The debate for Scotland gets ugly

With less than three weeks to go until polling day, the climate around Scotland’s referendum on independence has taken an ugly turn.

With less than three weeks to go until polling day, the climate around Scotland’s referendum on independence has taken an ugly turn.

Amidst fears of voter intimidation at polling stations, it is being reported that the Better Together campaign leader, Alistair Darling will this week hold talks with Police Scotland to seek assurances on the safety of voters amidst his “increasing concerns about the temperature of the debate.”

This talks come just days after the Shadow International Development Secretary, Jim Murphy was forced to suspend his 100 towns and 100 days tour of Scotland after speaking in Kirkcaldy on Thursday.

Video footage has shown Murphy being pelted with Eggs with members of the public clearly heard jeering him, some of whom accused him of being a “traitor”, “parasite”, “terrorist” and “quisling”.

Speaking to Sky News’ “Murnaghan” programme yesterday, the Murphy said of the sorry affair:

“I don’t mind heckles and, d’you know what, I don’t even mind people throwing eggs – that’s just a dry cleaning bill.

“But what happened after the first televised debate between Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond is that things took a sinister turn.

“Instead of turning up in crowds of people on all sides there was an organised mob of Yes supporters, facilitated through Yes Scotland and local organisations through websites, Facebook and other social media.”

He continued:

“I’m not suggesting Mr Salmond has orchestrated this, of course I’m not, but Yes Scotland at a local level have made that happen.”

Responding however, Alex Salmond seemed to indicate that Murphy was over-reacting to the event and should keep quiet. Speaking on the same programme he explained:

“I condemn any egg throwing or any intimidation from any side. Somebody was convicted, of course, of online threats against me. Somebody thought his car should be a political weapon. There was a woman, a Yes campaigner, assaulted on the streets of Glasgow.

“I don’t hold press conferences accusing Murphy of orchestrating these events, because I know that would be ridiculous to do so.

“So let me be absolutely clear to people watching, if Murphy comes balling and shouting in a street corner near you any time soon keep doing your shopping, keep doing what you were doing.

“He’s just like the guy with The End Is Nigh round his neck – he’ll go away soon.”

The temperature north of the border will have been raised still further following news that UKIP intends to hold a rally in support of the Union in Glasgow on the 12th September at which Nigel Farage will be present. Last time he visited in May he was forced to take refuge in a pub after being accused by some of being “racist Nazi scum”.

Writing in the Scotsman, Brian Monteith has accused Alex Salmond of failing to condemn such incidents, leading to a mood within the Better Together campaign at the grassroots that such intimidation can continue.

Monteith wrote yesterday:

“The blame for this bitter and ugly mood goes right to the top, beyond the Yes campaign staff, to the First Minister – not because he is organising it or knows any of the people behind it – but because, when this mobbing and threatening behaviour first began in May last year with the visit of Nigel Farage to Edinburgh, he failed to condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”

He continued:

“Ever since that day the dark side of nationalism has believed it has free rein and will be tolerated by the Yes campaign leadership when it tips over street stalls, defaces posters, screams insults and menacingly huddles round No supporters or innocent bystanders. Making light of the Farage incident gave carte blanche for more visceral insults and behaviour to be let loose, and we are now seeing the result.”


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