Given my twitter feed over the last few hours I think I was right to highlight the increasingly poisonous nature of the independence debate, especially in light of recent vandalism to my constituency office.
Much of this vitriol and bile followed an inaccurate and unsubstantiated post by a Bath-based blogger who failed to check either the facts or the circumstances of the incident.
I want to be clear about the facts of the situation. Having spoken to the blogger in question, I have been promised that he will publish my response and that he will correct his article for inaccuracies. I hope that other blog sites such as Newsnet Scotland will follow suit. I also hope that elected members from the SNP who chose to jump on this bandwagon see that their activities on twitter should be checked before blindly posting on the inaccurate word of a blogger.
- I didn’t respond either the blog post or the twitter requests as I had much more pressing and important issues to deal with yesterday. I shall say no more than that but I think people should pause and reflect before harassing on twitter and writing blog posts.
- I don’t tend to respond to tweets that are sent to me unless they are from constituents and I don’t, usually, bother about blog posts but this is especially bad.
- The vandalism was not on the front doors as stated by the blog post. The doors to my constituency office have been like that since approximately summer 2010, mainly because I purchased a special paint due to the colour matching, not realising that it was ineffective for the job and requires to be sanded down.
- The reason there was no damage or otherwise visible when the bloggers photographer went around as my staff had taken the time to clear the windows and doors of the stickers.
- The reason I knew the vandals were pro-independence supporters was because they were pro-independence stickers. I think you can say this is beyond reasonable doubt.
- I did not report this in a formal complaint to the police but I replied to an email that morning from the local Chief Inspector who was introducing a new Inspector. I said clearly that the vandalism incident was minor but that I was reporting it informally as I was getting increasingly concerned at the poisonous nature of the referendum and whilst I was happy to take all the personal abuse that is levied on twitter, via email and in person I would not subject my staff to such abuse. It was not right that they had to clean these stickers off the windows and doors yesterday and it is not right that they have to work in such an environment. The Chief Inspector agreed and has arranged for my office to have a crime prevention survey done to best protect my staff.
- The press did not send anyone round to take pictures. I spoke with a considerable number of journalists yesterday on the other events in the constituency and they mentioned it to me. I explained the situation and they took the decision that a) it wasn’t a story and b) other events that day were much more significant.
My main concern remains the escalation and if you look at my twitter feed over the last 15 hours you will see that my concerns are justified and perfectly encapsulated in that timeframe.
The responses on twitter are a very sad reflection of the debate. I have asked the blogger to remove or correct the post on the basis of the above information. I hope that the blogger retracts his post, and perhaps thinks carefully about publishing unverified information in the future. It does him no good, it does the debate the no good and it causes unnecessary time to be diverted from what I am elected to do.
I will conclude by saying that I will sort the graffiti on my office door as soon as I can. I would hate for people to use that as an excuse to write inaccurate and misleading blog posts.