Salmond urges positive response to blog row
ALEX Salmond yesterday urged the SNP not to get involved in "negative" internet campaigns after a leading member was exposed as the author of a vicious blog that posted scurrilous allegations about political opponents.
Addressing the SNP national council in Perth yesterday, the First Minister broke his silence on the controversy that saw Mark MacLachlan lose his job as an aide to current education secretary Michael Russell. "The internet is a wonderful tool," Salmond said. "It gives us a means to engage with the public, to motivate activists and to affirm our positive case for Scottish independence.
"We must use the internet for positive campaigns, to build our case and not get engaged in the negative agenda. The SNP can only win and will only win on a positive agenda."
The First Minister made his indirect reference to unpleasant blogs run by so-called cybernats as it emerged that another SNP minister's worker had posted a supportive message on MacLachlan's facebook site. Norman Will, who works in the constituency office run by the community safety minister Fergus Ewing, reacted to the exposure of MacLachlan in the press by saying: "I am constantly unamazed by the ability of our 'free' democratic media to turn on our freedoms to speak our minds."
A spokeswoman for the SNP said that Will apologised if he had caused any offence.
She said: "Mr Will repudiates the insulting comments posted by Mr MacLachlan. He was expressing sympathy for someone losing his job, not any sympathy for material that had appeared on the blog."
In Perth, Salmond rallied the troops after a difficult week for the government saw him sack Fiona Hyslop as education secretary after a series of failures.
He compared the political opposition to an independence referendum with the "arrogance" that Margaret Thatcher showed Scotland.
Salmond said: "There is a strong public majority for a referendum, and our job is to translate that public support into a parliamentary majority.
"Each of the three London-based parties – Labour, Tory and Liberal – say no, no, no to Scotland, in the same arrogant manner as Margaret Thatcher did.
"That is one reason why the Tories and Liberals are at record lows in the polls, and why Labour are also behind. They are running away from the verdict of the people."
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