Unionists need to get tough with the trolls - it's not ok to abuse anyone who doesn't share their UK views

IT WAS a happy, innocent picture.

Three kids, in blue T-shirts each emblazoned with a single letter that spelled out the word YES.

I knew their parents and granny, whose idea it was to make the T-shirts two years ago.

The mums jokingly called them yeslings – they were very cute. So when invited into a photograph with them at the weekend, I didn’t think twice. Selfies and politics go together like tea and toast these days.

I posted the picture on the social networking site Twitter. Then came the outpouring of bile.

“This is like Hitler Youth” screamed trolls, working themselves into a frenzy of hate. My timeline was sullied with image after image of Nazis and swastikas. “Where is your brown shirt?” said one.

The individuals behind these attacks are vehement supporters of the British state – albeit in extremis.

They tend to be right-wing, strongly pro-Brexit and anti-­immigrant. I notice that these people made similar Hitler Youth slurs on the Jeremy Corbyn-supporting Momentum movement when they launched a family wing last week.

But this happens in all political parties – the Tories had ­schoolchildren on their conference platform last year.

Labour, Lib Dem or Tory ­politicians talk about delivering ­leaflets as children – for some ­families, politics is part of the DNA.

The granny of the Yes children in my picture was herself taken out to campaign for Labour as a child. She wants her own grandchildren to have a better future.

It’s OK not to share the vision of an independent Scotland. It’s not OK to abuse and debase those who do.

Read the rest of my column here.

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