The pro-independence ‘Yes Scotland’ campaign has been accused of coordinating ‘nationalist mobs’ to disrupt prominent pro-union events.
Labour MP Jim Murphy made the claims after being forced to suspend a speaking tour of Scotland after he was targeted by angry nationalists who shouted him down and intimidated staff. He had been touring the country on a ‘100 towns in 100 days’ tour in the run up to the Scottish independence referendum, urging Scots to vote ‘No’.
The Telegraph reports that the pro-union ‘Better Together’ campaign has now circulated a dossier that appears to show social media accounts belong to local branches of the official Yes Scotland campaign encouraging nationalists to attend Mr Murphy’s events.
Many share specific dates and times of Mr Murphy’s appearances, while one told pro-independence supports to give Murphy a “warm YES welcome”. Mr Murphy says that in the confrontations that ensued, he was called a “traitor”, “quisling” and “terrorist”, with one nationalist even accusing him of being an apologist for paedophilia. He also said that he had been physically intimidated on more than one occasion.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said, however, that Mr Murphy should just “ignore” the heckling. “If he wants to go and shout through a loud hailer at people in the streets then they should be allowed to [protest],” he said.
Yes Scotland said: “We condemn all forms of abusive, dangerous and offensive behaviour, whether it be Jim Murphy having eggs thrown at him, or Alex Salmond being harassed by a road rage motorist.”
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Mr Murphy said that his first 70 appearances had gone off smoothly, but since the TV debates the amount of abuse he has suffered has suddenly increased. He said that hundreds of nationalists had deliberately disrupted his events, with a “mob” on one occasion even gathering at an official Yes Scotland office.
He said: “All-comers are welcome, but there’s a difference between a crowd and a mob. The blame for this lies at Yes Scotland’s door. They should stop this mob mentality and they should stop it immediately.
“No political campaign in history can control the odd idiot. Every political campaign in history has the odd idiot. But that is not what we are talking about here. This is coordinated by one side against another.”
Yes Scotland said: “For the most part, the independence debate has been conducted in a responsible, peaceful and enthusiastic manner with only a very small minority on both sides behaving badly.
“The eyes of the world are on Scotland and it is vital that everybody – regardless of which side of the debate they are on – helps to show off Scotland at its best.”