POLITICS: Yes campaign leaders must act over this toxic culture

BBC reporter Sarah Smith and JIm Sillars – “reaction to that truth was more bile.”

WHEN, in a letter to the Glasgow Herald, Sarah Smith recorded the bile and hatred directed at her she was telling the truth.

According to Jim Sillars, husband of the late Margo Macdonald, the reaction to that truth was more bile.

He wrote: “Both episodes should be seen by those, like me, who wish Scots to vote in a solid majority for independence, as a cause for serious reflection.

“To win we have to persuade unionists to change their minds. Leaving aside the repugnant practice of abuse, do those who engage in it believe it is possible to convert someone by shouting “traitor” and much worse at them?

“Perhaps we can start on a new path of civilised dialogue by acknowledging that, while we think differently on the constitution, adherence to the Union is a legitimate position, which is not surprising considering the 315 years of its existence.

“The present toxicity in our body politic requires the leadership of the independence movement to lead us away from it, because of its potential malignant effect upon the character of the future Scotland we hope to win.

“Getting a majority is vital for that objective, but if that independent Scotland is to progress and flourish, all of its people, including those who lost the argument, have to be willing to trust, cooperate and work together. Success will not come if a significant minority feel aggrieved at being singled out as “treasonous” and “scum”.

“Robust and biting debate is inevitable on such a momentous issue of Scotland in or out of the Union. But if an independent Scotland is to be successful, it will need a high level of harmony and agreement among its people; and for that we need to recognise red lines that should never be crossed.

“Disrespect for the views of others, dressed in bile and hatred, is corrosive of democratic life, and will be a malignant legacy in the Scotland we want.

“It is time for some to look beyond the present and contemplate the future, and realise that they must now desist from their present practices.”

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