SNP candidate says: “Politicians are a fair target for community justice” – and why that scares me

There’s an article in today’s Telegraph which details the febrile political atmosphere in Scotland at the moment. Andrew Gilligan describes being out on the campaign trail with Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland While she was canvassing voters on their doorsteps, two Nationalist activists were  filming her and shouting at hers. Gilligan goes on to quote Glasgow East SNP candidate Natalie McGarry as saying Curran was a “fair target for community justice”. It appears the Telegraph has been a bit naughty here, because the quote has been taken from McGarry’s Facebook page from 22 February when she was actually rebuking one of the filmers. She did use the phrase “Politicians are fair target for community justice” while voters and constituents were not. She tweeted it out herself earlier today:

I know Natalie and I like her, especially as she once managed to get the word “mansplaining” into a Scotland 2015 interview. I know her well enough to know that what she meant was more around accessibility and accountability. However, there are some people who might interpret that as having more sinister implications.

There are some very unpleasant things going on at the moment in Scotland. Aberdeen’s Tory and Labour headquarters were both vandalised this weekend with Q for Quisling and swastikas being sprayed on them. Earlier this year, Edinburgh Western SNP members were told to take the pictures of Labour canvassers and put them on social media. I know to my eternal shame that a moment of stupidity on one part of the internet can completely unintentionally  stoke a firestorm that hurts real people in another.

To be balanced, I should add that Natalie McGarry’s offices have been done over. However, I have never heard  of any non nationalist party suggesting filming of canvassers or candidates. That can be really intimidating, as Lib Dem and pro UK activist Hannah Bettsworth told me:

I had a man hold his phone up as if filming me. The heinous deed I was committing that he somehow needed evidence of? Standing on a Better Together stall with another young activist in Asda Aberdeen Beach.

Journalists can get a very hard time too. Sky News’ Faisal Islam was initially impressed with the SNP candidates he met:

But there was a dark side:

The BBC’s James Cook found that his Scottishness didn’t protect him from nationalist abuse when he dared to ask the First Minister some difficult questions. Writing about it, the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson said:

The SNP leadership are, in my experience, refreshingly open-minded, good-humoured and intelligent. But the problem with nationalisms as a creed is that it attracts, as its followers, an angry mob – in the SNP’s case, a digital lynch mob.

The other week, my friend walked past an SNP stall and politely declined the leaflet offered to him. He was called a traitor. Nobody should have to put up with that.

This all makes me very worried about a scenario where we end up with an EU referendum, the UK votes to leave (unlikely though I think that is) and Scotland then has another independence referendum. A choice between an illiberal, intolerant society where conformity is demanded and economic armageddon doesn’t appeal.

I get what Natalie was saying, but we all need to be extra careful about how our words could be interpreted  at the moment.

About caronlindsay

Scottish Lib Dem internationalist, mum, LGBT+ ally, Doctor Who, Strictly, F1 and trashy tv addict and blogger. Servant to two spaniels. She/her.
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1 Response to SNP candidate says: “Politicians are a fair target for community justice” – and why that scares me

  1. cocobelle79 says:

    I think that your suggestion that what Natalie was referring to was accountability and accessibility is a reasonable one. The problem for Natalie, however, is that she has offered a far less reasonable explanation for her comment. She says that when she referred to “community justice”, she was referring to the ballot box. That explanation makes no sense, of course, when we consider that she specifically said that voters were not fair game for community justice. One cannot vote for or against a voter, so her explanation is inherently flawed. My own take on this is that Natalie was speaking out not against those activists’ actions towards Margaret Curran, but about them involving a voter in those actions. Inherent in that statement, to my mind, was the suggestion that it would have been fine as long as the constituent hadn’t had to witness it. That concerns me greatly.

    I live in Glasgow East, and I met Natalie last week while she was out campaigning. She was polite and friendly and answered most of my questions. I’m still waiting for clear answers to others, but I appreciated her taking the time to chat to me. I disagree with her politics, but democracy means that we don’t always get the politicians we want, so I will accept Natalie as my MP should she be successful. What I will struggle to accept is any further irresponsible remarks and weak explanations that do nothing to assuage my concerns.


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