"I've often thought the SNP leadership actually would rather be without a movement. Of course they like the membership fees and having somebody who will deliver their leaflets, but they'd rather people didn't speak or act in public if they're not paid by the party to do so."
Those who were quoted on-the-record by Mr Mackay were careful in how they chose their words (although I did roll my eyes to the heavens at Alyn Smith's conspiracy theory stuff about "false flag" Yes accounts, which if taken too far could easily lead us down a Leask-style rabbit hole where we'd all start accusing each other of being Russian agents). But there were a couple of rather more provocative comments which, unsurprisingly, no-one was brave enough to put their name to. For example:
"Much of this [Cybernat trolling] is about who can monetise the Yes movement. It’s about who is getting the most clicks, donations and subscriptions."
I have a shrewd idea about which SNP parliamentarian may have said that, although I won't name any names in case I'm wide of the mark. But what I would say is that the individual in question almost certainly draws a salary well in excess of the income that anyone could realistically draw from a DIY fundraiser, so I'd suggest he or she ought to be rather more circumspect about accusing others of "monetising the Yes movement". Just like anyone else making a living (either in whole or in part) out of their support for independence, he or she can only really justify that in the long run by producing results.
I don't particularly feel my ears burning at the mention of monetisation, because although I'm one of the relatively small number of Yes people who have fundraised over the years, I don't think anyone could (credibly) accuse me of using abusive tactics to advertise this blog. But then again, if it's not someone like me, who are these mysterious people that are supposedly using abuse to generate an income? Presumably the dig is partly directed at Stuart Campbell, simply because he's a bit sweary sometimes, but who else is there? Let's be honest here: being a troll on social media is not a particularly effective money-making strategy. If you look at the genuine trolls and ask yourself how much they're making out of it, the answer is pretty obvious: absolutely nothing.
I suspect the parliamentarian who made the accusation knows full well that there is no link between "Cybernat abuse" and "monetisation". So why knowingly say something that isn't true? I would guess it goes back to Thomas' insight: this is an attempt to pathologise any 'non-authorised' Yes activity. It doesn't really matter whether you're coaxed into believing that 'unofficial' initiatives are motivated by money, or by support for Vladimir Putin. Just so long as you end up believing they're all thoroughly illegitimate, that'll do fine.
UPDATE: I've seen one or two people claim that the widespread anger about Neil Mackay's article is misplaced because the criticisms within it are only directed at a tiny minority of the Yes movement. But that excuse is deeply disingenuous. Look at this quote from Stewart McDonald MP, for instance...
"just f**king chill out a bit, and you can quote me directly on that ... some of the anger is over the most absurd things...on the face of it you might feel that it’s a bit annoying that X wasn’t top of Reporting Scotland or this headline was particularly unfortunate – fine we all get p****d off with something like that but just chill out a bit and think about things in the grand scheme of things. I think sometimes they wind themselves up so much."
If Stewart thinks that people getting annoyed about the running order on Reporting Scotland is somehow part of a Cybernat online abuse problem, then he's the one that is losing the plot. Stewart has a long-standing personal view that there's no great problem with the mainstream media, and he's perfectly entitled to that view, but I'm afraid that if his call for respectful debate is to have any meaning, that principle also has to apply within the Yes movement. He can't just go around pathologising legitimate views that he happens to personally disagree with. Forcefully making the point that the BBC buried their coverage of the Westminster power-grab last year does not make you a Cybernat troll.
Remember when Stewart complained to the Speaker about Dennis Skinner being appallingly rude to him? I wonder how he'd have reacted if others in the Yes movement, instead of showing solidarity, had told him to "stop winding himself up so much" and to "f***ing chill out a bit" and to "think about things in the grand scheme of things"? I suspect he might have had something to say about that.
UPDATE II: I've just caught up with the fact that Mhairi Hunter, the Glasgow councillor, expressed her sympathy with the article's agenda by saying "some Yessers are trash and we do need to disassociate ourselves from them because they are trash". It goes without saying that this is appalling, dehumanising language that wouldn't be appropriate from anyone, let alone from an elected councillor. It never ceases to amaze me how often the people who set themselves up as the civility police end up embodying the very thing they demonise others for. Several hours after grudgingly accepting that she shouldn't have used the word "trash", Ms Hunter still hasn't deleted her comment. I trust that those who have been most vociferous about online abuse will call her out for it, rather than nod along with it.