‘The cyber-nat activity is disgraceful. They will trash anyone who disagrees with them. Their intention is to make people keep their heads down. Salmond could stop it, but he doesn’t choose to,’ said Alistair Darling, leader of the Better Together campaign, last month.
Supporters of Scottish nationalism have dominated the web for the last five years, slinging abuse and hatred at anyone who dares to speak in favour of the Union. They began in the Scottish newspapers’ online comment sections, honed their craft via email and found full voice with the advent of social media. Twitter is the cesspool of choice for the ‘cyber-nat’ community.
Last year Ceilidh Watson, a former Miss Scotland, appeared in a Better Together launch video and was instantly bombarded by Tweets questioning her mental status, sexual promiscuity and future career prospects in an independent Scotland. None of these William Wallace web-wannabees used their own name, hiding instead behind pseudonyms and pixelated Saltires.
By comparison the pro-Union campaign is, like its leader, rather retiring. But Scottish Labour MP Jim Murphy appears to have been fighting back – not online, but on the Commons floor. Witnesses report that he told the SNP’s Pete Wishart to ‘Fuck off, fuck off, fuck off’ during a division. Disgraceful, as Darling might say!