One of the problems faced by the SNP is the army of so called cybernats who spew nasty, insulting bile across the internet at anyone who dares to question SNP policy or independence - which, of course, are one and the same thing. Alan Cochrane from the Telegraph wrote earlier this year about these toxic, often anonymous individuals.
Those who cannot take part in this great debate without questioning the patriotism, and often the parentage, of those who don't agree with them are much more accurately described as Cyberscum. As such they are, of course, a legitimate target for those who hope that the debate over the SNP's plans to break-up Britain can be conducted in a reasonably decent fashion.
Willie Rennie challenged the SNP leadership to deal with these people in his keynote speech to the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference.
If they are not careful they will cause Scotland to become a divided country, setting Scot against Scot for a generation.My message to the SNP is simple: please don’t question my loyalty to my nation just because I don’t agree with your policy. It’s not all of those in the nationalist camp. There are many sincere, generous, liberal-minded people in the SNP. But it is their behind-the-scenes stalkers and abusers who need to be tackled. The SNP leadership needs to rein them in, to tackle the abuse, to overcome the division-creators. Their leaders need to act. And act now.
You would think, then, knowing the problems that they have with loose cannon online, that SNP parliamentarians would be extra careful to be positive at all times. They would take care not to fire cheap, gratuitous insults around.
Sure they would. Just like MP Pete Wishart did last night while speculating on the reshuffle.
And when I challenged him for being nasty:
I can't find that tweet on his timeline this morning so it appears he thought better of it.
Now, maybe, if he was in the House of Commons cafeteria indulging in some full fat Irn Bru and suffering the effects of sugar high, we might find it within our hearts to forgive a momentary indiscretion.
Except this is the way he does business. Last week he put out an extraordinary press release, accusing Michael Moore of attention seeking behaviour and making a pointless speech. All Moore was doing was talking in his usual ultra reasonable tone about how important it was to reach agreement on the process for the independence referendum - and expressing confidence that he and the SNP Government would do so - by the end of October. For his pains, he attracted this tirade via the SNP press office:
The only reason for Michael Moore’s speech is that he is desperately trying to get noticed and save his job in the reshuffle – it was pointless otherwise.....
...These cost increases show that the £8 million Scotland Office is simply a propaganda arm for Westminster to use in their Tory-led anti-independence campaign. It has no other role, and Michael Moore’s recent pronouncements are just indicative of an attention-seeking exercise with a UK Cabinet reshuffle in the offing.
So, will Alex Salmond rebuke his MP for such a tirade? I won't be holding my breath.