By Martin Kelly
Claims by Unionist politicians that the Yes Scotland campaign has been “rigging” numbers relating to their website have rebounded after it emerged that the platform used for the site was identical to that used by the Labour party both north and south of the border.
The attack on Yes Scotland followed comments by a Lib Dem blogger, Caron Lindsay, who had complained that settings on the site led to her image showing – implying that she supported independence.

Ms Lindsay accused the Yes Scotland campaign of trying to “massage” numbers by displaying social media credentials of people who had registered on the site.

Ms Lindsay, a Lib Dem supporter and pro-Union blogger, said: “The idea that I am somehow powering the independence campaign is ridiculous.  Apart from anything else, we all know it's being financed by rich mainly men, some of whom don't even live here.”

She later added: “It takes some nerve to manipulate the intention of people who have legitimate professional or political reasons for keeping tabs on them.”

The attacks prompted Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie to accuse the Yes Scotland organisers of “rigging” the website.

In a statement, Mr Rennie said: “They tried to rig the referendum, now they are rigging the website.  Following an individual or group on Twitter should not be misrepresented as support.

“The Yes Scotland website fails to make this distinction and implies that everyone who follows the campaign supports the campaign.  This is an underhanded way to pad out numbers to make it look like more people support the break-up of the UK than is actually the case.”

Ms Lindsay’s attack on the Yes Scotland campaign prompted articles in the Scotsman newspaper and STV online news.  In the Scotsman article, Labour MP Russell Brown accused the Yes Scotland campaign of operating a “scam”.

Mr Brown said: “To claim people support separation simply because they follow the Twitter account is deeply dishonest and purposefully designed to deceive.

“This is a scam and shows no one can believe any of the numbers of supposed ‘supporters’ the Yes campaign claim to have.”

However, despite claims by STV's Scotland Tonight and others, people do not appear as supporters of independence simply by following the site on Twitter.

The Nation Builder platform on which the Yes Scotland site is built, requires people to purposely enter their Facebook or Twitter account details before appearing on the site.  Indeed, twitter then requires permission from each registered user before allowing access to their Twitter credentials.

A Yes Scotland spokesman, when asked about the Twitter claims said: "Nation Builder by default considers anybody who follows on Twitter as a 'Supporter' as can be seen in their documentation.

"Aware that this would be problematic, the development team made the necessary changes to the Yes Scotland Nation Builder instance to strengthen integrity."

Newsnet Scotland can also reveal that the Labour party also used the same platform on its own websites both in Scotland and England with settings that created the same profiles for users, but crucially does not appear to have made any changes to the default settings.

We can also reveal that following the attacks on the Yes Scotland website, that Scottish Labour party pulled the public profile pages from one of its own websites.

The ‘Putting Glasgow First’ website was one of at least two sites created by Labour using the same Nation Builder software.  Glasgow Labour adopted the platform after the SNP's historic 2011 election win.

Labour also used the same default settings in order to create public profile pages for people who registered with the site using their Facebook or Twitter accounts.

One of those whose image and tweets appeared on a profile page on the Labour site, beneath the Labour slogan and alongside the UK Labour party logo, was SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter.

Clicking on the link for the page now brings up a message informing the user that the page cannot be found.  Newsnet Scotland has managed to locate a link using google cache:

This wasn’t the only website to use Nation Builder.  We can also reveal that Labour’s London Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone also used the same platform.  The site was reported to be offline earlier today.

The attacks on the Yes Scotland campaign website by the anti-independence alliance are similar to attacks on the Scottish Government’s referendum consultation.

However, claims that the Scottish Government had “rigged” their consultation were undermined after it emerged that the UK Government’s own consultation had received multiple submissions, with a large proportion coming from a Labour party website.

The Scottish Government, unlike their Westminster counterparts, have handed over all submissions for independent verification.


# gfaetheblock 2012-05-30 22:07
I still get confused with why pre populated forms on a labour site are derided, but the same forms on the SNP site are not mentioned.

In summary, they are all at it.
# snowthistle 2012-05-31 08:04
Don't think it's true that the forms on the SNP side are never mentioned G, I first read about them on this very site.
All for criticism where it's due but we have to try to be accurate.
# doonhamer 2012-05-30 22:13
All the unionists have to offer is lies and unsupported and fabricated accusations. Just once I would like to see a public apology from those who are proven wrong in their accusation. The lack of personal integrity and ethics is a sad commentary on today's political discourse. Admitting when you are wrong is not an admission of weakness but a sign of strength. The Unionists would be wise to learn that truth.
# jafurn 2012-05-30 22:39
# doonhamer
"All the unionists have to offer is lies and unsupported and fabricated accusations."

I can accept that the dependence parties will try this sort of thing,after all it's more or less all they have. What I find really disturbing is the way that all these smears and falsehoods are just repeated ad nauseum by the media. Then when the claims are proven to be unfounded the story is just left there hanging and no correction published / broadcast. That is dishonest journalism and the people who participate in this kind of thing should feel very proud of themselves........sorry I can't get my keyboard to do sarcasm.
# fynesider 2012-05-31 10:05
"Just once I would like to see a public apology from those who are proven wrong in their accusation."

Dinna haud yer breath doonhammer....!
# rhymer 2012-05-31 13:05
Quoting doonhamer:
All the unionists have to offer is lies and unsupported and fabricated accusations. Just once I would like to see a public apology from those who are proven wrong in their accusation. The lack of personal integrity and ethics is a sad commentary on today's political discourse. Admitting when you are wrong is not an admission of weakness but a sign of strength. The Unionists would be wise to learn that truth.

Can we enact legislation that would make radio/TV/newspapers broadcast or print media retractions use the same amount of space, page location and/or broadcast time ?

A two-line retraction, in 8 point type, at the bottom of page five is not an appropriate response to a front page headline that turns out to be a false accusation. This would pull the teeth of the bias media.
# Angry_Weegie 2012-05-30 23:56
Guess what. It's on the EBC who are only too happy to slag off the YES campaign without any mention of the use of Nationbuilder by other parties and campaigns. And, of course, the item only contains a quote from a Labour politician, who had, unfortunately, forgotten his own party's use of the site.

This is not just poorly researched journalism, it's biased journalism from an organisation that only two days ago proclaimed(UNCHALLENGED) while appearing before the Scottish Parliamnt's Culture Committee that they had a historic high level of public spproval and confidence.

I repeat unchallenged, as I'm pretty wound up about it.
# Marga B 2012-05-31 06:26
Note - Blair who was well versed in these things unfortunately, emphasised that the TV only goes where the newspapers have gone before.

Maybe he's right - TV don't have the staff for news gathering along with all their other duties.

Do people think there is any truth in Blair's statement, and if so, what should be done about it?
# Legerwood 2012-05-31 08:48
Marga B 2012-05-31 07:26
Note - Blair who was well versed in these things unfortunately, emphasised that the TV only goes where the newspapers have gone before.

That may once have been the case but not now. All newspapers have reduced their staffing levels because of declining sales and advertising - one feeding the other.

As often as not 'news' stories in the press come from stories already reported on the BBC News web site or from the Associated Press - a fertile source for party press releases - and Reuters.

Salacious 'news' stories and celebrity puff pieces are about the only stories that the TV News departments would lift from the press. How often on the BBC News web site would you see a story reported during the course of Sunday that had first appeared in the News of the World? Quite often. And often reported in a 'tut-tut aren't newspapers awful' fashion by the TV News as if to distance themselves from the underhand means by which the story was gathered in the first place but reported none the less.

I think the two arms of the media - print and broadcast - have in many ways -a symbiotic relationship. Each relies on the other for news to report.

It is a 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' sort of relationship which means that they are rarely openly critical of each other. It is not a healthy relationship and the public end up the losers.

The news media in this country whether print or broadcast no longer talk Truth to POWER, rather they talk the 'TRUTH' POWER wants us to hear.
# redcliffe 2012-05-31 03:05
Still on the BBC site with a 4 line para at the bottom saying Yes Scotland denies it.
Surely the facts mean this is a non story?
I think the issue of bias should have cropped up to Msrk Thomson with examples like this being brought up, the lack of comments and the failure to have a simple complaints method with an independent authority to police the beeb.
Stating that Farmer is opposed to independence in their headline when he is opposed to the status quo as well is of course another doozy this week. That he also stated given the choice of what is offered now and independence then he might choose independence was not covered...
# Al Ghaf 2012-05-31 05:02
Yes, the BBC has been dancing up and down with this, but for me it doesn't change the fact that I don't like the site much either.
# cardrossian 2012-05-31 05:42
On the subject of dancing, my wife has pointed out that in her column in the Daily Express, that paragon of virtue Ann Widdecombe has now joined the Department of Dirty Tricks and is making adverse comments about Scotland and things she obviously knows nothing about. Ho hum
# Sneddon 2012-05-31 06:59
As someone who makes a living from implementing software systems I can say that all the Yes Campaign is guilty of is not testing the software properly. The issue with Nation Builder is unless you know what your doing you may not know the implications of the chosen settings. Believe me when I say there are a few horror stories out there in the commercial world.
# Aplinal 2012-05-31 07:14
"Embarrassment for Unionist parties as attacks on YesScotland website backfire"

I wish, but I don't see it. They have 'scored' another mud sling, and NO WHERE will the same 'apology' be seen. So, another hit for the spinmeisters.

The YES campaign needs to be whiter than white until or unless there is a Damascene conversion in some of the MSM and a more balanced presentation of the issues is made. I will not wait for that to happen though (Hell and frost come to mind).

Anything and everything the YES campaign do, write or say will be scrutinized for the negative spin. It will be a turgid 30 months.
# mealer 2012-05-31 07:23
The Lib-dems accepted a huge donation from someone accused of fraud.I dont think Ms Lyndsay should be shouting the odds about who is funding the pro-Scottish campaign.
# andrewemmerson 2012-05-31 08:41
What a ridiculous ridiculous argument, not only have you spelt Miss "Lyndsay" wrong (It's Lindsay for your information),

But she is no way has tried to defend Labour, I'm sure if she'd found herself listed as a Labour supporter she would have blogged it and taken a pop at Labour.

Lumping Labour and the Lib Dems together as the same pro-union parties is like trying to put a siamese cat and a great alsation together because they both live in human homes.

0/10 Try harder.
# mealer 2012-05-31 09:34
Not at all.Ms Lindsay criticises the source of funding for the YES campaign whilst her own party has questions to answer about their own funding.Labour and the Libdems are united with the tories in their efforts to keep Scotland under London rule.To keep Nukes on the Clyde.To make Scotland a nuclear waste dump.To do down Scotland at every turn.
# src19 2012-05-31 09:50
Well said.
# alexmc8275 2012-05-31 12:41
No really what Is the difference in policy between Tory lib or labour at the moment, if you ask me they are all about the same, at least you know the Tories will slaughter the working population, but the other two, hang their heads in shame. Jeez I mean they had ed balls on telly the other night slevering about the economy does no one remember the banking collapse I wouldn't trust labour to feed the cat when I was on holiday. As for the lib dems, ha ha ha enough said.
# maxstafford 2012-05-31 09:01
What about lumping the Tories and Lib Dems together?
It's 'Alsatian', by the way. :-)
# src19 2012-05-31 09:30
The Pro-union Red Tories, Yellow Tories and Blue Tories are all the same nothing separates them other than party colours.
# Alba4ever 2012-05-31 09:08
How about a permanent - and prominent - link on NNS to the site?
# StephenGlenn 2012-05-31 09:17
I notice you posted that early this morning after a few corrections to the website from when it 'did' say People o' Independent Mind like you above the Twitter avatars.

Claiming that all twitter followers were supporters is the issue as any one with any political social media will knowledge will tell you follow the opposition as well as your friends.
# Jim1320 2012-05-31 09:58
Today is the day that the Scottish Government formally push for independence in Holyrood. This rather pathetic attack is just another negative campaigning tactic from the Unionist side to attempt to spoil a good day for the Yes side.

Lies, and hysterical squawks about "scams" is all they have. It also highlights that Russell Brown doesn't know what a scam is.

The site was clear about whether you wanted to click on following it on twitter or facebook. If you click yes how the hell can the software determine whether you support the campaign or just want to spy on it? These people are internet illiterates and probably shouldn't be left alone with sharp objects either.
# Jim1320 2012-05-31 10:16
Also, I should have said, if Lyndsay actually signed the Yes campaign then she will be counted not because of any fault with the software but because she is a twit.

If she hasn't signed it and simply clicked follow on twitter what does it matter if the site shows her as a follower - she wants to be a follower. Why should the site have separate supporter and a nosey parker sections for twitter? At the end of the day her name will not be on the signed list of supporters.
# BeltaneFire 2012-05-31 10:24
It's ironic that the masters of spin, manipulation and the political lie point their collective Unionist fingers at the SNP or 'The Yes Campaign' at every and any opportunity. Clearly, they have no shame.

These are mere distractions from what should be an intellectual debate.

Nothing that has been said makes an independent Scotland unviable!
# Ayrshire man 2012-05-31 10:35
What was wrong with saying "people o independent mind like you"?

Are we not all independent to make up our own minds on the info that will be listed on the yesscotland website for everyone to form their own opinion on the facts, not the unionist propaganda that we have all been subject to from the BBC since they learned to control the masses with their subliminal control by drip feeding us all scare storys to keep us in check.
# MAcandroid 2012-05-31 12:38
Not quite all !
Pro-dependency MPs and MSPs do not seem to be of independent mind.

Vote YES to change Scotland for GOOD.
# Dundonian West 2012-05-31 10:38
What a mixed crew these anti-independence lot are.
Uniting together to defeat independence and betterment for ALL the people in Scotland---who'd have believed it?

Labour in Scotlandt:"We're stronger together than apart".
Together,and in bed with the Torys,that's what they mean!
Red Tory/Blue Tory.Spot the difference.

They'll do and say ANYTHING as a bunch,to stop independence and improvement for the ordinary man and woman in the street.
Power and Patronage plus a wee bit of sleaze on the side----at Westminster and local government in Scotland.
Been going on for YEARS----it's called a Gravy Train.
Vote YES in 2014.
# Jim1320 2012-05-31 10:53
Had a quick look at the Beeb - they are leading on the Holyrood debate on independence (hope Rosanna presses the right button) this story doesn't seem to get a mention.

Ooops just found it - doesn't seem to have the usual prominence that an anti-story normally gets. Is it just me or has there been a slight softening on the Beeb. Perhaps the continual complaints are having a small impact.
# xyz 2012-05-31 12:12
I don't think the'yre softening at all I think they are using their thick bone heads to dig in.

Note Angry Weegie's comment above:

And yesterday I watched Brian Taylor repeatedly try to interrupt an SNP MSP while agreeing with the unionist MSP
# rgweir 2012-05-31 11:27
That is it then,I have lost faith in the SNP.
They had 2 execs from the BBC sitting in front of them and they bottled it.
I suppose we will never know why the SNP members on the committee failed to ask about the bias and the shutdown of comments on the BBC politics blogs.
I am 63 and not in great health,I spent my life being involved in politics fighting for independence but this has brought my fight to an end.
I get the feeling that the SNP don't want to take on the BBC and the MSM,For what reason I don't know but there may be someone here who could tell why they had 2 targets sitting in front of them and they bottled it.
I don't think I can have any faith in the Scottish govt now,Please tell me I am wrong
# Macart 2012-05-31 11:41
Its just a guess rg but I'd say because they don't have to.

People are becoming more aware of media bias and political backing by the day. Independence supporters are constantly banging on doors, bombarding them with letters, emails, phone calls and now protest to the point where other nations are taking notice. There was an RTP piece on BBC bias recently and the Equinox coverage of the recent protest. Hopefully some kind soul on here still has the link.

Also using their governmental power whilst in the throws of the independence campaign would give the opposition an open goal. The instant the government hauled the MSM over the coals they'd cry foul, tampering with the freedom of the press, blah, blah, blah.

Whereas letting interested parties such as ourselves constantly hold them to account.......... well that's a different matter.
# Aucheorn 2012-05-31 11:59
Quoting Macart:
Also using their governmental power whilst in the throws of the independence campaign would give the opposition an open goal. The instant the government hauled the MSM over the coals they'd cry foul, tampering with the freedom of the press, blah, blah, blah.

This basically the same reply I've had from 2 MSP's, but one did add "Notes are being taken".
# Macart 2012-05-31 12:19
Like I said Aucheorn its just a guess, but I think the most plausible explanation.
# xyz 2012-05-31 11:53
I share you disappointment, I'm scratching my head thinking there must be a reason I can't quite see. It seems it's all-right for Westminster No. 10 aids to lambaste the BBC for bias as seen in another supposed 'off camera' situation but not for the Scottish government.

However I'm reminded of another stooshie recently amongst SNP members, not sure what it was all about, but some were ~allegedly~ tearing up their membership cards, and complaining loudly on the internet. I Think it might have been about NATO . Anyway after all the gnashing of teeth it turned out to be a storm in a teacup. It was a unionist inspired stooshie to force the SNP to make statement on a policy change that never was.
# Jim1320 2012-05-31 12:02
Down in London the Conservatives have on a number of occasions lost the plot about a perceived bias against them. During the lead up to the Iraq war Blair was vexed by a perceived bias on the part of the BBC. None of these events have reflected well on the individuals concerned. The SNP are, I would suggest, not complacent but rather careful. They are not giving the MSM a toe hold to suggest that they are paranoid or control freaks both of which worry voters.

The two gentlemen for the BBC made a number of statements including that the BBC does not scenario plan and that there is no plan B if Scotland becomes independent. One must hope they were not so foolish as to lie to a parliamentary committee. The truth will out.
# Dundonian West 2012-05-31 12:29
Up here in Scotland we have ALL 'major' parties against us.
They are all in cahoots re being rabidly anti-SNP.
Add to that the BBC and newspapers in Scotland.
In England the situation is different----the parties are fighting from their own corners,as is the press----they are NOT united----.
In Scotland the opposition is ONE large entity desperate to survive,and the SNP is threatening their UNIONIST existence.
However,I do agree their behaviour is becoming increasingly counterproducti ve--my pals at Uni are sitiing up and speaking about it----this hasn't happened in the past.
# Aplinal 2012-05-31 12:21
O/T but don't know where to put it. Scottish Sun, an unbiased article about the major pros and cons of Independence. Worth a look (and a supportive comment)
# Macart 2012-05-31 12:51
To quote one of the posters 'a breath of fresh air' positives and negatives layed out and easily understood.

By the Sun?????
# jafurn 2012-05-31 13:55
Thanks for the link Aplinal

Perhaps the 'dam' has burst and all we need are a few more articles with a similar 'fair and balanced' content and then people can make up their mind.

Who'd a thought it would be from the (Scottish)sun???
# call me dave 2012-05-31 16:39

A little damp patch in an arid desert of lies and misdirection.

We need more articles like this.
# Davy 2012-05-31 12:22
After just watching another FM question time otherwise known as the (droopy, dopey and rennie show)I wonder if we should worry about the MSM,BBC etc and the actions that they take against independence.

Because the three stooges are fully capable of dropping themselves and their parties right in it. It was the most dire performance by the unionist leadership I have seen for a while, and their members were applauding them ???

Vote YES, Vote Scotland.
# Briggs 2012-05-31 16:27
Just watched FM's questions and I was a bit perturbed by the rabble accompanying Lamont's rehearsed questions?
Is this a new tactic, to scoff and shout when Alex tries to answer her blethers?
It all seemed to be centred on Nicola Sturgeon saying that the Scottish Government would seek a place on the Committee that oversees the Bank of England, after Independence.
A logical demand I would think?

Did I miss something with this?

Abominable behaviour rivalling the 'Punch & Judy' performances during PMQ's.
# jafurn 2012-05-31 13:21
A wee bit O/ T but not too much

'Stronger together' ??? really.. not so you would notice..
# xyz 2012-05-31 13:37
Great stuff from Stewart Hosie
# Dál Riata 2012-05-31 14:05
Re the YesScotland website:

I do hope the site's webmaster(s) have done all they can to prevent hackers infiltrating the site via any vulnerabilities , etc. and keep it constantly secure. Vigilance is vital.
# jafurn 2012-05-31 14:32
Linda Fabiani giving a very powerful speech in favour of Independence in the Scottish Parliament...
# ql 2012-05-31 14:46
It worries me when politicians assume things about technology, especially internet technologies. Worse, some seem top revel in their lack of understanding. Don't forget that the Lib Dems are now supporting their masters' demands for routine internet surveillance - they are not in a position to pontificate on when they plan to treat us all as potential criminals or worse. And UK Labour started the "Interception Modernisation Programme" don't forget, wide-scale routine surveillance by default. If they understood what the Internet is and how its protocols work, they'd realise how iniquitous their proposals are, and therefore how little they should be saying about this web site issue.
# Old Smokey 2012-05-31 16:19
Slightly O/T. Anyone catch the drivel this morning on BBC Good Morning Scotland on the Radio. Conerning the Olympic Rings in Glasgow. I felt that I was being told that we should be grateful and that we have this bauble which will encourage us to accept and support the Olympic games and hopefully encourage people to start buying tickets for the games in Hampden Park, as so far only about 25% have been sold. they have have been giving them away to schools to try and fill up the seats. Basically it was a guilt trip of 'weve given you this bauble, why dont you play nicely' gave me the bauke listening to the BBC
# rob4i 2012-05-31 16:53
Regardless of all the misinformation that will be hanging around in the Media for the next 2yrs. it is IMPERATIVE that this opportunity is taken by the Scottish electorate to rid our country of Unionism once for good!!
# Jim1320 2012-05-31 18:35
Did anyone understand Ruth's question? If there are 1500 applications to Dundee and 25% have dual passports that = 375. How can 375 applications cost £15m? Universities receive far more applications than places available. We would need to know how many were accepted and how many were deemed legitimate twin passport applications before costs can even begin to be calculated.
# Caadfael 2012-06-01 11:50
375 applications @ £9000 = £m3.375
Over 4 years, this then = £m 13.5
Back to school Ruthie, this time pay attention!

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