Alert readers may recall an incident last year in which the Scottish media got itself very worked up about some independence supporters threatening to boycott holiday company Barrhead Travel after its owner sent a barking-mad letter to staff about how the company would go out of business if Scotland voted Yes.
The Telegraph, Express, Times, Daily Mail and Scotsman were among those covering the story at length – with the latter going so far as an extraordinary comparison to the Nazi atrocity of Kristallnacht – and someone called Jim Murphy opined that it was “a new low” and “the worst type of negative politics”, despite the SNP having discouraged and disassociated itself from any boycott.
So we’re sure that you won’t be able to move later today and tomorrow for newspaper articles about something similar, but significantly worse, that happened this weekend.
A group of some of the slower-witted Unionist trolls on social media took offence to a Facebook post by Alison Rollo, a sculptor who also owns (with her daughter and husband) a popular and well-reviewed wine bar/restaurant in Stockbridge in Edinburgh.
The comment itself was wholly innocuous, noting the widely-observed statistical fact that opposition to independence is heavily skewed towards older age groups and projecting that the arithmetic of birth and death rates suggested there could be a majority for a Yes vote in Scotland in as little as four years.
Showing the grasp of English comprehension that followers of Scottish politics will have come to expect, the Unionists immediately concluded that this was tantamount to a call for the murder of anyone of pensionable age, and decided to take action.
Shortly afterwards, a series of reviews appeared on the restaurant’s TripAdvisor page.
The “reviews” made various defamatory allegations about the restaurant’s food, service and hygiene. Carelessly, one “reviewer” complained about finding a hair in his soup – a tactical error as Rollo has never sold soup, a fact swiftly pointed out in a reply by the Rollo account on the site.
Numerous readers have alerted TripAdvisor to the malicious reviews, all posted on Sunday and Monday, but at the time of writing they’re still in place – we took the above screenshot just a few minutes ago, around 11am on Wednesday.
Having been discovered, most of the Unionist trolls are unsurprisingly unrepentant:
Although a few of the more cowardly ones have deleted their tweets:
(Readers may or may not be astounded to learn that almost every participant in the hate campaign shares a fondness for a particular recently-formed football club.)
A hasty defence has been mounted, claiming hypocrisy/whataboutery on the grounds of calls for boycotts of No-backing businesses by independence supporters:
But there is of course a very big difference between choosing not to employ the services of a company because one dislikes the political affiliations/activities of its owners, and posting defamatory untruths about it in an attempt to persuade other customers to avoid it. Choosing to boycott something is perfectly legal – nobody can be compelled to use a particular company or service. Sabotaging someone’s business with lies is not.
So given that what’s happening to Rollo is an actual crime, while deciding to book your holidays with someone other than Barrhead Travel is not, we’re sure Scotland’s fair and balanced press will be all over this story any minute now. All the same, in the interests of health and safety, we don’t recommend that readers hold their breath.
EDIT 11.54am: within half an hour of this article’s publication, TripAdvisor finally pulled the malicious reviews, which had remained in place for three days.