16 December 2011

Bogus names on gay marriage petition?

A curious tale in the Scotsman this morning, with complaints that Scotland for Marriage's petition agin same-sex marriage (presently numbering some 9,000 signatures) lists a small number of "bogus" names, apparently including those of folk who actively support same-sex marriage.  Improbably enough, the tale seems to be largely predicated on the assumption that there is only one person in Scotland called Paul Gray, which doesn't strike me as immediately plausible.  As usual, however, the bigger titles miss the real story and the bigger scandal.  Happily, Ecclefechan Mackay of the Kinlochbervie Chronicle has applied himself more throughly to the petition, and has unearthed some truly scandalous revelations...

Bogus names on gay marriage petition?
by Ecclefechan Mackay (MA), Political Correspondent.

The names of "dozens" of C-list Scottish celebrities were "falsely added" to a controversial online petition against gay marriage, the Kinlochbervie Chronicle can confirm.  Wee Bessie McTavish, who once had a walk-on part in Take the High Road in the early 1990s and who hasn't stopped talking about it since, was "shocked" to discover her name on the petition while obsessively googling herself last night.  "The only explanation is that one of these people saw a rerun of my episode, and maliciously added my name to their so-called petition. I'm horrified. I mean, its not as if Bessie McTavish is a common name, is it?" Other public figures with half-remembered faces you can't quite place whose names appear on the petition include Wee Jimmy Krankie, Chief Inspector Taggart and that-other-skelf-skinny-guy-that-might-have-won-the-X-Factor-a-while-back.  

Further investigations conducted by the Chronicle have shockingly revealed that the entire cast of Scottish soap River City have also been listed as supporters of the marriage campaign, including the "Shieldinch Strangler", who terrorised the tight-knit Glasgow community throughout 2003.  It is now understood "at least half" of the names appearing on the Scotland for Marriage petition belong to “clichéd fictional characters and washed-up ex-celebrities reduced to humiliating Christmas panto appearances”, a spokesman for Strathclyde Police's Fraud Unit has confirmed.

However, a prominent fictional supporter of the Scotland for Marriage group has hit back, arguing that the views of fictional Scots on the SNP government's same-sex proposals ought to be treated "with the same respect and seriousness" afforded to the submissions of the rest of the population. Take the High Road's Mrs Mack is one of the campaign's most vocal supporters, organising a series of tea and tablet rallies against gay marriage in church halls across the country. The judgemental harridan and oppressive busybody told the Chronicle. "I was blunt with Gordon [Wilson]. The group should be called Save Scotland from Sodomy but nobody ever listens to me".  The fictional shrew admitted that she had signed the petition at least fifteen times herself, "to show just how much I and the whole community of Glendarroch support this admirable campaign".

Whig MSP for Kinlochbervie West, Hector McPollick, has written to the Scottish Government, urging Ministers not to take the views of faded pantomime stars into account. Wee Jimmy Krankie continues vigorously to deny having signed the petition. "Oh no I didn't!" the pint-sized schoolboy insisted at a press conference yesterday, adding that a complaint has been lodged with Christopher Biggins, who has been contracted to "track down and wreak terrible, intestine-tearing vengeance against any bastard who dares to use my name in vain. Fandabidosi." 

A spokesman for Scotland for Marriage suggested that supporters of gay marriage had placed the names on the site in an “underhand tactic” to make it appear that Scotland for Marriage was run by people with a taste for mediocre Scottish drama and excruciatingly unfunny transvestites.  He said: “This appears to be a malicious attempt to undermine the campaign. A police investigation would be welcome.”


  1. So I get the impression from your somewhat tongue-in-cheek post that you think this is a load of nonsense?

    I'm personally ambivalent to the issue but it does seem like mud slinging for spurious reasons.

  2. The issue with the petition isn't just that one person with a relatively common name was added without their knowledge.

    The real issue is that a large bloc, of at least 27 individuals, had their email addresses and names added from one IP address without their knowledge.

    If the S4M lot had any sense, they'd have introduced email verification or at least some form of restriction on the amount of times it can be signed from one computer.

    Their lack of oversight into the quality and validity of their petition calls it onto question. And on Labour's support - this is an issue the SNP support, not just standard partisan hectoring.

  3. Excellent stuff: i am reminded of the great Sir Harry Flashman -

    '…all the inflamed mob did was to send a monstrous petition across to the House of Commons. It had five million signatures, they said; I know it had four of mine, one in the name of Obadiah Snooks, and three others in the shape of Xs besides which I wrote, ‘John Morrison, Arthur Wellesley, Henry John Temple Palmerston, their marks’.'

  4. Every petition has its D Duck and its M Mouse. It would be disappointing for poor old Gordon if he couldn't have managed that.

    As William Smith said, multiple posts using every email known to the poster, and some made up, can easily be avoided if the originator of the petition has a bit of computer knowledge and blocks them.

    That does, however, prevent, for example, husband and wife (heterosexual ones, of course) signing on the same computer, or even from the same IP address.

  5. Does all this IP address verification stuff fall apart when you have a cheap & cheerful dynamic address?

    Anyway.....what about this below.......82% of respondants from a single IP address from behind a Council firewall?

    Incredibly, neither the Cooncil nor the Polis can figure out who perp is.


  6. To spare their blushes (and quite possibly their job) I shall omit the name of the student activist who posted on twitter the other day about their pride in spamming the petition with false names, perhaps resulting in the story you refer to...

  7. Clearly someone has put these names on for a joke but as William Smith said the people who set up the petition should have included an email verification which is standard practice. They should also have required a full postal address.

    That's not going to stop people putting on names fraudulently but it would make it a lot harder - in this case it would have meant setting up 27 false email addresses and coming up with 27 false addresses. Would have made it less of a jest, which I would guess is all it was, and more obviously a deliberate attempt at fraud.

  8. Would the person in question be Tom French himself?

  9. TheeForsakenOne,

    I just cross-post the articles from the Kinlochbervie Chronicle. However, from what Mr Mackay has written, it seems as if he is treating these allegations with the utmost seriousness. Indeed, it seems as if Wee Jimmy Krankie has been trying to take control of the news agenda to distance himself from these revelations, by saturating the airwaves with still-more appalling hidden details of his busy personal life...

    William Smith, Indy, Anonymous persons...

    I'm sure Ecclefechan wasn't suggesting Labour or the Whigs were just engaged in partisan heckling. Some sort of verification process to preserve some sort of integrity for their petition would have been wise. That said, Scotland for Marriage hardly seems bursting with tech-savvy youthfulness...


    Dreadful cynic, you.

  10. I am trying not to think about that unpleasant revelation... I can only assume that the person's involved were very drunk or truly desperate.

    On a more serious note, I hope that the arguments for and against do not turn into accusations of dirty tricks and hatred. I am sure there are members on both sides of the divide who would do such things, but I like to think they are a minority.

  11. Agree with that last point, TheeForsakenOne. It is difficult enough to talk about these issues meaningfully (and despite my desire to foster an approach more rooted in discussion than recrimination, I find it as difficult as the next soul, committed to a particular position on this). Little is added to that by daffy, shallow little off-topic dust ups.