Ruth Davison has accused the SNP of pursuing “Orwellian” nationalism and warned of the dangers of playing “identity politics” over independence.
The Scottish Conservative leader used a lecture to the George Orwell Foundation in London to highlight contrasts between patriotism and nationalism.
She said Scots who did not back the SNP had been “hectored and bullied” and made to feel like “foreigners”.
However, the claims have been dismissed as an “embarrassment” by opposition figures in both the SNP and Labour.
The Tory leader said Orwell’s observation’s about nationalist obsession would “sound very familiar” for those in Scotland.
“In Scotland, political nationalism has introduced the idea that only one side of the constitutional divide can be the authentic voice of ‘the people of Scotland’. That only it has the right to be heard. That other voices are, by their nature, illegitimate and phoney,” she said.
She added: “I would suggest that the modern SNP has made this technique its own.”
An SNP source said the Tory leader’s stance was undermined by her support of a Brexit Britain “turning its back on its nearest neighbours and trying to make enemies of our European allies.”
They added: “It is Orwellian to lecture others on nationalism when she’s the one who drapes herself in a flag and drives around in a tank.”
Scottish Labour General Election campaign manager James Kelly branded Ms Davidson an “embarrassment”.
He said: “This is the leader who turned our political debate into a shouting match about flags rather than the issues people care about.
“At every turn Ruth Davidson has put the narrow British nationalism of the Tories ahead of what’s best for the people of this country.
“Davidson and Nicola Sturgeon are both blinded by flags and it is working families who lose out. There is an alternative to the extreme nationalism of the Tories and the independence obsession of the SNP.
“It’s a Labour government fighting for better wages jobs and public services, not fighting for a economically catastrophic hard Brexit or a second independence referendum Scotland doesn’t want.”