Election 2015 Scotland

Election 2015: Sturgeon condemns candidate Neil Hay tweets

Neil Hay Image copyright ALLAN MILLIGAN
Image caption Neil Hay used the Twitter pseudonym "Paco McSheepie"

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has condemned social media comments by one of her party's UK election candidates.

Neil Hay, who is standing in Edinburgh South, referred to supporters of the UK as "quislings" on Twitter, under the pseudonym "Paco McSheepie".

During first minister's questions, deputy Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said he should be sacked.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats questioned Mr Hay's fitness for public office.

Mr Hay's tweets are also reported to have included claims that some elderly voters can "barely remember their own names.

The Paco McSheepie account has been deleted.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Sturgeon said voters could decide Mr Hay's fate when they go to the polls in two weeks.

She also challenged Ms Dugdale to take action against Labour activist Ian Smart, who previously described the SNP as "fascist scum" online.

Ms Dugdale said Mr Hay had been exposed as an "anonymous troll who described the majority of Scots as traitors" and had been "categorically challenging the right of pensioners to vote".

Apology 'right'

The deputy Scottish Labour leader said Ms Sturgeon had already been forced to apologise to the victims of online abuse from SNP supporters, adding: "Rather than simply empathising with the victims, she needs to show some leadership and take on the perpetrators - and that starts with the sacking of Neil Hay."

Ms Sturgeon said: "I do condemn the language used and I condemn the comments made - as I always do when anybody steps out of line on Twitter, on Facebook or any medium.

"Neil Hay has rightly apologised. I think, given that we face an election two weeks today, it's now up to the voters to decide."

On Mr Smart, Ms Sturgeon added: "It's not the first time he's used remarks like that and I would invite Kezia Dugdale, before she comes to me, lecturing me on what she expects me to do about SNP members - can I just politely suggest to her that she puts her own house in order first?"

Ms Dugdale said she would look into the matter.

'Dirty tricks'

Deputy Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Sir Malcolm Bruce said of the SNP candidate's comments: "This is the sort of dirty tricks which undermine faith in democracy.

"The ball is now in the court of the SNP, and the electorate of Edinburgh South."

A Scottish Conservative spokesman, added: "Voters across Edinburgh South will be shocked by the views expressed by SNP candidate Neil Hay and questions clearly must be asked if he is fit to serve in public office.

"Nicola Sturgeon has said she will not tolerate this sort of language and attacks on Scots - it's time she proved that."