A LEADING member of the referendum No camp has accused Yes supporters in Nairn of being so “vitriolic” and intimidatory they prevented reasoned debate.
Better Together’s Labour MP Jim Murphy stopped off in Nairn and Inverness this week as part of his campaign to visit 100 towns in 100 days ahead of the referendum.
But he said a group of chanting Yes campaigners tried to intimidate him and drown out his hour-long speech at Nairn. He also faced vocal opposition in Inverness.
The East Renfrewshire MP said the response in Nairn was “unusual”.
“The Yes supporters kind of circled me,” he said. “I don’t know if they were trying to treat me like General Custer at the battle of Little Bighorn but I just stood my ground. I grew up in a housing scheme in Glasgow. There is no way I am going to be put off by 15 Yes voters. It made me even more determined to stand up and speak for the quiet majority.
“The Nairn visit was unusual. The Yes campaigners had been up all night, painting their placards. They turned up and they were loud and proud, which they are entitled to be, but they were so vitriolic it prevented passers-by from joining the meeting. It just looked like 15 people shouting at a man in the street, it looked like an argument rather than a debate.”
Nairn SNP councillor Colin Macaulay has insisted the Labour politician had encroached on the Yes supporters’ patch and accused him of “scare-mongering”.
He said: “He was encircled because he came over to our table, that’s the reality. And I suppose, as a Yes group, we did not want to make it easy for him.”
Councillor Macaulay said the group doing the encircling was 15-strong and made up mainly of disillusioned Labour and Green party supporters.
“There were only three or four SNP supporters,” he said. “I think we have all been disappointed that he came on his battle bus to do some scare-mongering in the town."
After his visit to Nairn, Mr Murphy stopped off in Inverness as part of his tour, where he was also met by a vocal crowd.
One onlooker, Better Together supporter Donald MacKenzie from Crown, said: “The separatists wanted to shout him down. They behaved in a very unpleasant manner and were a very poor advertisement for their cause.
“We need to find a way to live together after the referendum. The behaviour of the separatists does not make that easy.”