I’ll return shortly to the comments on my piece about Why I’m going to vote No but I wanted briefly to go from one extreme (possibly) to another (also possibly).
There’s been some publicity about Labour MP Jim Murphy’s 100 stops tour of Scotland to conduct old-fashioned street meetings on his upturned Irn Bru boxes.
Nigglers at the detail of the independence referendum campaign like me will have noticed Murphy’s just suspended his tour because the meetings were getting rowdy.
Depending on your point of view it was the rough and tumble he should expect from speaking in public like this or shameful nationalist attempts to suppress free speech. On a scale of 1 – 10 (1 = legitimate rough and tumble, 10 = suppression of free speech) I’d put his treatment at about 8-9. But then I would, wouldn’t I?
The cause-celebre of the suspension must be known to everyone interested in the referendum by now. Murphy was egged, a new verb for me to be filed along with ‘to medal.’
That’s a bit of a long intro to the point of this post, which is not the ‘egging’ itself but how lies are perpetrated and can become believed as fact. Look at this image.
I saw it on Twitter earlier today. My eye fell on the caption to the picture on the left
80-year old Edinburgh pensioner thrown to ground by a NO campaigner whilst handing out Yes leaflets … NO MENTION IN NATIONAL PRESS AT ALL.
That’s appalling. It’s the No campaign all over – violent, intolerant, hypocritical… add your own outraged adjectives. And it’s the mainstream media too, ignoring the misdeeds of the nasty Nos.
Hang on, there’s something not quite right there.
I was intrigued at the ‘no mention in national press at all.’ So I googled ‘Edinburgh pensioner Yes broken wrist’ and lo and behold, there he was, same photo, in the Edinburgh Evening News. You can read it for yourself but my distillation of the facts is
- The assault did happen but it was a year ago in early-September 2013
- The woman who assaulted him ran at him from the direction of a kilt shop, said nothing and then ran away
- According to the pensioner, ‘As I lay on the ground I looked up at her and she had a look on her face like, “My God . . . what have I done?”’
An ugly enough, and unforgivable, assault on an elderly man. No excuse.
But perpetrated by a ‘No campaigner’? No evidence of that at all. And when I asked the poster of the image for evidence, he claimed to me that she was a ‘No voter.’ But again, no evidence.
Note also the acknowledgement by the unfortunate victim that the woman seemed surprised that she had actually knocked him over. So an assault, but perhaps not intended to fell him to the ground.
No, all you can say about her was that she was an angry, maybe unbalanced and obnoxious individual who shouldn’t have done what she did.
I could find nothing on the web about any subsequent investigation, but I hope the police found and charged her. She certainly wasn’t a campaigner and who knows whether she’d even vote.
And not in the national press? Well, sadly, not dissimilar assaults happen all over the UK all the time. It’s hardly the stuff of major national news.
I’ll say nothing of the characterisation of Murphy in the other photo but these sorts of falsehoods are the way myths are created and eventually become accepted as truth by those who want to believe them.