SNP branch encourages its members to take pictures of Labour canvassers and put them on social media

Something very rare happened to me on Sunday afternoon. So rare that it hasn’t happened at all in the almost 15 years I’ve lived in my house. That it happened at all is indicative of a jitteriness in politics. Yes, a Labour canvasser turned up on my doorstep.

Clearly they are feeling that they have to try after years of just assuming that the votes will pile up in their favour. That is probably a good thing. Mind you, the one who came to us will have to do something about the look of sheer incredulity on his face when I told him I was voting Lib Dem.

He was such a rare sight, and his look was so funny, but it never occurred to me to take his photo and stick it on social media. Because that would be creepy, even if it were to be one of a handful of times I’d ever seen one on my doorstep. It would be quite intimidating as well. As a political activist, I guess I understand what it’s like for a fellow political activist. the massive chunk it takes out of your life. I may not agree with the opposition, but there’s a bit of empathy there.

The SNP in Edinburgh Western have no such qualms, though. According to the Daily Record, they asked their members to ask Labour canvassers 3 questions and take the photos of any who “lied”:

The Edinburgh Western SNP branch asked supporters to take the “sinister” action if Labour canvassers called at their door.
The official Facebook page of the branch posted a message saying: “If a Labour (sic) come to your door ask them about: 1. Trident renewal 2. Austerity vote 3. Fracking moratorium vote.
If they lie take a picture of them and post the information. Use the hashtag #labourdoorstep.”

This is reminiscent of the Wings over Scotland website telling their readers to go along to stations where Better Together campaigners would be giving out leaflets to take their pictures. While they might have said they didn’t want them harassed, having your photo taken without your consent and stuck up on a website without your consent is not what I’d consider acceptable behaviour. It’s pretty sinister.

It’s a tactic that’s about trying to make the opposition think twice about taking to the streets, fearing that they might face some sort of  intimidatory behaviour like that. It won’t work, but there’s a certain arrogance in thinking that that is ok behaviour.

SNP HQ quickly clamped down on the Edinburgh Western team, but even so, they’ve had to discipline councillors for burning the Smith Commission report, Douglas Alexander’s SNP opponent, Mhairi Black, who might well be in Westminster in May, is on record as having said she wanted to headbutt Labour councillors who voted No and, worse, said that No voters were “gullible” and “selfish.”

This is all a reminder of how nasty politics became during the independence referendum. It was a bruising and emotional experience and one of the most stressful times I’ve ever had in politics. Attitudes like those displayed by the Edinburgh Western SNP explain why.

Such a tactic is not going to win many votes, though and seems entirely counter-productive.

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

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22 Comments

  • Little Jackie Paper 19th Feb '15 - 9:48pm

    Well….political canvassing is public activity. I don’t see a privacy implication here as such. As regrettable as it is there probably isn’t a reasonable expectation of privacy here.

    Whether this whole social media lark is healthy is quite another matter.

  • I’d liked to be surprised; but I’m not.

  • Stephen Hesketh 19th Feb '15 - 10:54pm

    I agree Caron. This tactic has a slightly threatening/sinister edge to it. Canvassers should make a clear note of such behaviour on the canvas return.

    My personal hope is for a Labour/SNP coalition in May. They thoroughly deserve one another. On a positive note, it would also mean no Tories and, best of all, no coalition involving ourselves.

  • This is both creepy & intimidatory. As for the ‘lies’ let’s face it, any answer that doesn’t fit with SNP policy would be classed as a lie.

  • Dan Falchikov
    The populist party based on a lie that it wants independence for Scotland. Many years ago a group from Parti Québécois spoke to the SNP and concluded that the SNP was not in the least serious about independence.
    Independence means having your own central bank and currency.Your own head of state in what would be in todays world a republic..

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 20th Feb '15 - 7:19am

    So, Dan, am I to take from your comment that you support what that SNP branch was urging its members to do? And you somehow think the SNP are immune from criticism when they have enacted so many illiberal policies and created a Police force that stops and searches young children pretty much at will.

  • Proof that nationalism in all its guises has the same nasty instincts, based on the “othering” of those who oppose it.

    The SNP likes to pretend otherwise and that it is somehow different and progressive, but these things just keep on emerging, don’t they?

  • Jayne Mansfield 20th Feb '15 - 9:20am

    @ RC,
    Quite so.

  • Manfarang 20th Feb ’15 – 3:51am
    “….Independence means having your own central bank and currency.Your own head of state in what would be in todays world a republic..”

    Really? So Germany and France are not independent because they do not have their “own currency” ?
    Canada is not independent because it borrows a Head of State from across the Atlantic?
    Whereas Somalia is completely independent because it is has a head of state (but no effective government) and it has its own currency ( which banks refuse and which you have to carry around in a wheelbarrow if you want to buy a Mars bar.).

  • As Dan says — “…the SNP is a mainstream, progressive centre left party occupying the tradiditonal space of the Liberal Democrats..”

    Every objective observer both inside and outside Scotland can see that.

    Caron, have you ever considered that some Liberal Democrats in Scotland find your ” More Unionist Than Thou ” approach just a bit off-putting?
    If things carry on as they have done over the last few years you may find that the ever dwindling number of Liberal Democrat party members north of the border disappear altogether.
    (BTW – has the number of members for the whole of Scotland dropped below 2,000 yet?)

  • All nationalists are the same. You could swap some words around from UKIP to SNP speeches and you would get the same thing. “Its all Europes/Westminsters fault that it has rained today to vote us for change.”

  • John Tilly
    Independence from England.

  • Julian Gibb 20th Feb '15 - 3:03pm

    A discraceful misrepresentation of the facts. Has the LibDem Party now reduced itself to gutter politics. It appears to be an indication of how far you will now travel from your principles to hang on to power.

    The comments below your article further reflect the spin. Does no one recognise the language being used.?
    A fair society / free education / a protected NHS / free prescription a values that would have once been supported on sites such as this.

    I had thought the right to self determination would have been defended by Liberals. Disagreement Yes but not a denial to follow that right.

    It is not “Liberal” to misrepresent the views of others OR to create stories on a par with the worst of American gutter politics.

  • David Allen 20th Feb '15 - 3:24pm

    “A disgraceful misrepresentation of the facts”.

    Going to give us any evidence for that assertion then, Mr Gibb?

  • Simon Shaw
    Many years ago prescriptions from doctors were free. Labour did a u-turn on this and introduced charges. Labour also introduced tuition fees not so long ago.

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