SNP MP’s Twitter tirade against Moore and Swinson

One of the problems faced by the SNP is the army of so called cybernats who spew nasty, insulting bile across the internet at anyone who dares to question SNP policy or independence – which, of course, are one and the same thing. Alan Cochrane from the Telegraph wrote earlier this year about these toxic, often anonymous individuals.

Those who cannot take part in this great debate without questioning the patriotism, and often the parentage, of those who don’t agree with them are much more accurately described as Cyberscum. As such they are, of course, a legitimate target for those who hope that the debate over the SNP’s plans to break-up Britain can be conducted in a reasonably decent fashion.

Willie Rennie challenged the SNP leadership to deal with these people in his keynote speech to the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference.

If they are not careful they will cause Scotland to become a divided country, setting Scot against Scot for a generation.My message to the SNP is simple: please don’t question my loyalty to my nation just because I don’t agree with your policy. It’s not all of those in the nationalist camp. There are many sincere, generous, liberal-minded people in the SNP. But it is their behind-the-scenes stalkers and abusers who need to be tackled. The SNP leadership needs to rein them in, to tackle the abuse, to overcome the division-creators. Their leaders need to act. And act now.

You would think, then, knowing the problems that they have with loose cannon online, that SNP parliamentarians would be extra careful to be positive at all times. They would take care not to fire cheap, gratuitous insults around.

Sure they would. Just like MP Pete Wishart did last night while speculating on the reshuffle.

And when I challenged him for being nasty:

I can’t find that tweet on his timeline this morning so it appears he thought better of it.

Now, maybe, if he was in the House of Commons cafeteria indulging in some full fat Irn Bru and suffering the effects of sugar high, we might find it within our hearts to forgive a momentary indiscretion.

Except this is the way he does business. Last week he put out an extraordinary press release, accusing Michael Moore of attention seeking behaviour and making a pointless speech. All Moore was doing was talking in his usual ultra reasonable tone about how important it was to reach agreement on the process for the independence referendum – and expressing confidence that he and the SNP Government would do so – by the end of October. For his pains, he attracted this tirade via the SNP press office:

The only reason for Michael Moore’s speech is that he is desperately trying to get noticed and save his job in the reshuffle – it was pointless otherwise…..

…These cost increases show that the £8 million Scotland Office is simply a propaganda arm for Westminster to use in their Tory-led anti-independence campaign. It has no other role, and Michael Moore’s recent pronouncements are just indicative of an attention-seeking exercise with a UK Cabinet reshuffle in the offing.

So, will Alex Salmond rebuke his MP for such a tirade? I won’t be holding my breath.

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

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  • Well, I was around the Whitehall political scene for the best part of 20 years and Mr Wishart’s comments hardly register on the nasty scale . His comments on Moore’s speech seem to be a reasonable but possibly wrong interpretation of the motivation behind the speech and hardly a tirade. Thicker political skins needed in the Scottish Lb Dems I think.

  • There’s a real dishonesty in this concerted effort to label-gun any SNP member who owns a PC as a ‘cybernat’ (with the implication of something-something-nasty). George Foulkes has sustained his political presence way too long with this one phrase . Why massage his ego further?
    But – seriously – Pete Wishart mentions a ‘panda’ in a tweet, and it’s a “twitter tirade”? Who’s really playing online politics..?

  • Pretty mild stuff. To describe it as a tirade is silly. To try to smear the SNP by associating them with the comments of anonymous twitterers is very poor.

  • Foregone Conclusion 4th Sep '12 - 2:51pm

    What on earth is a panda, other than a bear-like animal from China?

  • Gosh – a SNP MP tweets about a panda, and its Cybernuttery at its very worst.

    However lets just run through who Alex Salmond has been compared to, and by whom in the recent past.

    1. Slobodan Milosevic (Denis MacShane, Labour MP)
    2. Benito Mussolini (Lord Foulkes, Labour peer)
    3. Adolf Hitler? (Tom Harris, Labour MP)
    4. Adolf Hitler (again) (Ann Moffat, Labour MP)
    5. Adolf Hitler (again) (David Starkey, Conservative historian)
    6. Joseph Stalin? (Alan Cochrane, the Telegraph)
    7. Robert Mugabe? (Lord Cormack, Conservative peer)
    8. Robert Mugabe (again)? (Jeremy Paxman, BBC)
    9. Kim Jong-Il? (Lord Forsyth, Conservative peer)
    10. Caligula? (John Macleod, the Times)
    11. Nicolae Ceausescu? (Neil Collins, the Financial Times)
    12. Genghis Khan? (Kevin McKenna, the Observer)
    13. Nero? (Annabel Goldie, Conservative MSP)

    Oh and the Lib Dems own Ming Campbell getting a dig in at the FM by comparing him to Ayatollah Khomeini, albeit grudgingly retracted later in the quote. And lets just pass over that unfortunate Wille Rennie website parody with the FM on a camel.

    Little bit of pot calling here?

  • Kevin Donnelly 5th Sep '12 - 10:22am

    Caron Lindsay is scraping the barrel yet again.

    Not so long ago she was hectoring the SNP Government over the Equal Marriage legislation to be introduced by the Scots Government. She was wrong then (she may even have admitted it) and she is wrong now.

    “Cybernats” was the brilliant label deployed by Lord Foulkes against anyone who expressed even the mildest support for Scottish Independence. Followed up, as we know, by the continual depiction of Alex Salmond as any of the evil dictators who have scurged the globe, but worse, using the anonymous postings of some (who may or may not be “real” SNP supporters) to smear every SNP member or supporter or any person in Scotland sympathetic to independence, who dares to challenge unionist rhetoric.

    Even Willie Rennie has been forced to apologise for this particularly ugly trend of nationalist-bashing following a LibDem cyber-posting of cartoon portraying Salmond as an Arab dictator.

    As for Caron Lindsay’s faux complaint about the tweat of Pete Wishart, I’m sure Jo Swinson is long enough in the tooth to take such a soft jibe …. he certainly didn’t threaten her “with a doing”, as a certain Unionist MP is known to have done to a female SNP MP.

    To quote Alan Cochrane reveals the utter emptiness of Caron’s complaint. It is difficult to think of a journalist more hostile to the SNP/Salmond or more loutish in his commentary on the independence referendum campaign.

    Perhaps therefore (though I have low expectations), Caron might finally come to terms with the fact that there is no army of toxic cybernats or if such exists, she has no proof of their real motivations, where their true loyalties lie, or from which parties they emerge from.

    Given the toxicity of negative propaganda employed by openly identifiable Unionist politicians towards the SNP – many commentators are now wise to the anti-indy value of the “cybernat” as a propaganda tool for those opposed to independence. Caron Lindsay and others might care to lift the debate and follow suit.

  • Gregor Murray 5th Sep '12 - 10:38am

    This post makes it seem as though it’s a problem only for the SNP.

    Labour, Tories and the Liberal Democrats all have issues, as do other parties.

    The nasty spite put forward by the Liberal Democrat members, supporters and press office doesn’t come close to anything I’ve ever seen by pro-SNP bloggers.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 5th Sep '12 - 11:26am

    If you read through my blog, you will see that I’ve also criticised in the past Ian Davidson for what he did to Eilidh Whiteford, Jim Murphy for toxic comments on patriotism, Murdo Fraser for retweeting an insult to Willie Rennie without caveat, so I’m not just picking on poor nationalists.

    This debate on Scotland’s future is a highly emotive one and has the capacity to cause serious divisions. It’s really important that everyone conducts themselves in a reasonable and dignified fashion. Pete Wishart’s comments were the thin end of a big wedge. We still have to live with each other the day after the referendum and I’ve been consistently saying for months that we have to make sure we play the arguments not the people.

    Alan Cochrane is a fairly robust critic of the SNP, but it’s not a crime to question them. Nor is it anti-Scottish, as Joan McAlpine seems to think.

    My Twitter replies column is regularly filled with abuse from the cybernat fraternity. Lib Dems have to be pretty thick skinned these days. Pete Wishart has now blocked me on Twitter and my timeline is full of comments from his friends calling me precious, idiotic and accusing me of harassment. They should probably stop digging.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 5th Sep '12 - 11:28am

    Oh, and Willie Rennie, when he became aware of that poster, went straight on Good Morning Scotland and issued a genuine, heartfelt apology. I’ve never seen any member of the SNP apologise for much, much worse things.

  • “Oh, and Willie Rennie, when he became aware of that poster, went straight on Good Morning Scotland and issued a genuine, heartfelt apology. I’ve never seen any member of the SNP apologise for much, much worse things.”

    Examples would help here Caron. Examples of members of the SNP or MSP’s “saying much, much worse things.”

    Much, much worse things than comparing the FM with a couple of genocidal dictators?

  • Examples are quite hard to find I suspect Caron. Particularily where you said “I’ve never seen any member of the SNP apologise for much, much worse things.”

    Lets give you a hand. The only case I’m aware of recently is that of Lyall Duff back in April. he was an SNP candidate in the May elections. You may recall that he posted some unsavoury remarks on Facebook about midwives involved in a HR dispute, calling them “witches”. His remarks were condemed by the SNP, he aplogised, and resigned from the party.

    Lets run through that again. He posted a remark calling people “witches”, was condemed by the party, aplogised and resigned. I’m sure you will agree that its not in the same league as comparing a sitting politician to Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini or Pol Pot.

    So where does that fit with your statement “”I’ve never seen any member of the SNP apologise for much, much worse things.” ? Calling them a Panda perhaps?

  • douglas clark 5th Sep '12 - 9:24pm


    I hang around the internet and do comment from a broadly SNP perspective. So, I expect I’m viewed as a cybernat. Just to say I want to challenge the idea that ordinary people can’t comment anonymously.

    What are you trying to do here?

    You are right to say that this is the most important decision we have to make. But it is for voters to decide, not politicians.

    Ordinary people express themselves in the language they use day to day. But attempting to supress voices just because they don’t play by the same rules as you, Really? They are not trying to get elected. It seems illiberal to apply your standards to comments that are heart felt if not exactly parliamentary. I know politicians and their acolytes would prefer it if the great unwashed just left them alone, but to cite Alan Cochrane!

    You, of all people, should welcome the genuine democratiation that the internet has given us. Stupid voices, on both sides of the debate, will end up being ignored. You know that, I know that, so what the hecks the issue?

    You will note I am not anonymous.

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