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'It was just ridiculous to compare my children to Nazis for wearing Yes T-shirts'

'WE are teaching our children to stand up to bullies." Despite a hail of criticism about her parenting choices, Lorna Craig is unwavering in her determination to ensure her two children are politically engaged.

Eight-year-old Tony Craig and his sister Kimberley (10) from West Lothian, wear their 'it's about my future' T-shirtsPhotograph: Stewart Attwood
Eight-year-old Tony Craig and his sister Kimberley (10) from West Lothian, wear their 'it's about my future' T-shirtsPhotograph: Stewart Attwood

She said: "Tony and Kim both make their own choices. It's hard enough to make Tony go in the bath, never mind force him to attend a rally if he didn't want to.

"For people to say we were 'forcing' them to join in is ridiculous. They are both intelligent and interested in what is happening around them - I will continue to support that."

This week, the Craig family found themselves at the centre of a Twitter storm. From being a family making private decisions Lorna suddenly had strangers online questioning her choices as a mother, calling her irresponsible and saying her decision to bring Tony and Kimberley to a political rally was "close to child abuse."

On top of that, there were even comparisons to the Hitler Youth. It all started when Lorna, an independence supporter, took her children with her to join a rally outside Pacific Quay, protesting an alleged BBC bias against the Yes cause.

Kathy Wiles, who had been selected as Labour's candidate for Angus just 24 hours earlier, handed in her resignation after tweeting an image of the Hitler Youth around a Nazi flag.

The photograph was posted during a conversation with Labour activists on social media, claiming she wanted to highlight the dangers of using children in political campaigns.

The picture mocked a photo of Lorna's children standing under a banner for the online independence blog Wings Over Scotland with three other young children. While Kim had chosen a "Teachers Not Trident" T-shirt, Tony had asked to wear a "Babies Not Bombs" top. Both had "It's About Our Future" on the back. The other three children had T-shirts spelling out "AYE".

Lorna said: "I told the children I was going to a rally to make a lot of noise and they wanted to come along.

"When I told the them I was going to have, 'It's About Our Future' put on the T-shirts, Tony said, 'Mum, but it's about all our futures,' and I was so impressed by him.

"My two ended up playing with the other three and running around, and so my mother and I had our photographs taken with them."

The small scene, of five children with flags and slogans, antagonised No supporters on twitter. Comments ranged from "Using kids under a Wings Over Scotland banner is truly beyond the pale. Close to child abuse"; to "I just saw images of kids no older than six brandishing Yes T-shirt outside a BBC protest. How wrong to involve them."

Far from being political patsies, however, both young people seem quite capable of making up their own minds and support the Yes side.

"Kim is Mrs Greenpeace and she was flabbergasted by the idea she hadn't chosen to go to the rally," Lorna said. "She is far more green than I am and, for her, independence is all about the chance to have a green future. She's really concerned about Trident but she hasn't learned these things solely at home. At school they were taught about Unicef and that really caught her imagination.

"Kim came home one day and told me about how poor other children are around the world and I said, 'We have children who are poor here in Scotland.' She saw that as an injustice."

Certainly, Kim, 10, seems to know her own mind. "I do learn things from my mum but I've learned a lot from school," she says. "There are children in Scotland who are starving and who have nothing. I think they will be better off if we get independence.

"I speak to my friends about the vote and I tell them to get their parents, if they are voting No, to vote Yes. It's really important."

Tony, who is eight, is of a similar mind. Both children know that things were said about them on Twitter and they know who Hitler was. Tony said: "It was really mean, they were saying mean things about us on the internet. It's very important that Scotland has all the information to make a decision and the BBC is not telling the whole truth.

"I'm going to go back again to the next demonstration. I liked being at the rally."

Lorna, although bemused at finding herself at the centre of a row, is similarly unperturbed by the unsolicited opinions of people who disagree with her stance.

The family will be at the third "BBC bias" rally today. They strongly believe the broadcaster is being unfair in its reporting of the referendum debate but the BBC insists its coverage is "fair and impartial in line with the editorial guidelines".

Lorna, a member of Yes West Lothian, added: "The children attracted a lot of positivity. I mean, they were wearing anti-bomb T-shirts. To suggests there was anything negative at all about them being there is so ridiculous, not to mention comparing them to fascists.

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