By a Newsnet reporter
The SNP has called for an end to the "denigration of people" in the referendum debate following a row over claims by comedienne Susan Calman that she received death threats after poking fun at the SNP's independence plans in a BBC Radio show.
In a statement following comments from Labour MP Douglas Alexander, an SNP spokesperson said both sides had to recognise that the problem spanned the constitutional divide and that Yes and No supporters were equally at fault.

Speaking at the 'Judith Hart Memorial Lecture', the Labour MP claimed that online abuse was carried out only by pro-independence supporters he called ‘cybernats’.

"This truly appalling episode is just the latest example of the hate-filled outpouring of the so-called cybernats, whose characteristic is general intolerance to everybody and anybody who does not share their outlook." He said and added:

"How has Scotland — rightly proud of our openness and tolerance — arrived at a place where a comedian is smeared, bullied and even threatened for speaking out and making light of the pretensions of politicians?

"All of us in Scotland should condemn unequivocally statements that poison the well of public debate and demand a different and better conversation ahead of Scotland’s choice."

Responding to the comments, an SNP Spokesperson said:

"We agree with Douglas Alexander - denigration of people has no place in the referendum debate, it doesn't matter whether those doing it support Yes or No."

The spokesperson condemned the online abuse aimed at Ms Calman but also challenged the view that the issue was exclusively a problem for the pro-independence side and highlighted several documented incidents showing similar threats and abuse from pro-Union supporters.

The spokesperson added: "It’s a matter of public record that Nicola Sturgeon has been sent death threats on Twitter, a posting on the No campaign’s Facebook page talked about firing bullets into SNP leaders, appalling remarks about Alex Salmond's dad were made on a Labour Party website, and the abuse directed at Susan Calman was disgraceful."

"All of it must stop, because the referendum debate needs to be a positive one with the people about what Scotland can achieve as an independent country – with the powers of independence we can build a fairer society and stronger economy, be a close friend and neighbour to the rest of the UK, and a good citizen of the world."

In February it emerged that Nicola Sturgeon had received death threats on her twitter account that threatened to "Kill the bitch".  The Deputy First Minister did not report the incident to the police and instead blocked the messages.

Commenting at the time, Ms Sturgeon said: "I hate to see stupid, offensive, downright ignorant rubbish from people purporting to believe the same stuff that I believe in.  But it is not just a problem from the Yes camp.  Some of the most diabolical stuff comes from people on the No side."

In another incident last year, a message posted on the official Facebook page of the No campaign contained a threat that bullets would be fired into SNP leaders.

The message from Gary Coburn, which read "I wish the vote was how many bullets do we get to fire into the SNP leaders." was allowed to remain for three days before being removed.

Months later another sick message from a Scottish Labour campaigner targeted the father of First Minister Alex Salmond.  Someone calling himself Daniel Kelly posted a message saying he wanted Mr Salmond’s father to die.

Offensive messages and comments have also been made by pro-Union journalists and some politicians.

In February 2012, Labour peer George Foulkes compared SNP supporters who disagreed with him over the path to Devolution as "Holocaust deniers", 'holocaust' being a reference to the mass killing of Jews by Nazis.

In September 2012 Lord Foulkes party colleague, Labour MSP Michael McMahon published a photograph of Alex Salmond standing alongside media mogul Rupert Murdoch with a caption that read "Remember the 96 Mr Salmond".

The ‘96’ was a reference to the 96 people who died in 1989 during an FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

The First Minister has also been compared to evil dictators by Unionist politicians and media commentators.  BBC Scotland’s Douglas Fraser recently compared the SNP to the regime in North Korea ...

... and Unionist MP Anas Sarwar, who leads Labour’s No campaign, earlier this year claimed that the Scottish government was a "dictatorship".

The row over online abuse has witnessed several journalists single out the SNP for criticism, with pro-Union Herald reporter Magnus Gardham alleging the online abuse suffered by Susan Calman was the result of "SNP intolerance".

Another to single out pro-independence groups was BBC Scotland presenter Gordon Brewer who has repeatedly used the derogatory term ‘cybernat’ to describe pro-independence online commentators.  This week Mr Brewer claimed the online attacks levelled at Susan Calman had been carried out by "pro-independence campaigners".

However there are questions over the veracity of the more serious claims that Ms Calman had suffered death threats.  Despite being asked to provide details, the comedienne has steadfastly refused to provide evidence of the alleged threats.

Newsnet Scotland also revealed that Ms Calman had turned down a request from the BBC to appear on Newsnight Scotland to discuss her claims.

This week also witnessed the BBC embroiled in another row when satirical programme Have I Got News For You witnessed guest host, actor Ray Winstone, refer to Scots as "tramps" and invite the studio audience to tell Scotland to "bugger off".


# MAcandroid 2013-05-04 05:59
Dear Mr Alexander,
You have vastly over generalised in your description of Cybernats as only being hate filled and abusive. I am proud to call myself a Cybernat and have never been abusive. If you were worth the effort i might try and find something interesting about you to satirise - oh - wait a minute - did I just do that ?
Yours for Scotland,
Andy Pearson
# jdman 2013-05-04 06:00
being one of those cybernats Gordon Brewer refers to in a disparaging way I am proud to be called a cybernat, the sites I log into have all of my details and on wingsover Scotland I log in under my real name, I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of, I have at times been a bit ott but who can honestly say in the heat of debate that they haven't,but deliberate abuse is something I abhor and do not wish to dish out or receive and I HAVE been on the receiving end of some pretty disgusting abuse on the telegraph webpage
# Davy 2013-05-04 06:18
I am a cybernat and I am proud of it, and I cant think of any cybernat ever making death threats in any conversation on the "net", all cybernat's I have communicated with spend their time on the social media promoting the positive side of Scottish independence. We take on the negative scare stories thrown at the scottish people on a daily basis by the BBC & MSM and show them for the trash they normally are.

We must be the only country in the world where a democratically elected government with a majority of seats in parliment are routinely denigrated by the state broadcaster and almost 100% of the countrys MSM, with next to no chance of rebuttal.

So until the pro-independence campaign gets a fair crack of the whip from the BBC and the rest of the MSM I will remain a cybernat fighting for independence the best way I can, infact its probability the only free way that is allowed.
# connect2 2013-05-04 06:30
I suspect that some Unionists and other members of the Westminster Establishment think that abuse targeted at Independence supporters is actually acceptable and that they, the Unionists are beyond criticism. I also believe that the hatred felt by some, particularly in the Labour Party, towards the SNP and their supporters is so intense that they don't recognise the Unionist abuse for what it is. Either that, or they really are nasty hypocrites.
# Macart 2013-05-04 07:14
If indeed Mr Alexander claimed that 'only' cybernats are guilty of online threat and abuse, he must be held to account for a very public lie and smear. Clearly this speech was not intended to calm any situation, but to incite further public argument.

Anyone who has spent any amount of time on public forums in this debate can also point to a litany of the vilest abuse from elements within unionist support. Clearly this is where certain politicians would like this debate to travel. They cannot, must not be allowed to have their way. This week, yet again, a compliant media has been falling over itself to peddle a myth of raving cybernats, with no attempt at balance, fairness, evidence or any pretence to investigate the issue of the day. Thankfully the internet and social media are open forums. People can see for themselves whether the politicians and MSM case bears any credence.
# maisiedotts 2013-05-04 08:11
Quoting Macart:
Anyone who has spent any amount of time on public forums in this debate can also point to a litany of the vilest abuse from elements within unionist support.

I agree Macart having removed my account from Guardian for just such a targeted attack. I notice he no longer posts - at least under the same name. Last post mid Feb :D Strange that don't you think?
# Macart 2013-05-04 14:17
Don't blame you maisie. Some of the stuff you come up against in open forums can be fairly grim. Gave it a rest myself for a couple of months last year. It can be quite depressing meeting it head on week on week. What gets my goat is the sheer neck of politicians, our so called representatives and elements within the media who are deliberately misrepresenting the general tone of the debate from one perspective only. I doubt they are losing any sleep over the social division they are causing. To them the ends justify the means.
# maisiedotts 2013-05-04 15:43
Wish I was on there today this has to be the stupidest comment I have read in a long time .......... or it's a UKOK poster pretending to be a YES voter. [no not paranoid just used to the tactics employed] It was certainly highlighted by No campaigner as being irresponsible and he needs to be told to pack it in.
# Macart 2013-05-04 16:20
There's always one with the throwaway soundbite. That is right up there though. You just can't approach any forum with the first knee jerk dumb response or riposte. There has to be some thought for the subject matter, tenor of comments and just plain common, old fashioned manners. I've been tempted on more than one occasion to respond in kind maisie, but as yet have chosen either to ignore overtly aggressive posts or to respond with an extremely, if not overly polite cheerio. They are desperate to drag this into the gutter, we can't let that happen. By all means we should be loud, passionate and committed to our position, but leave the rage and the gutter politics where they belong - at Westminster.
# clootie 2013-05-04 07:15
Someone sets up "the story"
The media reports on it it.
Then a Labour politician makes a speech on it.

Now where have I seen this before?
Oh yes, I remember - every day!
# From The Suburbs 2013-05-04 07:29
I seem to remember that a CyberBrit published Frankie Boyle's address and said someone should pay him a visit after he made remarks, about the royal family(?) I think it was on a Labour MP's twitter feed. Perhaps someone can confirm.

But don't remember the press or BBC running with it for three days despite Frankie Boyle being far better known.
# Leader of the Pack 2013-05-04 07:31
I myself have felt the need to vent my anger and disgust at many comments made OFFICIALLY by the NO campaign in light of blatent deliberate lies provocations and abuse. It is prevelent in the columns of the Scotsman newspaper, Labourhame website, The telegraph columns the Daily Mail columns the Daily Record Columns and many other MSM publication websites. To deny its existance is an offence in its own right. Many offensive comments come from Members of Parliament campaigning officials and so called journalists. The Scotsman newspaper has gone as far as publishing offensive caracatures under a guise of satire. What the No campaigns real complaint is the fact that they are losing their campaign online and if it wasnt for the BBC and MSM written publications they would have lost the entire argument years ago. They cannot publish their blatent lies online without challenge and that is their real complaint.
# Dalriada 2013-05-04 08:11
There is a Smash the SNP Facebook page and I have came across stickers in Glasgow city centre bearing the same slogan. If that isn't a call to violence I don't know what is.
# hiorta 2013-05-04 08:18
'Death threats' are clutched by Unionists like the drowning man grabs at a straw.
Could the real reason be that this welcome diversion delays the time when they must tell us what a 'NO' vote actually means, that they spell out why it is good, right and desirable for people of England to have political self-determination, but not us in Scotland?
No 'better together' here, is there?
# bringiton 2013-05-04 10:29
No Better it.
# James01 2013-05-04 08:18
With this kind of media onslaught I really can’t see a positive result forthcoming in the referendum, the truth of the matter is that the majority of Scots are blissfully unaware of the bias. The sad fact in all this is that we as license payers are in part paying for Unionist propaganda to be broadcast on a daily basis. The reason there is such a large nationalist presence on the internet is because that is the only voice we have in Scotland, and I fear that may not be enough.
# Breeks 2013-05-04 08:22
A massive contributing factor to the online hostility is the veil of ignorance and disinformation which the UK Government & media has perpetuated about Scotland for decades.

Who is to blame for the indignant British Unionist berating Scotland's ingratitude for years of subsidy when that is the story he's been raised to believe?

Be calm, unflappable, and keep yourself well informed so that you can enlighten the darkest mind. We HAVE the arguments to do it.

Scotland has many friends in England, and many who are even sympathetic to the legitimacy of Scottish independence. Fair minded people can see that knowledge and truth is the bedrock of the YES campaign, and that is what rattles Better Together to its core.

In many ways, the battle for Scottish Independence is not a choice between Yes or No, but rather a division between those who know the truth and those who don't, (or do but, won't accept it).

Knowledge trumps ignorance.
# Breeks 2013-05-04 08:41
And just to add, just as Westminster has painted itself into a corner with decades of false rhetoric and propaganda about Scotland, in the months ahead, I believe we will begin to see more of the same, with more and more chickens coming home to roost having been hatched by decades of the UK's 'casual' anti-European rhetoric.

Do we really have to witness Scotland breaking away from the UK and the rUK finding itself bankrupt and friendless outside Europe before the fair and decent people of the rUK finally rise up in revolt against their media?
# mudfries 2013-05-04 08:46
I just cant believe this story, when I think of the abuse that is thrown at independence supporters online and openly in the media then we have this "outrage" from people like Douglas Alexander when someone "claims" to have had a death threat! surely thats a police matter? I don't know, the unionists cant control the flow of info on the internet and then everybody online who supports Independence is a vicious cybernat!!! ok then I can see whats going on here.
# Peter A Bell 2013-05-04 09:32
It might have been more to the point if the SNP had demanded that Douglas Alexander provide evidence to back up his claims.
# call me dave 2013-05-04 09:33
Next up in the firing line.
MSP R Cunningham. All over the papers today.

A bit of explaining to do if the media comments are true. . . . . Oh wait ! From past experience it wont be.

Just the same . . We dont need to do silly things.
# taimoshan 2013-05-04 09:55
I'd like to know why my post about a letter to Douglas Alexander has been "modded" off?
# Diabloandco 2013-05-04 10:17
I was interested to read in the Herald that QT is intending to broadcast a young peoples version on independence.I wonder if " nasty cybernats" will be debated?
My comment on the questionable practices of those selecting speakers and skewing argument as in "audience vetting" didn't meet with the approval of the Heralds moderators - but then they rarely do.
# Dundonian West 2013-05-04 10:33
It is incumbent on Mr Brewer to substantiate his statement.
"This week Mr Brewer claimed the online attacks levelled at Susan Calman had been carried out by "pro-independence campaigners".
As a law abiding citizen in Scotland he must inform the police immediately with his evidence.
Not to do so is an offence.
Answers please Mr Brewer. Answers please BBC in Scotland.
# call me dave 2013-05-04 10:43
Am I right in my suspicion that the Bateman programme this Saturday has had its format tweaked. Three interruptions for news and sports headlines and Mr Whiteford taking a key role in the proceedings.

Fillers to pad out the programme and a minder in place perhaps. Is there not enough politics to discuss any more or was Bateman getting too much latitude.
I'll tune in again tomorrow and next weekend, I may be paranoid, there is even a couple of adverts now with the key phrase 'better together' one for yogurt and one I cant place . . Oh well the pressure may be getting to me.

# Signal Rock 2013-05-04 22:57
The other ad might have been Boots No.7 skin care for the ladies - whose current slogan is 'Even Better Together', prominently placed at eye level in their stores. Now if I was a conspiracy theorist...
# ds12 2013-05-04 10:47
Still no update from the police investigation into the threats made to Ms Calman.I would have thought the BBC and others would have been all over this investigation like a rash giving us updates.Maybe tomorrow.
# Dundonian West 2013-05-04 10:52
VIDEO.Bruce,who has travelled the world, states his reasons calmly,why he believes Scotland should be an independent country.
An excellent 15 minutes.
Post the link through our neighbours' letterboxes? :)
NewsnetScotland link to YouTube is at top of this page.
# Alan 2013-05-04 12:09
So who got the most death-threats? The issue here isn't really death-threats. If they were serious the police would be involved. The issue is internet trolling (a point the media seemed to have missed in a zealous endeavour to bad-press the pro-indepence movement). Trolling is something that nutters of all persuasions indulge in.
# thejourneyman 2013-05-04 13:26
I reject being called a cybernat I am a free man who participates regularly on all the top pro independence sites. I do so because that's where the true debate and information we need to make the right decision for Scotland exists. I am convinced this is yet another unionist attempt to discredit the one area of the media where the voice of the people can be heard loud and clear. Mr Alexander's patronising comments are nothing new and he knows he get's a free run in the MSN while all his efforts are overtly aimed at protecting his cushy number in London. I invite Mr Alexander to join the people here and share the vision he claims to hold for Scotland, let the people judge your opinion Mr Alexander sometime before the vote would be good!
# samizdat 2013-05-04 14:00
The video We are Scotland-Bruce,Bruce echoes my own sentiments in every detail,but why is it that in many cases it takes a Scot to leave and work in a few other countries to get the real perspective on their own.
It seems we have to escape the stultifying,ene rvating and malign influence of the British state and its media puppets to find who we really are and escape the conditioning we have been subjected to for generations.
Over the years many Scots have emigrated around the world and made a go of it elswhere and improved their lot in life.
Now we have the opportunity where we dont need to emigrate to another country, just find the backbone to reclaim our own at the ballot box.
# Hamish100 2013-05-04 14:08
Oh Dear,
wee Douglas having his wee go at Scotland again. Both his sister and him derived their influence courtesy of Donald Dewar (pal of their dad)and feel they have the right to talk down Scotland.
What a pity he lost his voice over the tragic loss of "Scottish Soldiers" just this week. The price of being in the union.Along with his pal now "Lord" Reid they ignore the important issues and concentrate on the pap. How I remember all those years ago Dr John Reid as Minister of Defence with a straight face state that the deployment of troops was a precautionary measure and they won't even need to fire their guns.

"Parcel of rogues" doesn't even come close to my contempt of such Scots sorry Britishers
# Abulhaq 2013-05-04 15:20
The reik of that old imperialist trick of divide and rule hangs about this affair. State media aka BBC branding pro-indie folk as extremists and terrorists hits it right on the button. The British State has historical form. Mahatma Gandhi was an "extremist" as I recall.
# thejourneyman 2013-05-04 15:53
Sorry newsnet, your site is informative and I'm keen to add to the debate but my posts either never appear or take forever for your moderators to clear. Have reached a point of just forgetting it and will stick with other alternatives where I can hear what others have to say and contribute when I feel I can add to the debate. Don't expect this to be posted my earlier contribution wasn't and it was on topic but hope you hear me anyway!
# Breeks 2013-05-04 18:34
If you have a beef with Newsnet Journeyman, they do have an email address to raise issues you're not happy about.

This is their site, their reports, their comments protocol, and their discretion to moderate posts or delete them if they choose. You can call it censorship, I'd call it editing, but I also recognise it's a privilege, not a right, to post comments at all. I've had comments deleted, and never had a problem with it.

If you are getting comments blocked, then why not email them and ask why? When you air your grievance in an open comment it looks mighty like a malicious post from a troll looking for something to cock his leg against.

If you genuinely are pro-indy, then we are all on the same side.

I'm not staff here, but might I ask if your deleted posts were personal, provokative or inflammatory? As I see it, Newsnet want to keep the comments concise and constructive, and that's 100% fine with me.
# Arraniki 2013-05-04 17:14
call me dave 2013-05-04 11:43

I think you could be correct.
I have also noticed on radio that "Scottish news" has been repackaged with the phrase, "Here is the BBC News".
Ah! the subtlety of the propaganda. Noted.
# Soloman 2013-05-04 17:40
Anyway back to the real story, what about this £500000 ?
# pomatiaH1 2013-05-04 22:54
I assume from the Unionists vehement opposition to Independence they would have supported the UK Government sending in troops in Southern Ireland, in 1916, to put down the Independence movement.
# jjmac 2013-05-04 23:16
A wee bit O/T but Brian Wilson the SNP hater and good friend of Ian Taylor of the 500 grand donation to the BT campaign once boasted of singing Irish rebel song in Stormont castle.
Strange man....singing songs which celebrate Ireland's liberty from Westminster but at the same time so opposed to his own countries liberation from the same organisation. There must be something in it for him.. just like the rest of them.
# pomatiaH1 2013-05-05 11:35
Yes, I was too harsh, but it posed the question, as you do, concerning the attitude of the Together campaign towards Independence in other countries.
We have the strange situation of Ian Davidson MP saying, that no Nationalist Politician (his words) should be allowed near the Commonwealth Games, when the other athletes and the representatives of the Commonwealth countries attending are all from Independent states which were once under the rule of Westminster.
I wonder how the BBC will deal with it; will the Saltire not be shown and the mikes fail when 'Flower of Scotland' is sung? Of course Chris Hoy was a bit reluctant to say he would race for his country, or at least the country where he was born and brought up.
# Licquor 2014-01-12 09:45
Gird your loins folks, we still have another 248 days of this diatribe to endure.

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