All through this referendum campaign, there have been two battles: one has been in the open. This has generally been courteous and respectful. But the other battle has been hidden under the cloak of internet anonymity – and it has been vile, nasty and bigoted.
Occasionally, these campaigns have collided and when this has happened, it has all got very messy indeed. That is exactly what happened today.
Today’s tale of spin doctors, Labour activists and cyberbullying appears to be a bit of a beltway story but bear with me, it is really very important and tells us a lot about where the whole campaign is going.
First, we have to scroll back just a little way, back to Monday morning in Glasgow and Better Together’s 100-days-to-go launch.
Unionist strategists decided they would have a better chance of winning over voters if they used ‘ordinary people’ to front their campaign launch, not politicians. So, on Monday, at the Glasgow rally, we heard from mothers and students and pensioners and nurses and steelworkers, all of whom were campaigning to save the Union.
Compering the event was a young mother from Clydebank, Clare Lally (below) who described herself as an ‘ordinary mum’. Lally is the mother of two children, one of whom has severe health problems.
In what was one of the most effective and moving interventions of the entire campaign, Lally said she would work night and day to protect the NHS that had saved her daughter’s life – and that meant keeping it as part of the UK.
Now, Lally is a mum from Clydebank but she is also a Labour Party activist – and quite a senior one at that. So, furious Nationalists set out to undermine her case. The First Minister’s spokesman,
Campbell Gunn, emailed the Telegraph to point out that Lally was not an ‘ordinary mum’. Gunn