The Cybernat Song. Cybernats – a Scottish political phenomenon | David Torrance. It was, I think, the noble Lord Foulkes who coined the memorable term ‘cybernats’. The Scotsman’s David Maddox likened them to an army who ‘launch daily, sustained attacks on journalists, politicians and anybody else perceived to stand in the way of their cherished aim of independence, or who raises even the mildest criticism of Alex Salmond or the SNP’. And so it proves with Scotland on Sunday’s serialisation of my new biography of the First Minister.
To be fair, the comments quoted below attached themselves to a ‘news’ take on an excerpt from the book, which – as news stories often do – dispensed with important context, although it did contain the main point of the wider piece, that Alex Salmond can be aggressive and treat his staff badly. Even at 1 a.m. this morning, barely half an hour after the stories appeared online, the cybernats got to work. Too true. Return of the BritNats | Still Raining, Still Dreaming. A couple of weeks ago I was violently abused by a British Nationalist after one of their public meetings, for the perfectly fair reason that my phone was too bright for the attacker to be able to hear the speakers. I’d previously seen how easy it was to get in the media after such events – you don’t even need to provide any evidence whatsoever – so I went to the top and sold my story to the best of the Scottish media, before spending days locked inside for fear of another attack.
Today, I finally plucked up the courage to go out to the shops as I hadn’t eaten since the ordeal. To my horror, I bumped into a three-headed monster! The masses wait for Murphy as an HS2 train zooms by. Labour MP Jim Murphy was coming to town for what would be the 75th edition of his “100 Streets” independence referendum tour. But this wasn’t a Yes/No split – as Jim arrived with his two Barr’s crates and got going on the microphone, the first to interrupt were grumpy men in woolly jumpers. He wasn’t finished. My vile BritNat assault ordeal.
I’d waited a long time for an official independence meeting to take place in my home town of Stonehaven, so when I read on Monday morning that Better Together (or No Thanks or SNPSNPSNPBOOO! Or whatever they’re calling themselves this week) were holding just such a thing at the town hall that evening, I bounded along Allardice Street with all the enthusiasm I could muster. Why had it taken until just five weeks before the vote to have such a meeting? I wasn’t sure. But since the Commonwealth Games I’d seen a rise in the amount of Yes signs, posters, car stickers and flags in the town. Considering I only found out about it on the day, I thought there’d be hardly anyone there, but to my surprise the town hall was bulging with comfy chairs. As I looked around for people I recognised while taking my seat (I maybe knew around 6 or 7 folk), I missed the name of the chair. No Better Together Thanks had arranged two august speakers to perform a rap battle (I wish) of 15 minutes each.
“Look. CyberNatWatch 2014. Twitter accounts to watch out for. Twitter accounts to watch out for. Yes campaigners launch bid to silence cybernats. Custom byline text: Magnus Gardham Political Editor A group of respected party activists, with a high-profile presence on social media, has begun policing offensive comments on blogs and social networking site Twitter. In a separate move, the pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign has highlighted warnings to supporters not to make personal attacks or engage in abuse. The problem is not limited to the nationalist side of the referendum debate, with the SNP complaining of Unionist "unitrolls" spreading online abuse. The latest spat followed BBC reports on the Scottish Government's decision to accept a more neutrally-worded referendum question, which attracted more than 1300 comments on the corporation's website. SNP activist Calum Cashley stepped in to silence a cybernat called SNPDunblane who prompted a furious online backlash after suggesting the BBC should not have allowed comments on the issue from outside Scotland.
"It is not a party thing. Frances Barber’s Cybernat abuse | Roaming Adhocrat. This is an exhaustive record of a real live Torrent Of Cybernat Abuse™. Frances Barber is a respected English actor. Today she tweeted this: She then repeatedly claimed to be subject to abuse by Cybernats. I think this abuse deserves to be seen in full.
She did receive at least two or three abusive comments (where abusive language was used against her): Those are the worst tweets I was able to find. “They died so you could make small political points with their bodies and memories. “You do see that many perfectly reasonable Scots will be deeply offended by you scoring cheap points off D-Day dead don’t you?” “It’s not an election. “Really? “You insult the war dead by using them to make a snipe political point. “Wow, this is poor. “Have a word with yourself you attention-seeking troll. “Not even reading the comment here. “Why Frances? “Bigots use people’s background or beliefs to make insulting generalisations about them.
“Disgraceful thing to say. “Very poor taste. “Why make Salmond sick? Social media support ‘growing for Scottish Independence’ The report, from PR agency Hotwire, observed the yes vote gain almost 10% more support between March and April, despite multiple swings in the volume of positive sentiment. Key findings: • Online support for voting ‘yes’ increases by 10% between March and April • Peak support on 7 April saw 38.84% of all #Indyref tweets support ‘yes’ • Volatility of online support linked to media coverage Hotwire’s Insights and Analytics team has been monitoring support for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ for two months since 7 March.
On 7 March, the amount of support for voting yes stood at 14.8% of all tweets using the official hashtag. The data analysis has found voters are more likely to tweet in favour of voting yes after listening to debates and interviews. There is an evident link between the news agenda and support for voting yes for independence. The yes vote saw support peak on 7 April, with 36.84% of all official hashtag users. By comparison, very little traction is gained by the ‘no’ vote across Twitter. Twitter and Cyber-Bullying. Monday, January 27th, 2014 @ 3:07PM I had the opportunity to fulfill a personal ambition when I was invited on to Question Time last week, a programme which as a young person was an introduction for me to real political debate and one I still find tests my certainties and assumptions. So I had the chance to emulate many of my Labour heroes last Thursday night by taking on David Dimbleby, Ruth Davidson, John Swinney, Jim Sillars and an impressive Dundee audience who weren’t going to be conned by anyone.
Of course, I was bit worried that I would mess it up. I was a bit worried about sticking my colleagues in it by saying something wrong. But there was something I was more worried about. I knew that taking part in a high profile debate would have consequences. Sure enough, the diatribe and insults that we have learned to brush off as part of the job have multiplied. Recently, someone on Twitter decided to inform me they would like to see what I looked like on the end of their bayonet.
Mycybershame21.jpg (JPEG Image, 1750 × 2076 pixels) The howls of the cyberbritbrats. The Daily Mail continues its attacks on the evil cybernats, and is still valiantly trying to make out that online abuse is the sole preserve of independence supporters. Today they had an interview with Kezia Dugdale MSP, former aide to George Foulkes who used the ID Fifi Le Bonbon when she was a cyberbritbrat and an active and enthusiastic participant in the zoo that passes for the comments section of the Scotsman newspaper.
Kezia was pictured in the Mail an unflattering photo which made her look like a refugee from the former East Germany who had narrowly escaped the Stasi. She was upset that she had ‘recently’ been the recipient of an offensive tweet, although it turned out the tweet was sent over a year ago. The tweet wasn’t helpful to the independence cause and was crass and stupid, but it was not a direct threat – the tweet read “dancing on the head of a pin? I wish Kezia Dugdale would dance on the head of a bayonet”. It’s a peculiar tactic. Like this: Like Loading... Cybernats – a Scottish political phenomenon | David Torrance.
Jim Murphy: Cybernat Detector. Greg Moodie@gregmoodieNational Collective. ‘Cybernat’ is a Loser’s Word | Eric Joyce MP. Today’s (Glasgow) Herald has a story about ‘cybernats’ posting rude messages on social media about Olympic champion cyclist Sir Chris Hoy’s opposition to Scottish independence. For the uninitiated, ‘cybernat’ is the term used in Scottish politics to refer, ostensibly, to slightly mad old-school nationalists who post vile, personalised attacks on their political opponents. Some politicos in Scotland don’t seem to understand, though, that this attack doesn’t really work as a political device as it seeks to apply a pejorative to the SNP when everyone knows it can be applied to some supporters of all political parties. Take a look at the comment pages of any UK newspaper. Significantly, though, the same term ‘cybernat’ – coined, presumably, around 1993 by some old guy confused by the ‘thae computers’ – is deployed more often in reference to the SNP’s enthusiasm for social media.
The SNP site is bright and cheery, pretty much up to date and contains multiple references to local issues. The bully pulpit. It’s mainly hilarious, if we’re being honest. Today’s hysterical “unmasking” of “cybernats” (in fact a collection of perfectly normal and varied people, using the internet under their real names and mainly with photographs of themselves) by the Scottish Daily Mail as part of its ongoing “Cybernat Watch” smear campaign is like a one-stop beginner’s guide to the paper’s lurid sub-tabloid modus operandi. But much as we chuckle, there are deeply sinister undercurrents to the article. We’ve attached the entire text of the piece in its full deranged glory below as an appendix. But it’s worth pulling out a few highlights. “HUNCHED in front of the flickering computer screen, Brendan Hynes is hard at work, despite the late hour. A lovely piece of pure fantasy to start us off. “But Hynes – and many like him – are turning Twitter and other online forums into ‘no-go zones’ for those who want to engage in a rational debate on the country’s future.”
This is a weird angle. Intriguing phrasing there. Ultimate Trolls. What is a Troll? In the classical sense it is the big bogie man from the frozen past of Norse mythology, a mythology we in Scotland also partly share thanks to the internationalist aspect of our mutual histories. In more modern mythologies is the version of the troll as portrayed in the recent Harry Potter films and books. This took the thought process a step further. Who stuffed the metaphorical wand up the nose of our latest itineration of a Troll, the Unionist? The version of troll now being referred to is described by the urban dictionary as “One who purposely and deliberately (that purpose usually being self-amusement) starts an argument in a manner which attacks others on a forum without in any way listening to the arguments proposed by his or her peers. On Sunday the 19th February 2012, there was a tweet at 12:16pm from one George Foulkes, Lord, currently resident at Westminster.
The essence of the message was simple – Tony Blair just decided to let the Scots “go for it”. Broadcast Yourself. @dhothersall: In defence of Lyall Duff, and other smears. Lyall Duff, the SNP candidate in North Lanarkshire whose ill-judged language and offensive comments on Facebook were "exposed" in the Daily Telegraph a couple of weeks ago, has apparently resigned from the SNP tonight, ending the party's disciplinary procedure against him. "Exposed" is of course an odd word for this. What the Telegraph actually did was trawl through his - and probably a lot of others' - social media history looking for things which could be used to embarrass him and his party, and then wait for the opportune moment to publicise them.
Doing so days after close of nominations for the upcoming election meant maximum damage because the SNP couldn't replace him on the ballot. Yes, some of what he's said in the past was thoughtless, and some of it was offensive. David Cameron, when being pursued about allegations of drug-taking in his youth, said "I think it's an important principle that politicians are entitled to a private past". A Cybernat Writes | Vote Yes for Scotland.
A new worrying tactic has emerged that threatens Scotland’s great debate. Friday, 09 March 2012 12:50 By G.A.Ponsonby “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it” ... unless you are Scottish and support independence it seems. It’s one of the defining aspects of our society, the freedom to express an opinion, to disagree, to criticise – in short, free speech is fundamental to who we are. However, going by some of the reactions to an article written by SNP MSP Joan McAlpine this week, this basic human right is under threat from irate Unionists. Journalist Ms McAlpine left the Scotsman last week and joined the Daily Record. But it wasn’t Ms McAlpine’s decision to ditch one paper for another that has caused a stushie. No sooner had the ink dried than came calls for her to apologise and stand down. Before you could utter the phrase “liar, liar pants on fire”, Ms McAlpine’s words had been twisted, bent, repackaged and re-written by Scotland’s ‘Honesty and Truth’ Commission – otherwise known as Labour, Tories and the Lib Dems.
Welcome to planet Cybernat where the air is toxic. Shakespeare, Broadstairs, warmish summers – I'm an Anglophile, it seems. Reading the comment threads that follow many pieces of journalism online, including mine, I think of two analogies. The first is where I've gone into an old-fashioned kind of pub and in conversation with a stranger raised a mild question such as, "Do you think he really was offside? " I leave after an orange juice and walk to the top of a hill and look back down at the pub, which is now emitting little puffs of smoke as it might in a strip cartoon, with "Biff! " and "Ouch! " and "Take that! " in speech bubbles that squeeze from under the door. Somehow, my one small remark has touched off a furious argument. Things have turned nasty, but now I'm far from the scene and as obscure to the row as the Schleswig-Holstein question was to all but the three men who understood it.
The second analogy is more disturbing. Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, previously George Robertson MP, has come new to the game. Robertson has some catching up to do. Alex Salmond Dictator-Comparison Bingo! Bitten by the Cybernat – Unionism awakens to the internet.