By a Newsnet reporter
A pro-Union blogger who regularly appears on BBC Scotland political programmes has caused anger after using a racist term in an online exchange.
Solicitor Ian Smart, who describes himself as a “Lefty lawyer and Scottish Labour Party hack”, claimed ‘Poles’ and ‘Pakis’ would suffer if Scotland became independent and that a century of Tory rule was preferable to independence.
Labour supporting Mr Smart, who is a former president of the Law Society of Scotland, caused outrage after he tweeted:
“Better 100 years of the Tories than the turn on the Poles and the Pakis that would follow independence failing to deliver.”
Challenged to explain his racist comment, Mr Smart implied that many Scots were currently anti-English and that independence would see the country turn on other minorities when they no longer had the English to blame.
He added: “That those unable any more to blame the English will need somebody else to blame. Seems obvious.”
Despite being asked to remove the offensive tweet, a defiant Mr Smart refused and, using a derogatory term, went on to compare supporters of independence with the Ku Klux Klan, tweeting:
“Lots of WE ARE NOT RACISTS tweets from the cybernats tonight. Also lots of WE ARE NOT RACISTS tweets from the KKK in Alabama. LoL”
The messages were condemned by others using the social media site and come at a time when both sides in the independence debate have issued calls for an end to online abuse and offensive messages.
Following the exchanges the solicitor posted an article on his blog in which he appeared to regret the use of the terms ‘Poles and Pakis’, but claimed the sentiments expressed were not meant to represent his own.
However the pro-Union blogger claimed the outrage that resulted from his use of the racist term was ‘hysteria’.
He wrote: “I should have put the words ‘Poles and Pakis’ in quotation marks for it is clearly a sentiment I was ascribing to others. I also accept that, for some people, even when put in the mouths of others the “P word” is never acceptable. But I did not for a moment expect the hysteria that has followed.”
However, Mr Smart repeated his earlier claims that Scots who had voted Yes would turn on other ethnic groups if things did not work out as expected. Citing Jews, Gypsies, Asians and Anglo-Irish as historical examples of victimisation he said backed his claims, he added:
“Throughout I have attempted to make the simple point that the part (and it is only a part) of the Nationalists support that currently blame the English for all our woes, would, inevitably, on finding that Independence is not a cure for all our ills, look round for somebody else to blame.”
Mr Smart also claimed Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon should shoulder part of the blame for what he described as “a small element of the SNP support, particularly drawn to the internet, who seem to me to winding themselves up in to a state of near hysteria about the Referendum.”
He added: “They are not being helped by remarks such as those made by Nicola Sturgeon that the alternative to a Yes vote would be ‘nothing’.”
Ms Sturgeon’s remarks were a reference to more powers currently being promised by Unionist parties as part of the devolution settlement if Scots reject independence. Independence supporters have suggested that a No vote will, like the seventies when Scots were promised something better after the failed 1979 vote on a Scottish Assembly, end with nothing being offered.
A recent poll conducted by Yougov has suggested that only 33 per cent of Scots believe Unionists will keep their word to grant more powers to the Scottish Parliament should Scots vote No in 2014.
The row over the racist tweet has led to independence supporting filmmaker Jack Foster creating a short satirical video lambasting the continual attempts by Unionists to demonise their independence opponents and the hypocrisy of denouncing as racist, people who challenged Mr Smart’s tweets.