Editorial: Referendum in Moray reaches a frightening new low

Sunday Supplement

Our detailed look back on the stories that we have been talking about in Moray…..

Just a bit over two more weeks to go before people can begin to repair the damages caused by the most divisive and destructive political campaign in Scottish history.

Today insideMoray has reported claim and counter-claim over the damage of campaign banners and posters in Moray over recent weeks.

That has led to the Yes side taking the radical step of offering a £500 reward for information that leads to the conviction of those responsible. In itself, that is perhaps an understandable move by Yes Moray, as they point out the signs themselves have cost several hundred pounds to produce.

More seriously, they say, is that the signs are on private property and in some cases the property itself has been damaged.

What takes this particular offer out of the political arena and into a whole new and very sinister ball game is that the statement from Yes Moray lays the blame squarely on the shoulders of No activists.

That is very dangerous ground.

[box] “For Yes Moray to directly accuse representatives of their referendum opponents is, in my view, a grave mistake.” [/box] Vandalism is no stranger to Moray – it consistently appears very high on the list of crimes in our region. For Yes Moray to directly accuse representatives of their referendum opponents is, in my view, a grave mistake.

They have no way of knowing if that claim is true – or, indeed, if they have such information they should provide it to the police. So for Councillor Graham Leadbitter to say that “this is a frustrating and disappointing response from no activists” is in this Yes supporters’ mind an error.

I know Graham to be solid, dependable and one of the hardest workers for his constituents you would ever be able to find.

But he cannot make such statements in the context of possible legal action when it is just as likely the damage was caused by people with no interest in the referendum – but as usual causing damage for the sake of it and for the publicity it generates.

Yes Moray may well point to the recent attacks on Jim Murphy MP, highlighted by No campaigner and Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Sean Morton who told insideMoray: “I have watched in horror as the campaign has turned ugly.

“Only recently Jim Murphy MP had to suspend his 100 Towns in 100 Days Tour on police advice because of the level abuse from Yes campaigners. He was egged and called a traitor and a paedophile.”

There is, in my view, a very large difference here – the abuse Murphy received was televised and photographed with his abusers carrying Yes campaign placards and so, one has to surmise, were Yes campaigners.

Bottom line though – such things from both sides has only one effect – it turns the public away from the real issues facing our nation in this referendum. It might even force ‘like for like’ actions from rival factions – and that is a frightening scenario that we must not allow this over-heated debate to generate.

See also:

New referendum war as £500 reward is offered

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