Councillor makes impassioned plea for end to ‘gutter politics’

Labour councillor Sean Morton has called on pro-independence campaigners and in particular Moray’s SNP MP Angus Robertson to halt the “destructive gutter politics” that have surrounded a five-word social media message posted by his mother at the weekend.

Councillor Morton has given insideMoray exclusive permission to publish a personal statement he has issued today in the wake of online attacks against his mother, Louise Morton, who holds an honorary position as the vice chair of the Scottish Labour Party in Moray.

The Moray councillor issued the statement in the wake of further social media messages from his SNP opponent for the Moray seat in the UK General Election next year, Angus Robertson MP.

After reading social media comments from Mr Robertson this morning that continued to fan the flames over the row, Councillor Morton said: “Anyone who knows my mother knows that she is not the monster they are trying to make her out to be. She is a good woman who loves her family and tries to do her best for the people around her.

“Many of you will read today’s P&J and be astonished to find an article there about my Mum. Yesterday, I was called by a London journalist for the P&J about a tweet my Mum sent last week. Angus Robertson, our Westminster MP, had been attacking her relentlessly for it, claiming that she called Yes voters fascists.

“She did not. She had been accused of being in the Orange Order and referred to stories about fascists that were reported to have been at Yes rallies.

“In order to distract from all the media attention around Angus’s silencing of Scottish businesses in the referendum debate, he called his London press contacts days after first seeing the tweet to get them to focus on my Mum instead.

“She is a youth worker and over the years she has helped dozens of families through her work. She got into that line of work having put herself through college late in life, after raising all three of her sons single-handedly.

“She is one of the most tolerant and open-minded people I have ever met – and I’m sure that local SNP councillors who have met her would agree.

“Her adult life has been one of constant struggle, struggling to make ends meet and to raise her children single-handedly. Looking back I know that she must have gone hungry many nights, or eaten only the scraps off our plates – only after telling us to clean them properly. Her life must have been miserable. She endured years of depression and all of the taunts that sadly still accompany it – but she survived.

“As a boy it was her who fought off my bullies – those kids and adults who sniggered at me because I didn’t like to play the same games all the other boys liked to play – preferring to sing and dance with the girls instead. It broke her heart to watch it but she stood up and she survived.

“It was her who sat and held my hand as I sobbed telling her at the age of 15 I was gay and her that – behind my back – made sure everyone else around me accepted me too. At university I couldn’t share any heartbreaking stories about coming out to my family with other LGBT people – because she hugged me closer instead of shunning me. Because of her, I survived.

“She nursed my youngest brother as a sick baby with all sorts of problems, spending weeks in hospitals and years administering a concoction of meds. She fought hard to help my other brother battle difficulties at school and later rescued him from a life of drugs. When he died as a result of medical negligence in June 2009 – she showed her ability to both never forget my brother, to continue to love and to survive.

“The portrait they have painted of my mother – taking three words she wrote online completely out of context and then demonising her – is simply not one I recognise. She did not deserve this.

“I know that if I was to ask anyone in politics they would tell me not to speak up, to keep my head down. They would tell me not to defend my mother because it wouldn’t make sense politically. Well, I don’t care. I wasn’t brought up to turn my back on the people I love.

“My Mum didn’t sign up to fight against Angus Robertson – I did. Angus has dedicated his life to nationalism. I want to dedicate mine to making sure people don’t have to struggle the way my Mum did.

“So let’s put an end to the point-scoring and this destructive gutter politics. And let’s keep our families out of it. Angus can make his case and I will make mine. I will do it with respect and civility. I hope he can do the same.”

Editor’s Comment

My personal political stance should not be in question – I am a firm believer in Scottish Independence and a member of the Scottish National Party.

However, when Scotland becomes independent – as I firmly hope and believe it will do – we will all need to work together and build the nation we all dream of belonging to.

So everyone involved in the Yes and No campaigns needs to take a long hard look at where they are headed between now and September 18, they need to stop and think before they use the immediate world of Social Media and above all they need to remember that nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes and say things in just a few words that perhaps we would like to take back almost immediately.

Politics is a dirty business – but why should it be such a destructive and hurtful one?

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