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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
A Labour councillor has caused anger after appearing to mock local people angered at the news the council were censoring the official Yes campaign in local schools despite allowing pupils to view the pro-Union rival site.

Councillor Stephen McCabe has come under fire after he treated the situation as a joke and suggested it would not be resolved until after the independence referendum.

The episode began when Caitlin Brannigan, a student at a local School, tweeted a picture showing that Yes Scotland's site was blocked under content filtering from the Schools internal network but no such block was in place for Better Together.

On hearing this another tweeter Scott Gillan decided to raise the issue with the local councillor.  He tweeted: "How long will it take to resolve Yes Scotland page being blocked in our schools clr ?"

Inverclyde council leader Stephen McCabe responded by tweeting "7 months I'm told Lol".  In a later tweet Mr McCabe described people who had challenged him, "conspiracy theorists".

However, the Labour councillor's response has caused outrage amongst users of social media who have accused the official of treating the matter as a joke and of condoning censorship.

The story has provoked controversy in Inverclyde with the local newspaper, the Greenock Telegraph reporting that the Labour councillor is at the centre of a "political storm".

Speaking to the newspaper, Shona McQuarrie - who leads the Yes Inverclyde campaign - said: "This is inexcusable.  Mr McCabe was asked a perfectly legitimate question and he chose to make a joke of a very serious matter.

"There’s been no hint of an apology for his flippancy, or a proper explanation as to what has actually been going on here.  It would be different if both websites were blocked.

"We need to know why the Yes Scotland site was inaccessible, why it was so, and for how long."

Mrs McQuarrie added: "This is a huge issue.  Where is the consideration for what parents think?

"Pupils are not learning anything about the referendum in local schools if they are only being provided with one side of the debate.

"It is profoundly undemocratic and I have been told that loads of parents have been complaining."

Newsnet Scotland spoke to one parent whose children attend local schools in the area.

She said: "I wasn’t aware of this until I read the 'Tully' [Greenock Telegraph].  It isn’t fair to ban one side but let pupils read the other one.  They should either ban both websites or allow both websites."

On the flippant response of the council leader, she said: "He should just fix it and say sorry."

A spokesman for the local authority told the Greenock Telegraph: "Our IT service have sorted out the small glitch which appears to have caused this.

"There is absolutely no question of any site being deliberately blocked."

The spokesman added: "The first line of the council’s content filtering system is based on website categories. The Yes Scotland website was categorised under ‘society and culture’, which is blocked by default for pupils in schools.

"No-one at the council or school was involved in deciding the category of the website, which meant that it was not accessible.

"As soon as we were alerted to this situation yesterday morning the site was unblocked by applying more detailed filtering rules, to ensure it could be accessed."

However the issue is unlikely to die down with some questioning why the pro-independence site had been placed in a category that was blocked.

In another twist, the Labour councillor has now backtracked on an earlier announcement he would quit twitter over the issue.

Last night McCabe told users of the social media platform, "I regret to announce the immediate closure of my account. I can no longer take the constant abuse from Cybernats and fellow travellers."

However within hours, the Labour councillor had reactivated his account and tweeted: "Following an overnight barrage from the Cybernats (when do these people sleep?) I've decided to resume tweeting with immediate effect..."

The Labour councillor also launched an attack on the local newspaper, complaining that he hadn't been contacted prior to their article being published: "@greenocktele A manufactured "political storm" @hossack12345 Didn't someone think to call me?"

Comments  

 
# Leader of the Pack 2014-02-22 14:43
When are people in this country going to learn to NOT vote in these inherently corrupt labour councillors MSPs and MPs?
How much more factual evidence do people need to see that Labour have no problems employing the morally corrupt the morally deficient and the out and out criminal?
Don't tell me this was coincidental when he decided to act flippant instead of being genuinely surprised.
 
 
# chicmac 2014-02-22 14:47
"The Labour councillor also launched an attack on the local newspaper, complaining that he hadn't been contacted prior to their article being published: "@greenocktele A manufactured "political storm" @hossack12345 Didn't someone think to call me?"

Maybe they applied his 'let me sleep' filter?
 
 
# Leader of the Pack 2014-02-22 15:06
"Inverclyde council leader Stephen McCabe responded by tweeting "7 months I'm told Lol"."

Looks to me like he had a ready answer to a problem he was supposed to have been unaware of.
His flippant smart arse tweet exposed the fact that he was already aware of the problem. Like I said it was no coincidence and this git certainly looks guilty of deliberately employing censorship. A full committee investigation is warranted at the very least.
 
 
# gayle 2014-02-22 15:24
"The first line of the council’s content filtering system is based on website categories. The Yes Scotland website was categorised under ‘society and culture’, which is blocked by default for pupils in schools."

Right, so this particular school's site has been fixed (recategorised) but what about the other schools across Scotland? Are they still categorising Yes Scotland as 'Society and culture' knowing that it is blocked?
 
 
# Leswil 2014-02-22 15:36
I think it is worse than it seems, in that, is it beyond imagination that Labour councils have been instructed to apply the "Willie Bain" principle across the board?

Labour run Councils are starting to cause all sort of trouble across the board.
 
 
# Will Mcewan 2014-02-22 15:39
It was reported on another site that the same situation was found to have happened at the school in Dunoon where there has been previous reports of staff influencing pupils
 
 
# willie boy 2014-02-22 15:48
It's not just Inverclyde Council who are censoring pro websites'

Iain MacWhirter and Newsnet Scotland have all previously been censored by Labor controlled West Dunbartonshire Council.

Glasgow City are also blocking sites and such behavior has the stench of fascism about it.

We tolerate this behavior at our peril.
 
 
# Indy_Scot 2014-02-22 16:01
As much as I find this story very disturbing from the point of view that Labour councils are using their position of power to interfere with the referendum debate, I also find it remarkable that people in positions of responsible can treat their constituent with such disdain and contempt.

Clearly Mr McCabe is denying a decent person the chance of being a proper councillor.
 
 
# Grahame 2014-02-22 16:22
from experience in Edinburgh it's blooming difficult for YES to get parity over the No campaign with access to Schools, we are making inroads, but it seems to be we clear one hurdle before we find another one.

we are looking at other ways of promoting the YES Message - one such way is with a fleet of Advert Trailers at prominent locations within the Edinburgh Area (find out more on our crowdfunding site igg.me/.../2793704)
 
 
# martinkeat 2014-02-22 16:29
The original story was broken on the Yes International site and boy did we get both barrels from the man in question.

yes2014.net/.../...

Due to the fact that he has shown absolutely no remorse for several other comments and that he seems to be totally flipant about the whole thing, we have referred the matter along with 4 other people who witnessed it to the Ethics Commission.
 
 
# hetty 2014-02-22 20:40
[quote name="martinkeat"]The original story was broken on the Yes International site and boy did we get both barrels from the man in question.

yes2014.net/.../...

Due to the fact that he has shown absolutely no remorse for several other comments and that he seems to be totally flipant about the whole thing, we have referred the matter along with 4 other people who witnessed it to the Ethics Commission.
 
 
# Neimo Fakir 2014-02-22 16:40
First time poster. I've been managing content proxies for a number of years and it looks like in this case, the Education dept. use Cisco for their URL filtering software. They have most likely just added the Yes site to their local whitelist to get round this category issue.

The different filtering vendors are mostly US-centric and categorisation is initially automated and only corrected by a human when someone complains to the vendor. This is simply because of the huge number of websites that their database has to record.

It's not impossible and quite probable that that both the "Yes Scotland" and the "Yir doomed!" websites triggered on different keywords so went into different categories. Filtering is a long way from censorship and knee-jerk reactions and some of the language used in this article doesn't help.
 
 
# FREEDOM1 2014-02-22 16:48
I saw the other day on twitter that a school pupil was allowed to design a poster for the Commonwealth Games but her teacher said NO Saltires Allowed?
 
 
# martinkeat 2014-02-22 16:55
As if previous comments werent bad enough now he responds to a message saying he has been reported to the ethics committee with "LOL"

yes2014.net/.../...
 
 
# Will Mcewan 2014-02-22 21:01
Neimo Fakir

The language used on this article is about the crass and unacceptable reaction from Cllr McCabe and is entirely justified. His reactionwasn't "Oh, I'll sort that out" but to express no such intention and laugh at the complaint.
 
 
# Neimo Fakir 2014-02-23 07:52
No, the language used in the article implies that the Council were actively censoring the Yes website. I'm not going to condone McCabe's unprofessional responses or attitude but by immediately jumping to the worst case scenario we give him the ammo and the opportunity to label Yes supporters as "conspiracy theorists". And that makes us look like the boy who cried wolf when the real bias is trotted out in the MSM.
 
 
# cuckooshoe 2014-02-22 21:35
Sorry for being O/T

Disparaging article by The Independent on Eve Muirhead, who had the temerity to say..

independent.co.uk/.../...

“Whenever you’ve got Great Britain on your back, you’re super proud,” she said. “You’re equally as proud when you’ve got Scotland on your back.”
 
 
# Marian 2014-02-22 22:15
Funny how a "technical hitch" stopped the pro-independence website from being accessed and not the anti-independence website.

This sounds suspiciously like the "technical hitches" that regularly happen when pro-independence speakers are on BBC TV that renders their words inaudible whilst it never happens on the same programme to anti-independence speakers.

There is plenty evidence that Project Fear is trying to stifle debate because they know it would be fatal to their side in the campaign.

That is one of the reasons we get scare story after scare story to try and keep the YES campaign on the defensive all the time. The BBC is also giving far more airtime to the Project Fear scare stories than it has ever given to pro-independence stories as proved by Dr Robertsons's recent academic report.

This is called starving your opponent of the oxygen of publicity.
 
 
# tartantommy 2014-02-22 22:38
Another OG for the "Parcel o Rouges" at Better Together.With 207 days till we decided OUR SCOTLAND'S FUTURE.How many more own goals will BT give?

The thing is this sort of thing going on in other Local Authority's?

Did get a tweet from Inverclyde Council saying it was a GLITCH
 

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