Pro-Union campaigner accused of attacking SNP MSP

Both the Yes and No campaigns have called for the abuse to stop. Picture: Hemedia
Both the Yes and No campaigns have called for the abuse to stop. Picture: Hemedia
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A Pro-Union campaigner has been accused of attacking an SNP MSP in a Fife pub during a referendum bust-up.

Police were called to the Novar Bar in Kirkcaldy following reports that constituency MSP David Torrance had been grabbed by the throat during the argument.

Eyewitnesses told The Sun how bar staff were forced to intervene after the pair - who reportedly meet up for a pint and a discussion about politics on a regular basis - clashed near to closing time.

A spokesman for Mr Torrance MSP said the ‘thuggish behaviour’ was ‘unacceptable’, adding: “The Yes campaign has made it clear that everyone must behave and it is high time the No campaign did likewise.

“The people of Scotland are entitled to a positive debate and a free flow of discussion.”

The incident comes just days after the SNP’s candidate for the recent Cowdenbeath by-election, Natalie McGarry, was subjected to political and personal abuse from pro-Union Twitter users.

As the debate on Scotland’s future rumbles on, abuse on social media from both Yes and No supporters has been highlighted.

Alistair Darling claimed earlier this month that so-called ‘cybernats’ were ‘shaming Scotland’, after some pro-independence supporters urged a boycott of Barrhead Travel, after its founder Bill Munro sent a memo to his staff warning them that independence would be a ‘complete disaster’.

Earlier this week, a Labour MP revealed how he had been left ‘terrified’ by anonymous threats from supporters of Scottish independence, while pro-Union supporters regularly target First Minister Alex Salmond, with some on Facebook describing him as ‘worse than Hitler’.

And searching the First Minister’s name on Twitter returns a number of vile insults, including one user who referred to him as a ‘fat conniving b******’, while another one called him a ‘grade A *****’.

Both campaigns have called for abuse in the debate to be stamped out, pleading for positive discussions and exchanging of views.

A spokesperson for Yes Scotland said: “People on both sides of the debate should always express their opinions in a reasonable and courteous manner and at the start of the campaign we issued social media guidelines.

“It’s incumbent on both sides of the referendum to ensure that the debate does Scotland proud and remains respectful of others’ opinions.

“On the whole, we think it is - apart from a small minority on both sides who let the debate down.”

And speaking in today’s Sun, Better Together chief Alistair Darling added: “Passion is good in a debate of this nature, but when it strays into personal abuse it is unacceptable.

“What is not right under any circumstances is when other people, like employers, academics or cultural figures are monstered for daring to give an opinion on the referendum.

“We can’t go on like this. The personal abuse needs to stop. I want to hear the opinions of everybody in this debate, regardless of whether you agree we are stronger and better together or if you plan to vote for separation.

“There is a hunger for facts and debate. Hard questions do need to be asked especially when there is so much at risk. But let’s do that in a way that’s a credit to Scotland. The abuse has to stop now.”