UK

Jim Murphy Returns To Scottish Referendum Campaign Trail As Abuse And Egg-Throwing Strangely Absent

02/09/2014 16:20 BST | Updated 02/09/2014 16:59 BST

The MP who called off his anti-independence tour of Scotland after "co-ordinated abuse" by the Yes camp has said the "tap of mob mentality" appears to have stopped.

Labour MP Jim Murphy resumed his tour with a set of eggs, a reminder of the egging he suffered last week, happily posed with a tabloid newspaper reporter dressed as a chicken and seemed to suggest the No campaign was more "patriotic" before adding: "This isn't a contest about patriotism."

After suspending the tour last week, he accused Yes supporters of coordinating abuse on social media and claimed to have been called a "terrorist, paedophile and quisling" by hecklers.

A kilted No supporter played the pipes as he mounted his Irn-Bru crates to cheers outside the Royal Scottish Academy Building off the city's Princes Street.

He was heckled only once as he addressed the crowd of about 300 supporters, many sporting No Thanks badges and signs.

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Check out the slideshow below for pictures of him with the chicken

There was a noticeable police presence at the event, with two police cars and four officers visible.

Speaking after addressing the crowd, Mr Murphy said: "I really enjoyed it, it's the warmest welcome a Glaswegian has ever had in Edinburgh.

"Whoever turned on the noisy tap of that kind of mob mentality over the past fortnight has quietly turned it off over the weekend and I think that's good for the referendum, and it's great for the campaign because we can now have a really passionate debate about the future of our country.

"We can get back to talking about the pound, pensions, who's going to pay for our public services with independence."

Mr Murphy denied he had overreacted by cancelling his tour and insisted that he had been the subject of coordinated attacks.

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He said: "It's clear in the past fortnight - you can see on all the social media sites - that that was co-ordinated by the Yes Scotland offices at a local level."

He said he was looking forward to the remaining stops on his journey but refused to comment on whether the police presence would continue.

Mr Murphy said: "I can't go further into any of the security details of it apart from to say that everyone on both sides of this argument should be able to passionately argue their case because this is the biggest decision we're going to take as a country.

"This is the most important decision we're ever going to take. It's irreversible. Once it's done, it's done, there's no going back and if it doesn't work out the way that nice man Mr Salmond tells us, we can't take it back to the shops.

"There's absolutely no guarantees with independence, which is why it's important to have this style of politics and make sure all our questions are answered."

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Jim Murphy, pictured being egged, said abuse was organised via Yes campaign pages on Facebook

He dismissed the suggestion that the Yes campaign has the momentum in the debate, with a new poll showing support for Scottish independence has risen eight points in a month.

Mr Murphy said: "The No campaign is in the lead and if you ask me which campaign I'd rather be with - the No or the Yes campaign - then I'd rather be with the leading campaign, the patriotic No campaign.

"The thing that worries me isn't the opinion polls, it's the fact that with a fortnight to go we still don't know what currency Scotland would use if we're independent. Those are real worries."

First Minister Alex Salmond has condemned intimidation from any side in the debate and urged independence campaigners to ignore Mr Murphy.

Yes supporters were conspicuously absent from the event in the capital.

During his speech, the Labour politician told a lone heckler in the crowd: "The gentleman's allowed to heckle, he can heckle as much as he wants. Just don't climb on my crates, don't call me a traitor, don't call me a quisling.

"Nobody in this debate is a traitor, nobody in this debate is a quisling."

He added: "This isn't a contest about patriotism, it isn't a contest about who loves our country most.

"Both sides in this argument have a passionate disagreement about what is best for our nation.

"Our patriotism is a lung-bursting, heart-filling patriotism, it's a relentless sense of pride in our history and our people.

"But that relentless sense of pride about our country shouldn't propel us to a decision that's bad for our nation."

Mr Murphy insisted he was "confident" as a Labour politician that the "vast majority" of Labour voters and trade unionists would vote No on September 18.

Warning Mr Salmond of "pride before a fall", he added: "I'm confident the quiet patriotic majority will stand up and be counted on referendum day."

Jim Murphy Rejoins The Campaign Trail