I JOINED the SNP 23 years ago as a “grassroots member”. Since then I’ve been a councillor, council group leader and am at present an MSP. But, most importantly, I am still that same grassroots member.

There is, or should be, no difference between elected members and others in this SNP and Yes family and that’s something we should all remember over the next few weeks, months and years while we contest elections, be they Euros, Westminster, Holyrood, local government or, of course, the forthcoming independence referendum. In my opening paragraph I used the terms “SNP” and “Yes family” advisedly. Like all families there will be some you like better than others, some you disagree with, slightly or more fundamentally, some you’d rather never hear from again and, unfortunately, occasionally there are some whose behaviour is so beyond the pale that they are no longer considered as part of the family.

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Over the last week there has been some undoubted falling out within the family.

I have known for many years the three SNP members quoted in The Herald On Sunday. They are hard-working, conscientious, committed nationalists and I am sure they were unaware of how their comments would be used to attack tens of thousands of dedicated Yes activists.

I have no doubt they were unaware that The Herald On Sunday would, for the second year in a row (the first was back in the Sunday Herald days), write a front page to attempt to deflect from and deflate the amazing success of the Glasgow march, a peaceful march of approximately 100,000 committed activists that was conducted with great dignity, despite the best efforts of a pathetic handful of abusive protesters.

The National: The 'War on Cybernat' story came the day after a huge march for independenceThe 'War on Cybernat' story came the day after a huge march for independence

That should have been the front page, not this desperate attempt to create a split in the Yes movement. And we in the Yes movement, including us in the SNP, should keep at the forefront of our mind.

Families have fall-outs. They say stupid things sometimes, they argue over things said but generally they make up and look after each other, even when they don’t necessarily agree. I’m not sure we’ve seen enough of that recently.

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It sometimes appears we’re quick to tarnish a huge group of good people for the actions of a fringe few, yet at the same time forget to mention the abuse that ordinary members of the Yes movement receive on a regular basis.

SNP politicians have also been on the end of this abuse, much more so than any I have seen reported as being received by politicians from other parties. For the FM, Humza Yousaf, Joanna Cherry and others, including myself, the abuse has included death threats, threats of assaults, personal abuse and attempts to physically harm. I have revealed details of some of them today in this newspaper.

Now, I’m not for a second suggesting there isn’t a fringe of nasty, abusive apparently Yes people on Twitter – and I’m happy if we call them out – but maybe, just maybe, we would all feel better if the same determination and vigour was used to highlight the attacks on our side.

After all, the first responsibility of family surely, is to look after each other, particularly when under threat.

Here’s what I’d like to see us do: be wary about requests to comment on our supporters; weed out the minute number of serial abusers on Twitter (and I don’t mean those who hold opposing views or use what a friend of mine used to call “industrial language”); look after our own when they are attacked but primarily remember the “grassroots” are not someone else, they are us.

Without them the Yes movement and the SNP are nothing. Everything we have at present is owed to them.

So I urge the movement let’s put the last week behind us, treat each other with respect and remember … whenever we need comfort and support we always tend to go back to our roots.

After all that’s what family is all about!