Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of making “worthless” claims about having zero tolerance to racism in the SNP after it emerged the party is not punishing a prominent councillor who made anti-English remarks.
A spokesman for the Nationalists confirmed that Dave Doogan, the depute leader of SNP-run Perth and Kinross Council, was not being disciplined for delivering a speech that referred to “quislings” and Scotland being “under the heel of foreign influence for 300 years.”
When his comments emerged last week, the First Minister told MSPs that she condemned “any” anti-English comments but did not state whether Mr Doogan would be disciplined by the party.
The Conservatives said that her refusal to act showed her denouncement of racism was “empty and worthless.”
The councillor, who previously worked for Deputy First Minister John Swinney, this week declined an opportunity to clarify his comments or apologise when approached by a local newspaper. Instead he referred the reporter to Ms Sturgeon’s office.
His comments emerged last week, only days after she insisted there was no racism in her party and castigated London mayor Sadiq Khan for comparing nationalism with racism.
Murdo Fraser, a Tory MSP, told First Minister’s Questions that Mr Doogan made them in a speech in Gaelic to fellow councillors, before providing a translation to a local newspaper.
It stated: "Let us not reflect on concerns that we have been under the heel of foreign influence and power for 300 years. The island of Britain is no longer subject to the actions of quislings who may seek to see smaller cultures extinguished on an island of coffins by redcoats."
Mr Fraser condemned the decision not to punish Mr Doogan, saying: “This shows the First Minister comments denouncing this anti-English language were empty and worthless.
“Despite what she told the chamber, it seems she is only too happy for such individuals to hold office and officially represent the SNP."
Challenged to apologise for or clarify his remarks, Mr Doogan told the Dundee Courier: “I have no comment to make. If you want a comment you will need to go to the First Minister’s office.” Her official spokesman told the newspaper it was a matter for the party.
Pressed by the Telegraph to confirm the councillor was not being disciplined for the remarks, an SNP spokesman said: “That’s right.” He then confirmed a second time that this was the case.
But he said: “As the First Minister made very clear last week the SNP condemns all comments that are in any way, shape or form racist or anti-English or that in any way seek to divide people on the basis of their ethnicity.
"She also called on people to reflect carefully on the fact that the SNP is right now among the loudest voices in the UK calling for diversity, tolerance and freedom of movement and among the loudest voices standing up for the benefits of migration."