we should be tackling the issue of why they are angry, and why Scotland feels only the SNP can represent it’s interests?

  • Mark Francis 6th Jun '15 - 3:12pm

    It always seems to take a death for the truth of things to finally be revealed.
    This abuse is an indication of the dark current of hostility and hate than is the ‘unofficial driver of subversive campaigns’ which the sparkly wit and smiles of SNP leadership aims to cover up. Their portrail of of hate dressed as passion is beginning to wear thin (see Orkney and Shetland election reports). The ease of online abuse is wonderfully revealing as the SNP have left their digital DNA all over this. Just wait for future revelations as the data is analysed in more detail.
    I wonder if the SNP is become the new nasty party of this parliament – That might give the Conservatives a smile at least.

  • I don’t think angry disenfranchised voters is anywhere near a good enough excuse for some of the bile that is being posted at the moment. The SNP seem to suffer from this disease more than most but I don’t think any party can claim a support base completely clean of it. Maybe it’s time all the parties made a joint effort to deal with it rather than dismissing it as inconsequential – this problem isn’t going away its only escalating.

  • The old adage what goes around comes around is very true, and it will happen to the SNP.

  • Samuel
    The insecurities caused by spending cuts and a globalised economy are the probable causes of this anger.

  • You really are the most odious example of the LibDem fascist brigade.

    Not a single example of hatred towards Ck from anybody in the SNP but the usual smears from the party who STABBED CHARLES KENNEDY IN THE BACK while COVERING UP DECADES OF CHILD ABUSE!

    Caron Lindsay. Scum. Absolute total and utter scum.

  • Tony Dawson 6th Jun '15 - 4:18pm

    It may be a sign of the times but hundreds of thousands of ordinary non-‘important’ people every week get this sort of treatment on the internet. It is basically down to them whether they ignore it or report it and one would hope that our police force largely have better things to do than have to spend time on anything than the most extreme of these outpourings.

    It is, however, very sad that anyone seriously-connected with a political party’s higher echelons would attack someone directly over their alcoholism. One would hope that any Party would address this as an illness these days rather than as a chosen drunken pastime. But can we say that our own Party really did this when Charles’ illness was initially manifesting itself?

  • Eddie Sammon 6th Jun '15 - 4:24pm

    I saw Charles confront some SNP “trolls” about 5-6 weeks ago when people were accusing him of all kinds of Facebook. I don’t want to post all the instances here, but Charles made a very good account of himself and the trolls should be ashamed. I saw another yes voter actually stand up for him and said he was sick and to leave him alone when people were making fun of his alcohol problems.

    David Tolmie was the yes voter sticking up for him, but it is so bad that people have to put up with this stuff and it isn’t just about alcoholism but people were sending general abuse and trying to smear him basically because he was standing in election against the SNP.

    It is not good enough for senior SNP figures to simply condemn these actions, there needs to be warnings and dismissals.

  • Eddie Sammon 6th Jun '15 - 4:26pm

    By the way, if the SNP can’t solve this problem of abuse, which I think is very severe, then the police should get involved.

    Of course, it is not just the SNP, but too much of it is, from what I can see and others will testify.

  • Now let me think about this one, candidate is addressed in this manner about his race, hate crime, candidate is addressed in this manner about his sexuality, hate crime, candidate is addressed in this manner because he is blind, hate crime. But okay, I don’t know, perhaps the SNP have a policy of scrapping hate crimes, so by acting in this way they are just being true to themselves or something.

    Dear Scotland, I am in the south of England, and I know lots of people who are aware that you are not all like that.

  • Speaking to a colleague I happened to mention I had voted no during the referendum. A look of relief came across her face as she whispered “so did I” followed quickly with “but don’t tell anyone”. We talked about our experiences and the type of intimidation we both felt when speaking about the referendum and also the general election, both of us just ordinary members of the public and not involved in campaigning.

    My experience has been that in Scotland you aren’t able to be critical about the SNP, you aren’t allowed to question their policies as it is somehow seen as a betrayal. I have had debates with Conservatives, Labour and Green supporters some may have got heated but none that crossed over to the type of bullying behaviour I have experienced from a few SNP members. I have actually seen pure hatred being directed at other party members from members of the SNP and the only reason they can give for their feelings is that the person the anger is directed at was part of the no campaign. Personally I feel that while the SNP are in power in Scotland this type of behaviour will continue which is sad given that the Scotland I see is a modern, forward thinking democratic and liberal society.

  • I don’t think this sort of abuse will stop until we all stand up and say enough is enough. I understand that it can be argued that it is a form of political protest but I don’t think it is particularly illiberal to ask people to refrain from vicious personal attacks.

  • @peter
    If you look at the article, there are examples of hatred towards CK from SNP members. Other than that, you could try talking to people as if they’re humans, try being reasonable and polite, that sort of thing, or people that read what you’ve written will assume the attributes you’re ascribing to others are actually your own. Folks usually get involved in politics because they want to improve things, even if you don’t agree with their viewpoint. If you’d like to explain your point then we can debate the substance of it, but sadly you’ve not provided anything of the sort, just a list of spurious allegations, claims and insults.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Jun '15 - 4:54pm

    Craig

    My experience has been that in Scotland you aren’t able to be critical about the SNP, you aren’t allowed to question their policies as it is somehow seen as a betrayal.

    I’ve no direct experience of politics in Scotland, but I was very alarmed when I heard things like this being said about the referendum campaign. It does seem to me that the SNP’s success comes from creating a nasty bullying atmosphere where all the problems that exist stem from being in the UK, therefore the solution to all of them is to leave the UK, and anyone who disagrees is a traitor.

    I couldn’t myself get worked up about the Yes-No argument here, as our party, in my belief quite wrongly, urged us to do. I could see arguments on both sides, but also to me it’s obvious that the nation state is no longer the big dominating force in life it once was, and that in a globalised economy what a national government can do is fairly limited, and so independence wouldn’t actually make as big a difference as people suppose. I actually can’t see what people get so worked up about, there’s more of a gradation than a sharp difference, so you can have devo-max on the one hand and something like Benelux on the other, and is it really very much different?

    However, if whipping up the argument is used to create a one party state, and you are a “traitor” if you don’t give allegiance to that party, and fear and abuse is used to enforce that, well that’s a very bad thing, and it seems it’s happening in Scotland. People criticised me when I linked the SNP to UKIP, telling me that the SNP was nice and lefty and progressive, so not at all like UKIP, but the more I hear, the more I think I was right. UKIP too try to use this “pull out of the union solves all our problems” line, and they often attempt a nasty aggressive attack on anyone who supports other parties, with accusations of treachery and the like if, on balance, you think the EU is a good thing. UKIP hasn’t managed to pull it off to become the dominant party in England, but it would be horrendous if they did as the SNP has in Scotland.

  • @Michele
    I’ll partially defend peter’s right to say what he likes, I just think it reflects poorly upon him and the SNP. To me, peter ironically made the best justification for the original article, backing up Caron’s claim regarding CK being hounded by the SNP and giving us a first-hand illustration of the sort of behaviour described above. Some UKIP commentators on this site started in a similar fashion and have gone on to describe their frustrations with the Lib Dems. I believe this has value and instead of dismissing it we should listen, debate and learn. You can’t do that if it’s censored, it’s not illiberal to ask people to refrain from personal attacks, but I don’t think it helps anyone to delete evidence and justifications for LDV articles – perhaps a compromise would be to censor the names only? That way we could see the substance, or lack thereof, of a post whilst limiting its most unpleasant aspects.

    Free speech always has a price.

  • So sad to see LDV are using a human tragedy as an excuse to post this smear story.

    Is this really what Charles would have wanted you to do?

  • christopher haigh 6th Jun '15 - 5:58pm

    Surely we should not be descending to the level of discussing articles that appear in the Daily Mail. The only interest of the publication is to destroy establishment opposition parties

  • Absolutely right in what you say Eddie

  • A Nonny Mouse 6th Jun '15 - 6:16pm

    @Peter – well done. You’ve very eloquently just proved Caron’s point.

    @al and @christopher haigh – And you’ve just proved my earlier point. This is not a smear campaign against the SNP – the slant the Mail has given is probably not one I’d agree with, but the incidents noted are all true (not often you write that about the Mail, I grant you.)

  • Chris Primrose 6th Jun '15 - 6:18pm

    You are using the Daily Mail for your sources?
    Seriously? If the SNP were truly the Nazis being described, the Daily Mail (as it did in the 1930s (see Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”)) should be supporting them.
    The demonisation of a perfectly legitimate, democratic party, for which 50% of the Scottish electorate voted, does you no favours. I’m sorry LD Voice. I had hoped for better from you.
    If your English (and Scottish) readership believe the Daily Mail, all I can say is, “Bye-bye England”.
    (From someone who did over twenty years in the British Army because Scotland didn’t have one).
    Good luck to you. I hope you prosper.

  • Ignoring bullies doesn’t work and while I think the Mail is using this to score points they do have a point. We campaign to stop children doing this to each other because it can do real harm – why are we okay with adults doing it?

  • Chris Primrose 6th Jun '15 - 6:35pm

    @Anonny Mouse

    How do you know they are true? Have you read the Daily Mail article? It’s entirely supposition. It’s like the Labour MSP who claimed his office had been vandalised by “cybernats” until GoogleEarth showed that the vandalism had occurred months before (the pictures were still up) and that the culprits were school kids bating each other. He had not called the police. If an offence has occurred, call the police. Otherwise, prove that an offence has occurred.

  • Chris Primrose 6th Jun '15 - 6:38pm

    @Peter

    Are you a Tory? Just wondering …

  • Andrew Procter 6th Jun '15 - 6:42pm

    Nicola Sturgeon has quite rightly repeatedly condemned internet abuse. A good example of her view was when she stood up in the Scottish parliament, condemned the homophobic abuse that had been sent to Ruth Davidson by a SNP member and announced that he had been suspended.

    What is largely missing from the discussion above is any recognition that there is vast amounts of internet abuse directed at SNP politicians. If anyone doubts this have a quick look at the Twitter account @BritNatAbuseBot which re-tweeted examples of abuse directed at politicians on the Yes side during the referendum campaign, it makes for highly unpleasant reading. All internet abuse is unacceptable and all parties should be working to combat it but simply presenting the issue as “SNP bad/ Other parties good” does not help solve the problem.

    Equally we should not equate the actions of the zealots on Twitter with the situation in Scotland as a whole. The country is not riven with division, fear and conflict. Most people are perfectly capable of putting forward their point of view in a sensible manner and respecting the views of those who disagree without getting angry or aggressive. We are lucky to live in a democracy where we can have political debates and then make the decision at the ballot box.

  • Mike Falchikov 6th Jun '15 - 6:52pm

    Michele – quite right. We shouldn’t have to put up with this stuff. Isn’t it a bit like a certain kind of motorist who is
    wedded to his(usually his) car and repeatedly drives dangerously/drunkenly? Such behaviour patterns can only be
    changed by a prolonged period of separation from the car ( i.e. long driving bans) and taking up healthier options. In the same way these compulsive bullies have to be separated from their computers (b y legal action if possible) and encouraged to get out and about and meet real people. They act this way, presumably, because their emotional and social development has been stunted and they don’t know how to deal with real people in real situations

  • So following a leak of a smear story by a senior LD MP to the Daily Telegraph we now have links to a smear story in the Daily Mail. Welcome to the world of the new LD party.

  • @Matthew

    In fairness to the SNP I have only experienced this kind of thing from members and supporters and not from the party themselves, however from what I have heard they don’t go out of their way to put a stop to this kind of behaviour and in some instances are quite happy to add fuel to the fire.

    I will say that I sense a slight change in the air since the general election. I think lots of people who voted SNP voted on the line of “a stronger voice for Scotland” without questioning that before the election Scotland had 59 MPs and after the election we had 59 MPs the only change is now 56 of them are SNP – some people I have spoken to feel a little duped by the SNPs wording on this.

    There in lies the talent of the SNP who are amazing at spin. Watch them talk about why they feel they need to vote on England only issues and they always mention the NHS and the cut in the budget to the NHS. Without using the words they manage to give the impression that Westminster control the Scottish NHS budget and therefore Westminster are to blame for problems in the NHS. The truth is the Scottish Government can spend the block grant however they choose – lots of people I speak to don’t seem to realise this.

  • @Michele
    I am not.

  • Chris Primrose 6th Jun '15 - 7:04pm

    @Craig
    For every £10 spent on the English NHS (there has NEVER been a UK NHS due to the difference in English and Scots Law) about £1 is given to the Scots Government to spend on what it pleases. If the English NHS spending is decreased, so is the spending in Scotland.
    This was raised many times during the referendum but not reported widely in the Mainstream Media.
    Now, I have never commented on LDV before tonight, but even I am finding my input boring.
    Please check out the facts for yourself, rather than regurgitate what someone else has gleaned from a tabloid source, or from their own bottomless well of anti-SNP rhetoric.
    I wish you all the best on your quest.

  • @Craig

    Though you will agree that cuts to the NHS in England and to other budgets which are for devolved issues reduces the block grant?

  • I feel very sorry for Charlse Kennedy, but this stuff is from bog standard internet trolls, not the SNP. No party can control the outbursts of a few disgruntled supporters. The Mail is full of similar bile in its comment section on a daily basis.
    The truth is Scotland is going to leave the UK sooner or Later. Just like Southern Ireland did and just like the Baltic states left Russia. The obsession with the SNP is a symptom a failed relationship with rejected English political establishment and a Scottish Electorate that no longer wants them. Instead of trying to depict the SNP as monsters, why not ask why we lost support., because the to me the real problem isn’t the SNP it’s the fact that Labour. The Conservatives and Lib Dems have ben comprehensively rejected by the Scottish.

  • @Hireton @Chris Primrose Yes I agree with both of you on how the Barnett Formula works however that wasn’t the point I was trying to make.

    The point I was trying to make is that the SNP are excellent at spin. Without saying the words they have managed to put into peoples minds that Westminster have DIRECT control over the spend of the NHS budget in Scotland which I am sure you can both agree they don’t. Yes the grant that is applied to Scotland is effected by budget cuts at Westminster but they do not tell the Scottish Government how much of that budget they have to spend on the NHS. Lots of people I speak to have this wrong in their minds and they think that Westminster actually decide for the Scottish Government how much departmental spend they have.

    I would actually be interested to hear from both of you if you find people understand how the block grant is distributed once it hits the Scottish Government or like the people I speak to believe (because of the way the SNP make the argument for votes on English laws) that Westminster sets an NHS budget for Scotland.

  • One of the things that I’ve seen written about Charles Kennedy is that he could disagree with someone, and still respect that their views were held in good faith. This won him the respect and affection of many from across politics and beyond, as we’ve seen over the past few days.

    He rose above this sort of abuse, and we should do likewise. Those that dish it out reveal more about themselves with this sort of poison, and we would only be lowering ourselves were we to join in the fighting.

    On Scottish policy, we need now to move away from being a fully absorbed part of the Better Together campaign and start to articulate an independent position on what the future should look like. We also need to look to examples from history and think about what we might be able to learn from them that we can apply to our own rebuilding now. That means looking at how Ashdown led the party out of the merger, how Grimond rallied the remains of the old Liberal Party and so on. But we would also do well to look at how the SNP got out of its own disastrous flirtation with Westminster government and subsequent annihilation in 1979.

  • @ChrisB

    I will defend peter’s right to say whatever he wants right up until he makes a personal attack on someone. Once that personal attack has been launched someone else’s rights have to be considered too. I’m not asking him to abandon his beliefs and I’m not telling him he can’t express those beliefs, I’m just asking him to respect other people’s.

  • George Potter 6th Jun '15 - 8:51pm

    Good to see the cybernats out in force on this post showing that their alleged behaviour is no myth.

    Unable to take criticism. Unable to tolerate dissent. Unable to comprehend genuine, honest disagreement – if you disagree you’re either a traitor or an imbecile. Unable to do anything than resort to personal attacks, smears and harassment.

    One of these days some SNP activists will be done for intimidation and it will be well overdue.

  • George Potter 6th Jun '15 - 8:54pm

    @Glenn

    No, it’s not the work of a few bog standard internet trolls. This is something that goes through all levels of the SNP and which extends into real life as well.

    And it is pretty unique to the SNP – no other party has this problem or this level of problem with aggressive, personalised harassment and attacks by their supporters. And no other party lets such people become its MPs and MSPs without a qualm either.

  • George Potter 6th Jun '15 - 8:56pm

    @Craig

    Fun fact: there haven’t actually been any cuts to the English NHS. Spending has actually increased – which meant that Scotland also got a spending increase. Yet the SNP government chose not to spend that funding increase on the Scottish NHS. Shows you their priorities.

  • George Potter 6th Jun '15 - 9:01pm

    Not voting SNP? You must be a Quisling (a Nazi collaborator), traitor to Scotland then – or a simpleton misled by the big, bad unionist lies. That’s the only explanation for not being a full throated supporter of the SNP.

    And that of course is the same intolerant myopia which defines every authoritarian regime in history.

  • I totally agree that censorship is illiberal and wrong, but I don’t believe that deriding an individual human being at the point of their personal vulnerabilities is expressing an opinion, nor is it artistic expression, it just happens to be my personal opinion that it is spite. I objected to the same thing over a politician I could not personally stand a few years ago.

  • George Potter 6th Jun '15 - 9:07pm

    @Chris Primrose

    You do know that the founder of the SNP and longstanding leader, someone Salmond refers to as an “inspiring figure” was a Nazi sympathiser, right?

    I don’t like the Daily Mail but that doesn’t mean that everything it writes is inaccurate. And this article appears to be pretty accurate.

    So if you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones.

  • @Glenn

    Nearly 50% of the Scottish electorate rejected the SNP. Unfortunately due to our appalling electoral system we are pretty much silenced in Westminster for the next 5 years. Scotland may leave the UK but it is worth remembering that there is a very large proportion of Scotland that does not wish for this to happen.

  • @George Potter

    Your description of Scotland, Scottish politics and the SNP is quite simply wrong. If the LDs really want to improve on their terrible 2011 and 2015 results in 2016 they really need to get beyond the SNP bad mantra.

  • George Potter,
    As for it not applying within other parties, well attacks on Alex Salmond and Nicola sturgeon are far from uncommon Nor were attacks by Ed Millerand or Nick Clegg. Just look in the comments section of the Spectator, Mail. Telegraph or at the work of some of the Journalists or for that matter on any right wing blogs.
    Michele.
    All independence movements build. This how they start. Once they gain momentum they are pretty much unstoppable and despite the hysteria., In this case compared with Ireland and the Baltic states or a lot of former colonies it’s a pretty peaceful independence movement. I’m sorry. but as a Liberal I tend to support independence movements., especially basically peaceful and democratic ones. I think English parties and Newspapers are showing a very unpleasant streak that comes across as neo colonial.

  • Chris Primrose 6th Jun '15 - 11:39pm

    @michele
    You are absolutely right.
    How many supported Scottish Greens (pro-independence); Scottish Socialist Party (pro-independence ); Solidarity (pro-independence ) and the rest?

    Are you sure that you’re in as big a group as you claim?

  • Steve Comer 6th Jun '15 - 11:40pm

    I agree with Glenn this neo-colonial fear mongering about the SNP will be as counter-productive as Putin’s labelling of those wanting a free Ukraine as “fascists.”
    As a Liberal and a believer in a Federal UK in a Europe I’m relaxed about changes to existing boudaries of nation states. Let us remember the UK boundary only dates from 1923 ( not the ‘thousand years’ Tories bray about) , and there has always been fluidity of boundaries, as the presence of Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in the EU shows. It may well be that some states made up of more than one nation change, but if Scotland broke away from the Uk, or Catalonia from Spain why would it matter if we’re all still partners in a united Europe?

  • Chris Primrose 7th Jun '15 - 12:34am

    @george potter
    I take it that you are also aware that Lloyd George was considered a most dubious person by the Coalition government during WW2.

  • In a world where adversarial politics distracts all of us from our inner wisdom, our true Spirit and sense of love for one another, we can not bring Charles back.
    Wishing now that he is free from all this pain and low level confrontation after 32 years of standing up for the Highlands, in Westminster.
    Whether the SNP eventually break free from Westminster, is not just up to them.
    England is part of this Union that King James set up all those years ago.
    Local issues like the A82 need great attention.
    Who am I to not forgive the mean Election unkindness, when my Lord was nailed to the cross for my sins?
    There is no resurrection miracle as far as any of us can perform.
    Learning that love is greater than hatred is maybe part of the healing process.
    Bring Christ’s Light to this sad place and get on with fixing the real local problems.

    I am broken hearted that the fight for Scotland’s freedom has caused such malice between dearly treasured Britons who live in The Sacred Isle.

  • George Potter 7th Jun '15 - 12:57am

    @Glenn

    Independence movements become unstoppable do they? Do tell that to the Bloc Quebecois sometime.

    @Chris Primrose

    I am actually. Which is why using events from over a lifetime ago to condemn something today out of hand is rather foolhardy and myopic.

    There are plenty of good reasons to hate the Daily Mail which are nothing to do with the fact that it supported the BUF.

  • Chris Primrose 7th Jun '15 - 1:12am

    @george potter
    therefore what the hell is your argument?!?

  • George Potter.
    I said “pretty much unstoppable” not always unstoppable. But I can say that I think Scottish independence looks inevitable to me and nothing we say in England will have any effect at all in Scotland. I think all this hostility is a waste of time and energy, just as it was in Ireland. And really instead of blaming the SNP why not ask why labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives have been rejected by the Scots and how the SNP won in a system that was designed to stop them winning. Alex Salmond didn’t become the leader of the Scottish parliament because of the electoral system it was in spite of it. All this stuff about the SNP just comes across as desperate and a little small. We, labour and the Conservatives have one seat each in Scotland and they ain’t coming back anytime soon .

  • @ Chris Primrose

    Yes I’m quite sure that 48% of Scots voted Lib-Dem, Labour, Conservative, and even UKIP. The Greens took 1.3% and other parties such as the Scottish Socialist Party accounted for a combined total of 0.2%.

    @Glenn

    And how much of this unstoppable momentum was built by a truly woeful campaign from Scottish Labour and a completely irrelevant one from the Scottish Lib-Dems? Coupled with the fact that the SNP campaigned on a more powers (a question we weren’t asked in 2014) anti-austerity platforms rather than an independence one I have to question the source of this momentum.

    As to the cyber trolls and cyber bullies, I would just like all of the political parties to stand up together and condemn this behaviour for what it is. Maybe I’m being niave but I don’t think it is too much to ask that the personal attacks be left at the door when debating ideas. I believe in protecting someone’s right to think or say whatever they want. I believe it is a right that we should defend right up until the point that it causes harm to another. Cyber bullying can destroy lives. I don’t think it is too much to ask for recognition of that fact.

  • George
    Years ago the Bloc Quebecois had a meeting with the SNP.They concluded that the SNP weren’t serious about obtaining independence.

  • Steve Comer 6th Jun ’15 – 11:40pm
    “I agree with Glenn this neo-colonial fear mongering about the SNP …”
    “Let us remember the UK boundary only dates from 1923 ( not the ‘thousand years’ Tories bray about)”

    Wise words from Steve Comer providing some much needed perspective to a discussion which has become dangerously. Liberal Democrats on both sides of the border need to come to terms with what has happened in Scotland not just in the last 12 months but since 1970.

    1970 was the year when the SNP only got 11.4% of the vote.
    SNP candidates stood in only 65 of the then 71 seats in Scotland, losing their deposit in 42 seats.
    They lost their one existing MP (Winnie Ewing in Hamilton) and gained one new MP (Donald Stewart in The Western Isles).
    Since then things have changed – even if some Liberal Democrats have either not noticed or refuse to face the facts.
    You need to be in your mid-sixties to be ableto remember a time when the SNP were a tiny fringe party with just one MP.
    Now in Scotland it is the Liberal Democrats that is one of the fringe parties each with just one MP.

    Since 1992 the SNP in six Westminster general elections has never scored less than 17.7% of the vote.
    This year they got 50% of the vote.

    To try and pretend that 50% of the voters in Scotland today are raving mad vandals marauding around the political landscape is to divorce oneself from reality.

    BTW – The irony of an article in LDV referencing The Mail complaining about dustbins being turned over one night will not be lost on Mr Ken Livingstone the former Mayor of London and Labour MP who writes in his autobiography about how he regularly had employees of The Mail and other newspapers going through his dustbins for decades.

  • Chris Primrose 6:18pm
    Were you in the Royal Scots?

  • Heh, you know the likes of Chris Primrose are rattled when they only can come out with genuine ad hominems. Not the surly response “you’re saying horrid words about me” but real actual playing the ball not the man rhetorical failure.

    Everything the DM says is verifiable and already in the public domain. For instance, Brian Smith convener of Skye and Lochalsh SNP calling Kennedy a qusiling:

    https://twitter.com/Lobsterferret/status/557179051149099008

    https://twitter.com/search?q=charles%20from%3ALobsterferret%2F&src=typd

    What was that about bins?

    https://twitter.com/Lobsterferret/status/595859508821372929

    And, Chris, if you’re going to go on about what the DM did in the 1930s, why not the likes of Arthur Donaldson who escaped the noose mainly through a mixture of incompetence and irrelevance.

    ~alec

  • A Nonnoy Mouse 7th Jun '15 - 9:58am

    We know it’s true because…..

    (1) the story was originally on LDV with comments from Candy Piercy, someone known for a long time to many people involved in the Lib Dems and trusted;

    (2) the comments match publicly what has been said privately, and

    (3) if you look at the posts on Twitter they’re still there.

  • >> BTW – The irony of an article in LDV referencing The Mail complaining about dustbins being turned over one night will not be lost on Mr Ken Livingstone the former Mayor of London and Labour MP who writes in his autobiography about how he regularly had employees of The Mail and other newspapers going through his dustbins for decades.

    First off, you don’t know what irony means (and nor did the article author tbh). Secondly, you do know that Kennedy’s dustbins weren’t searched for documents and that those employees didn’t scatter them everywhere.

    Thirdly, the irony (sic) of presenting Livingston as a victim is that he associated with and backed electoral fraudster and bent mayor, Luftar Rahman.

    ~alec

  • Noorderling 7th Jun '15 - 11:27am

    During the campaign a journalist that dared to asked critical questions of the SNP was mercilessly cyberbullied. Sturgeon had to condemn the behavior of her supporters. A Labour candidate was followed everywhere she went, even to her house. A SNP representative explained that this behavior was fully justified.

  • To try and pretend that 50% of the voters in Scotland today are raving mad vandals marauding around the political landscape is to divorce oneself from reality.

    Alec,
    You may have a different understanding of the word ‘irony’.
    What is your point?

    bTW — I think you meant to write “Lutfer” unless you know someone else Ken Livingstone supported. 🙂

  • sally haynes-preece 7th Jun '15 - 11:44am

    I am afraid I take any story from the Daily Mail with a huge pinch of salt…however if posters here have inside information and know the story is based on fact then I accept that. However reprehensible such behaviour is, I think we have to be cautious about assuming it played any part in his death. Charles Kennedy had just lost his seat and was facing up to a new unplanned an unexpected future. This can be hard to deal with and I don’t find it too hard to believe that he may have started drinking more as a result. But it is entirely possible that he had his drinking under control and this tragedy would have happened now, regardless of anything else. The behaviour of these people did not turn him into an alcoholic. Loosing his seat did not turn him into an alcoholic. His disease was a fact long before any of this happened and ultimately that was the cause of his death.

  • What’s leaving a bad taste in the mouth is the immediate provisos “I don’t normally support the Mail but…”. The reported facts in a newspaper article stand on their own; and in the context of the topic, it strikes as putting personal appearance before Kennedy’s monstering.

    It’s especially problematic from SNP supporters desperately trying to shut-down discussion. Ian Blackford spoke to the Mail… is he untrustworthy now?

    ==> However reprehensible such behaviour is, I think we have to be cautious about assuming it played any part in his death.

    What about basic manners? By the same token, you could excuse staff mistreating terminal cancer patients who were going to die anyway.

    ~alec

  • Hey Michele,

    So why not just censor the names? LDV could also install a spoilers plugin and use that to censor unpleasant posts, so people could read it if they wanted but it doesn’t derail discussion.

    I only discovered what a cybernat was yesterday, I thought it was a mistyped Doctor Who reference. 🙂 Reading this thread suggests I’m not the only one late to a lot of this game, but I’m starting to get the picture. As Orwell said “Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception”.

  • I am not thinking in terms of this behaviour as a cause of death, and I know alchoholism well enough to know there are long term risks where there is a history, and most people don’t know (nor is it actually their business to know) exactly what Charlie was doing or thinking in the last few weeeks of his life. People who knew him well have shared some of what they know about his hopes for the country’s future, that is fair enough.

    It is just seems like a very big shame to me, that so many people in such tense times for the UK, are behaving as if irrational rage is going to get them anything they want or need. I just do not agree with the idea that it will. I do not believe that spite is an opinion thing.

  • It’s neither Luftar nor Lutfer, but Lutfur – from Arabic luṭf(u) “kindness” + (a)l- “the,” assimilated to the following r in raḥmān “merciful,” ar-raḥmān “The Merciful” being an epithet of God.

  • Alec 7th Jun ’15 – 12:05pm
    “….What’s leaving a bad taste in the mouth is the immediate provisos “I don’t normally support the Mail but…”. The reported facts in a newspaper article stand on their own; ”

    Except they don’t when it comes to the dustbins. The facts are that a couple of dustbins were turned over. The Mail decided that the only explanation was SNP activists “hounding” Charles Kennedy.

    Dustbins get turned over where I live but as far as I know the foxes round here are not signed up members of the SNP.

    It is a long way from dustbins to “…the sort of genocidaire who conducted appalling mutilation of women in 1971 East Pakistan”.

    It is more than 40 since East Pakistan ceased to exist – are you not stretching your point just a little too far?

    David-1 7th Jun ’15 – 1:27pm
    It’s neither Luftar nor Lutfer, but Lutfur …

    Yes, quite right David-1.
    Another example of ‘irony’. I failed to spell it correctly when correcting Alec’s misspelling. 🙂

  • @ChrisB

    I think giving these people more anonymity is only going to make them worse. Within reason I also can’t agree with the idea of censoring or even filtering unpleasant posts – if we start doing that how long before we start censoring the ones we don’t like?

    I think we need a more pie in the sky approach. A declaration by all the political parties that abusive online personal attacks will not be tolerated and that any party member who found to have carried out such an attack will be suspended from their own party. I really don’t think the majority of these people are members of a party but hopefully if the parties and the media take a combined stand against it it will spiderweb outwards and we can begin to restore a bit of respect. As I said a bit pie in the sky but the current approach of ignoring them or leaving individuals to deal with them by themselves is not working – how long before we see someone genuinely hurt? Cyber bullying can destroy a kids life, why are we assuming that it wouldn’t harm an adults? Bullies crave the approval of the mob, and the more you ignore them the harder they will try to get a reaction – if you confront them with disapproval they cant handle it and they tend to whither.

  • Ah! Apologies for that. It’s a vestige from long ago. That said, it *still* does not explain why other comments have got through. The modded comments were one a specific subject.

    As you will see, I now am using what looks like – and is real honest guv – a real addy. Are you able to retrieve one of the missing comments from the trash?

    ~alec

  • John Tilley, so what? Even if the DM’s conduct damns it forevermore, by your reasoning so should the conduct described in the article with the SNP.

    ==> Another example of ‘irony’. I failed to spell it correctly when correcting Alec’s misspelling.

    A: it’s not irony. B: not being pedantic, I don’t care about about minor typos but if you must, then you really ought to not make them yourself.

    ~alec

  • John Tilly
    They may not be raving mad but they do seem to emotionally disturbed. Years ago I spoke to people who had lived through a much stronger emotional disturbance that was caused by an economic collapse.It involved Messers not sgian-dubhs. That is why I am concerned

  • The disturbing thing about ‘cybernats’ is not that a proportion of supporters of a political party go in for abuse and bullying, that is true of all parties, but that their behaviour is constantly excused by senior SNP figures who should know better. Almost every single abusive nat account on twitter is followed by one or another of their MPs or MEPs, particularly Mhairi Black, who follows just about all of them.

    More generally, Scotland is now becoming a place where you can’t discuss independence if you’re a unionist with strangers and acquaintances because you don’t know how they’ll react when they find out you’re on the wrong side. I’ve been accused of being English, a traitor, misguided, an idiot, and a liar by people I don’t know, just because they asked how I voted and why and I told them.

    The nationalists have unleashed something quite nasty and their politicians are doing little to stop it.

  • g
    Just explain you are a federalist not a unionist.
    The SLD have got to move away from the unionists label after all they and Liberals as a whole believe in home rule.

  • Manfarang, I’m not a federalist. I don’t believe in home rule. I do believe in devolution of some powers though. But primarily to the English regions, Scotland has little need of more, because those it has in terms of tax are not being used anyway.

  • The Daily Mail, that bastion of truth and upholder of fairness and equality. Remember the attacks on Milliband’s father? The Sun and bacon sandwich? Milliband endured many personal
    attacks from all sides including your own. Stones and glass houses?

  • I was discussing this the day after the election with a friend, we both though that the SNP would have had an optimal result with 30 MPs. They could look like they had momentum there was a further goal (along with their ultimate goal of independence) to keep people focused. It is also likely that they put a lot of effort in to the 30/35 most likely wins to make sure there weren’t any candidates that would be too embarrassing. Taking as many seats as they did means there will be candidates they had never expected to get elected with media interest in them. There will be a reason for the press to take a much closer look at their delivery in office and to supporters the last three seats are not likely to keep the ‘rabble element’ disciplined.

    Caron you say that not all the SNP are like this, and they are not. However the vast majority are far too tolerant of this type of ‘non-nationalist haters’ (or if they are around English haters) behaviour I remember the sheepishness of an SNP politician (private setting) when this behaviour was being displayed around him, and it took someone with no interest in the matter to publicly shame those involved.

    The UKIP comparison is useful on only one level which is the management of growth issue. All sorts of nastiness takes place in hidden environments and the indiscipline of those who are motivated by anger and hate tends to spill out in to public fora.

    There is a broader question of the excuses of the low standards of debate about politics from all parties, the SNP have a particular problem right now and UKIP keep getting caught out (I suspect the reason for the difference in how it manifests itself is the difference in age demographic) but just look at the comments on LDV about how people describe the Tories as “evil” “nasty” there is a discussion elsewhere where TCO and I pointed out this behaviour is counterproductive. I think Labout haven’t realised how their narrative (particularly on the West Coast) hoe “Evil” Tories” and “the Tories are an English Party” are not too hart to extend the narrative by someone who wants to take the argument more extreme.

    You only have to look at Northern Ireland so see how pushing to extremes can benefit those who do so but not the public more generally.

    If there is a lesson to take away it is to stick to the issues and avoid the temptation to attack the motivations of others, take the higher road no matter how tempting the low road is.

    As for those who are busy predicting the future on the basis of the recent results, remember past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Getting in to an “other bashing” campaign will not convert many. Setting out a clear liberal position could actually get some traction, (Devolution & localism rather than centralised devolution, stronger human rights, more intelligent engagement in Europe, etc.

  • nvelope2003 8th Jun '15 - 3:42pm

    Reading the above I just wonder how many have actually attempted to have a rational discussion with a supporter of the SNP online. It is simply not possible. Everything you say will be twisted to mean something different and there is often the most foul abuse. I suspect that the 3 traditional UK political parties now accept there is no point in keeping Scotland in the UK as the main reason for doing so, particularly for Labour, was the opportunity for having a large bloc of MPs at Westminster. The SNP have got what they wanted. Still there is a bit of hope . The seemingly invincible President Erdogan of Turkey has just got his comeuppance – possibly because he went just that little bit too far. A huge presidential palace illegally built on farm land donated by Attaturk, with 1115 rooms, did not help either.

  • Anne,

    You are saying that Milliband was attacked by the LibDemParty/LDV for eating an bacon Sandwich? Or saying the LibDemParty/LDV attacked Milliband’s father?

    Milliband was certainly was attacked for bad ideas, policies and general understanding of many issues on here. Those are the right sort of attacks, bad ideas need to be shown to be so, better they fall apart in discussion than are implemented and have bad consequences.

    If your claim that previous history of a newspaper invalidates any news article I would ask you if you would apply that to the Telegraph, over the years they have published much that I disagree with but does that mean that the expenses expose should be disregarded? Equally the “the NOTW deleted Milli Dowler’s emails” claim made by the Guardian was found to be a false attack on a rival. Does this invalidate all future guardian articles? Stories have to stand on their merits.

  • Anne
    Ed Miliband’s father wrote many attacks on Labour.

  • Eddie Sammon 6th Jun ’15 – 4:24pm …………………..It is not good enough for senior SNP figures to simply condemn these actions, there needs to be warnings and dismissals…………….

    Sadly. ‘Independence parties, ‘like football clubs, have nasty supporters but as for the dustbins.. anyone looking for ‘dirt’ would not spread the contents over the countryside….and, perhaps, we should look at our own behaviour regarding Alistair Carmichael before calling on others to take such measures……

    A recurring theme here appears to be “We don’t normally believe anything the DM says but we believe this”…Hmmmmm

  • expats
    The DM did incorporate the News Chronicle so maybe a spark of truth can be found there.

  • nvelope2003 8th Jun '15 - 8:27pm

    I used to read the Daily Mail bought for a friend. I noticed that many headlines were misleading and if you read the whole story a completely different picture emerged which seemed to be presented in a fair manner. I do not like its views and it is extremely partisan like the other newspapers but it has exposed some shocking scandals and misbehaviour. At least you get something to read for your money unlike certain other papers.

  • William Summers 13th Jun '15 - 10:28am

    I think you have to be really careful before using fact-lite Daily Mail smear stories to make serious points. This LDV article clearly suggests it was the SNP turning his bins over, yet even the DM doesn’t conclude that was the case and presents little evidence about who did it.

    As for the ‘Lib Dem’ quoted in the article saying it was enough to “drive a man like him to drink”, this is either extremely naive or a deliberate attempt to make political capital from CK’s alcoholism by pretending it was because of SNP bullying.

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