I realise there's a slight danger of turning this blog into one long transcription of my exchanges on Twitter, and I'll try not to make too much of a habit of it, but as so many of us have had encounters with Duncan Hothersall over the years, I thought you might appreciate this one. For the uninitiated, Duncan was for quite some time practically the one-man online presence of Scottish Labour. Yes, even in the days when Labour Hame was but a twinkle in its Admin's eye, there was Duncan, fighting the good (or goodish) fight on Twitter. More recently, he's taken to sternly shaking his head at the largely mythical "Cybernat hordes", more in sorrow than in anger, and exhorting them to at least aspire to his own standards of decency. Rather like Matt Smith begging the humans not to harm the Silurian hostage, Duncan just yearns with all his heart for his hot-headed, misguided political opponents to be "better than this" - for the sake of their own souls as much as anything.
In the unlikely event that anyone took the nurturing tone of his 'advice' at face value, I fear that what you're about to read might be a bit like that moment when you first discovered there isn't a Santa Claus.
Duncan Hothersall : How is UKgov involved? Salmond wants to debate Cameron to make it look like they are the enemy.
Me : Salmond v Cameron is the choice of Prime Ministers in #indyref
Duncan Hothersall : Which is a bollocks argument and you know it.
Me : I knew you'd like it, because it has the virtue of being self-evidently true.
Duncan Hothersall : It's the ultimate expression of the false idea that #indyref is an election substitute. Current leaders irrelevant.
Me : Like Tony Blair was "irrelevant" in 2005 because he saw out less than half a term? Same principle.
Duncan Hothersall : UK elections don't pick Prime Ministers they chose governing parties. #indyref is nothing to do with either.
Me : So why do we have "Prime Ministerial (sic) Debates" in UK elections?
Duncan Hothersall : I think I have a new favourite idiotic #yesscot argument: Salmond should debate Cameron because #indyref is a choice between them as PMs.
Me : Glad you like it, but do you actually have an answer to the Prime Ministerial Debate point?
Duncan Hothersall : We had them precisely once. Are you even going to pretend you don't understand our democracy to score points? Sad.
Me : Does that mean you oppose them, Duncan? This is important.
Duncan Hothersall : Yes. Our democracy works on the basis of law, not TV programmes, and you know that fine well.
Me : So you do oppose such debates? Fair enough. On that issue and Trident, I just wish you had more sway with your own party.
Duncan Hothersall : Do you really think #indyref is a choice between Salmond and Cameron as PM? How about we clear that up first.
Me : I thought we just had cleared it up, but evidently I've missed something. Answer to your question - obviously.
Duncan Hothersall : Then you're an idiot.
Me : Ah, the famed positivity and civility of the No campaign on social media!
Duncan Hothersall : I'm being neither negative nor uncivil. Your stated position is idiocy. It's stupid.
Me : "You're an idiot." That's a quote. Bit of a stretch to say that's "neither negative nor uncivil".
Duncan Hothersall : It's an observation. Now go and play with something sharp.
Me : Hmmm. While I do that, Duncan, why don't you quietly reflect on whether you practise what you preach on standards of debate.
Duncan Hothersall : Let me just file that advice for safekeeping. It's a gem.
Me : Feel free. I'll certainly be filing the "idiot" and "play with something sharp" comments for when you next mention Cybernats.