This is my only my second post for the village aunties. In my first post I said that I wanted to “be properly engaged and informed from all sides” in the independence debate, and I made a plea to both sides not to “rely on scare tactics . . .”. Some time has passed since that post, and I’m still waiting for that engagement. However, an interview with Alistair Darling published in the Sunday Observer has engaged something today which has prompted me to take to the blog again.
In the article Mr Darling helpfully explains why there hasn’t been any extended campaigning. Apparently “people can only take three or four weeks of campaigning, then they want you to go away”. Hmm, not sure about that but good to know our political leadership thinks I can’t keep anything in my head for more than a month.
It was however something else that really caught my attention. This quote (highlighted in red in the original text):
“the cyber-nat activity is disgraceful. They’ll trash anyone with disagrees with them. Salmond could stop it but he doesn’t”
This is a very dangerous, ill chosen, and misinformed statement for anyone, least of all a former cabinet minister to make. It may come as a surprise to Mr Darling to find out that these cyber-nats probably have more in common with himself in their dislike of our First Minister and his political views. It may also come as a surprise to Mr Darling that the yes campaign doesn’t actually consist solely of the SNP.
The type of person who engages in the deplorable cyber-bullying behaviour outlined in the article listens to no-one. Claiming that Mr Salmond could stop them is like saying Mr Darling (by the fact of him being a man) could stop the kind of misogynistic abuse suffered daily by many women, and highlighted by leading female academics such as Professor Mary Beard.
I deplore any form of “trolling”, but it is up to us all, together, to ensure that this type of behaviour gains no traction any part of our society. Surely this is a prime example of the kind, decent, common values any society should be promoting – a case where we all truly are better together.
Instead of taking cheap shots and highlighting the periphery of the debate Mr Darling should be setting an example. He should be ignoring, not adding flames to the fire of trolling by taking easy headline grabbing shots and clearly stating his case for the Better Together campaign. He says in the article that the campaign is going to get nasty – he’s just exemplified how and why.