UNIONIST politicians have been told to stop cosying up to social media “trolls” who carry out foul-mouthed abuse and intimidation of independence supporters online.
Politicians who promote accounts which have engaged in racist and misogynistic abuse have been accused of “hypocrisy” by the Scottish Green’s external affairs spokesman Ross Greer MSP. SNP MSP Christina McKelvie, Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee, added that threats must stop.
McKelvie, who has been attacked by unionist trolls as a “f*****g bam and a “c**t”, said: “I had to get the police involved just before the 2016 election as the abuse and threats where becoming a tsunami with hundreds of posts…a day. Many of these people, including some elected members, are blocked by me…on police advice.”
Ross Greer, who has called out trolls among Yes supporters, said: “Many unionist politicians like to demand the Yes movement cleans up its act, but they don’t see the hypocrisy of making this call while interacting with, following and promoting some of the nastiest trolls on their own side. They act like the abuse is all one way but everyone knows that’s not the case. Any party whose representatives give these trolls legitimacy through their interactions have no place calling out others until they get their own house in order.”
Last month MEP Alyn Smith proposed a new online code of conduct for the SNP as a first step to cleaning up Scotland’s social media wars. There seems to be no moves to tackle problems on the unionist side of the debate, howver.
A Tweet sent last week by former director of the pro-union Better Together campaign, Blair McDougall, said: “Mainstream SNPers who mocked us when we complained about abuse and now find themselves on receiving end of monster they created: no sympathy.”
The Sunday Herald has collated examples of some of the most vile trolling which pollutes Scottish cyberspace. Much of the vitriol is misogynistic. Pro-union Twitter user @brianspanner1 has described SNP MP Mhairi Black as a “nasty little f**k”;
SNP minister Roseanna Cunningham as a “bitter shovelled old c**t”;
Scottish independence supporter and actress Elaine C Smith as a “thirsty c**t”.
The identity of the person (or people) behind the account is unknown, but high-profile, pro-union Twitter users, including author JK Rowling and Labour Hame editor Duncan Hothersall, regularly engage with the account.
MP Mhairi Black was also a target of the ‘historywoman’ account run by Jill Stephenson, an historian. She said in 2015 Black was a “foul-mouthed slut”.
Twitter user @500_mrg recently posted an image of former SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh speaking to a group of children and said she was a “slut” who was “dressed like a common street whore”.
Edinburgh-based tweeter @mark2410 – who is followed by Tory MSPs Miles Briggs and Dean Lockhart – surmised that SNP supporters must be “rapists” because “they just don’t seem to understand that no means no”.
Graeme Orr, who tweets as @mrsitter89, said SNP supporters are “worse than rapists”.
SNP Councillor Julie McKenzie, who has been a target of unionist trolls, said: “It’s about time tangible measures were put in place to tackle it head on. Instead of sweeping this form of harassment and it’s associated behaviours under the carpet we all have a duty to call it out for what it is. A good starting point may be an open register of convicted online abusers.”
An account named @stevewright63 – which has now been removed – tweeted to SNP minister Humza Yousaf “people like you are just as much a threat to the UK as those killers in France”.
Another Twitter user who went by the name of @james47238383 before his account was suspended suggested terror group Isis “missed a turn” and should have targeted #marchforindy, a pro-independence demonstration.
He also described Nicola Sturgeon as “A F*****G prostitute”.
Former Tory councillor Gordon McCaskill was later suspended from the party after tweeting he would like to see members of Islamic State infiltrate Sturgeon’s home.
The account @BillyLawrence81’s tweeted in June 2016: “I’d love to kick that c**t @nicolasturgeon right in the face”. By putting an @ symbol before Sturgeon’s name he ensured the First Minister’s account received the threatening message.
Steven Burgess’s account @Beddau71, followed by Tory councillor for Forfar Braden Davy, posted a tweet in October last year which said: “The only way to protect Scotland is for these nationalists to be anaesthetised.”
There are dozens of tweets likening the SNP to Nazis, its leaders to Adolf Hitler and the party logo to a Swastika from accounts including @purpleline, @graeme_m_scott and @Trebor68.
The account @stevesayers1 lifted a video of a little girl giving a pro-independence message and posted it publiclyurging the NSPCC to investigate whether the child had suffered “abuse”.
In 2016 @Lizcampbell41 accused “SNPers” of constantly “touching kids”. She is followed by Tory MSPs Jamie Greene and Liam Kerr, Labour peer Lord Foulkes, and Scottish Ukip leader David Coburn MEP.
The SNP said: “Political arguments should be made with courtesy and respect at all times.” A Scottish Tory spokesman said: “There is absolutely no excuse for abusive and threatening language online and all political parties have a duty to make it clear this behaviour is totally unacceptable. We have taken swift and decisive action in response to incidents involving party activists or members and would expect all other parties to do the same.”
A spokesman for Scottish Labour said: “Any form of abuse is unacceptable.” The Scottish Liberal Democrats did not respond to a request for comment
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