But both men have one thing in common: They have called in police
after being threatened for their views.
The sinister side of the debate on Scotland's Sept. 18 referendum is
coming to the fore as opinion polls narrow on the outcome. The
"Better Together" campaign is particularly keen to draw attention to
this: Its leader has likened independence champion Alex Salmond to
Kim Jong-il, the North Korean autocrat, blaming Salmond for a
"culture of intimidation" in Scotland.
"I did hope the campaign would not get hotheaded and beastly," said
83-year-old Arthur, in front of an open fire in the sitting room of
his country estate home, framed photographs of the royal family on
the windowsill. "But it has. But I won't stop."
Nationalists argue that oil-rich Scotland should be in charge of its
own decisions and not have policies it opposes imposed by
politicians in London. The rest of the United Kingdom says the union
of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is strongest and
On average, the latest polls show support for independence - the
"Yes" vote - has risen to about 35 percent from 30 percent six
months ago, while opposition has dropped to 46 percent from 50
percent and a significant number of voters remain undecided.
But as the poll nears, voters say the atmosphere is making it harder
to discuss the issues.
Hostilities have intensified online, some cinemas have pulled
campaign ads after viewers complained, posters are being defaced,
neighbors have engaged in graffiti wars and the row has resulted in
at least one pub brawl.
Pro-unionists have said a Yes vote would be "cataclysmic", feeding
the "forces of darkness" at a time when stability is needed.
Independence campaigners accuse rivals of "the most miserable,
negative, depressing and thoroughly boring campaign in modern
Some verbal attacks have been so vitriolic that the Church of
Scotland has intervened to call for calm. Queen Elizabeth also
supported church efforts to heal rifts, whatever the outcome.
"I have had the odd abuse but ... they are not going to stop me from
speaking and they know it, so what they go after is the softer
targets," politician Alistair Darling, head of the Better Together
campaign, told Reuters recently. “It really reflects very badly on
"SHED BLOOD TOGETHER"
Arthur, in a military red-and-green tie and brass-buttoned blazer,
said he decided to join the Better Together campaign late last year
when he was talking to his wife about how opinion polls were
The son of Scottish parents, he was educated at Eton, the English
school of the elite, then at the military academy at Sandhurst
before embarking on a career of nearly 40 years that took him to
Ireland, Libya and Germany. After retiring in 1988, he was asked to
become Lord Lieutenant of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbrightshire, a
role that involves representing Queen Elizabeth in his county.
"It means a lot to me that Scots, English, Irish and Welsh all shed
their blood together," he said. "If that doesn't bind the
constituent parts of the UK together, nothing will."
He and his wife went through their address books and wrote to
everyone they knew. Then they plowed through 2,500 pages of "Who's
Who", a guide to British society, to find anyone with a military or
Scottish connection, and wrote to them.
“There is no issue today more important for us all ... let’s be
passionate about this and hold to our great union,” read the
one-page letter on notepaper headed with the Arthurs' address.
The letter was posted online, the contact details visible. Arthur
received a barrage of abuse. As a result, he said he had started to
bolt the gate on his sprawling coastal estate and removed the name
sign from the end of his drive.
Police said this was just a cautionary measure and there were no
reports of violence.
But Arthur will not give in.
"This is pure patriotism to try to save the UK unharmed and
something well above politics," he said. "This will only get more
passionate as the two sides draw closer together."
[to top of second column]
"NOT HAPPY SMILEY"
In the genteel English city of Bath, with its elegant Georgian
architecture, pro-independence campaigner Campbell - who was born in
Scotland but has lived in England for 20 years -runs a popular blog
and Twitter account which he uses to advance the nationalist
"Online it is not the happy, smiley campaign," said the computer
game journalist. "But we are aiming at a different market."
Originally from near Edinburgh, he has abandoned his work to focus
on the debate. He calls himself Reverend - the prefix used by clergy
- but declined to say how he came to it.
The movement he represents is known as the cybernats for the
nationalist campaign they conduct online. His blog, Wings Over
Scotland, regularly takes issue with claims in campaign materials
produced by pro-unionists.
"We want to highlight the lies being told, so it is more of a
negative campaign, although we don't make any personal attacks on
people," said Campbell. "That would not help us at all."
In February, singer David Bowie was subjected to a volley of abuse
on Twitter after he urged Scotland to "stay with us", and businesses
have suffered the same fate after raising the potential risks of
A 25-year-old man is due to go on trial in August accused of posting
a message on Twitter threatening to assassinate Salmond, the leader
of the Scottish National Party that runs Scotland’s devolved
Campbell, dressed all in black with a thick, black beard, said he
regularly receives abuse himself - extreme elements in both camps
engage in "shouting on the Internet" that can be ignored. But in
March, the threats reached such a level that he had to call in the
police. He declined to give details.
A spokesman from Bath police said an investigation into malicious
communications was ongoing.
In the village of Pitcairngreen in Perthshire, resident Thomas
Huxley said he had put up a noticeboard for the purpose of general
information. The next day he found it covered in “Yes” campaign
notices. He responded by putting "No" signs up, arguing there should
Campaigners in Edinburgh go further. On one bridge, a poster slogan
“Vote Yes to Independence” is altered to “Independence is the
By and large, the debate has not been violent, although First
Minister Salmond, campaigning for independence, spoke too soon when
he said "not a punch has been thrown."Scottish police say they are
investigating an assault on a nationalist member of the Scottish
parliament in a pub in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in April. David Torrance was
reportedly grabbed by the throat and pinned to the bar by a
pro-union campaigner who had wanted to talk about the referendum.
Some business leaders say that as the debate has become more heated,
people are not voicing opinions at business or social events, wary
of potential clashes.
"In coming months it will only get more divisive," said Owen Kelly,
chief executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise, which represents
the financial services industry in Scotland.
"I think there will need to be some serious political leadership in
order to bring people together, particularly if there is a close
vote. They need to ensure these divisions do not endure."
(Additional reporting by Alistair Smout; Edited by Sara Ledwith)
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