The SNP has been accused of trying to smear Scottish Conservative leadership front-runner Douglas Ross, after Nicola Sturgeon’s party claimed he had a “long history of racist views”.
The allegation, which was made in a tweet posted from an official SNP account, was described as an “outrageous slur” by Mr Ross’s colleagues.
The tweet, which has since been deleted, displayed a link to the SNP website, which referred to remarks Mr Ross, the Moray MP, had made about the Traveller community.
The SNP website said Mr Ross had faced “heavy criticism” from human rights groups, including Amnesty International, three years ago for saying he would impose “tougher enforcement against Gypsy Travellers” as a top priority if he were prime minister for a day.
This was an outrageous slur… It does just reveal the depths to which the SNP operation is prepared to sink to try to smear a political opponent, who they clearly fear.”
Murdo Fraser, Conservative MSP
But the Tory MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Murdo Fraser said: “This was an outrageous slur on Douglas Ross by the SNP and it is no surprise that the tweet in question has been rapidly deleted.
“It does just reveal the depths to which the SNP operation is prepared to sink to try to smear a political opponent, who they clearly fear.”
The SNP tweet also accused Mr Ross – a top-level, qualified soccer referee – of “missing key debates for a football jaunt”.
Rather than take part in the debate and vote on Universal Credit, Mr Ross ran the line at the Camp Nou in Barcelona as the home side took on Greek team Olympiakos.
In full, the tweet said: “Long history of racist views. Missing key debates for a football jaunt. Voting against protecting our NHS. Always siding with Westminster over Scotland. Here’s all you need to know about Douglas Ross, the likely next Scottish Tory leader.”
A spokesman for Mr Ross said: “It’s disappointing that the SNP are choosing to stoop to this kind of thing. Douglas is going to remain focused on his positive message of ending the last decade of division and setting out an ambitious plan to move Scotland forward.”
A SNP spokeswoman said: “Douglas Ross received widespread criticism for his inflammatory and divisive comments about Gypsy/Travellers, including from Amnesty International.”