Alex Salmond is at the centre of a row about transgender rights over a remark he is reported to have made to the respected broadcaster Jim Spence.
Writing in his latest column for The Courier, Mr Spence claimed the former first minister complained to him the SNP had been “captured by around a hundred loony tune transgender warriors”.
Nicola Sturgeon said the alleged remarks were a “complete mischaracterisation of reality” and also “pretty offensive”.
The Alba Party leader said he contacted Mr Spence to try to secure his endorsement and referred to so-called “keyboard warriors” who he believed were “unjustly labelling other people as transphobic”.
Mr Spence, a former Dundee University rector, previously wrote about how he spoke to Mr Salmond for about 20 minutes when he was asked if he would endorse the Alba chief ahead of the election.
In his latest column for The Courier, the former BBC man said: “Alex Salmond, the Alba creator, said to me recently: ‘If you’d told me seven years ago that the party that I once led would be captured by around a hundred loony tune transgender warriors I’d have laughed at you.’”
Alex Salmond, the Alba creator, said to me recently: ‘If you’d told me seven years ago that the party that I once led would be captured by around 100 loony tune transgender warriors I’d have laughed at you.'”
Mr Spence was discussing his belief that a “civil war” in the independence movement now “seems certain”.
He said: “I suspect that guerrilla war could erupt into full blown conflict as the SNP continue with their cautious approach to ‘building the case’ for independence, much to the anger of Alba, the new ‘old’ kids on the block.'”
The Alba Party previously faced criticism after a candidate reportedly claimed Stonewall Scotland and LGBT Youth Scotland were lobbying to lower the age of consent to the age of 10.
Mr Salmond led the SNP for two decades, in two spells, but is now seeking to become an Alba Party MSP for the north-east region at the Holyrood election on Thursday.
He confirmed he had a private conversation with Mr Spence about six weeks ago when he was seeking his endorsement.
I remember the circumstances very well indeed although I don’t accept that what appears in his column represents an exact quotation.”
“I remember the circumstances very well indeed although I don’t accept that what appears in his column represents an exact quotation,” he said.
“It should be made clear for example that I was referring to so-called ‘keyboard warriors’, unjustly labelling other people as transphobic.”
Mr Salmond said he spoke to Mr Spence immediately after a phone call to Joanna Cherry MP, and that she had “told me of the continuing abuse and pile-ons she was receiving online from a group of SNP members because she was speaking out from a lesbian and feminist perspective”.
‘People have the right to freely express their views’
The Alba Party leader added: “I did say to Jim that I never thought that such behaviour by such keyboard warriors would be part of SNP politics, of the party which I was proud to lead for 20 years, and that I would have laughed at the very suggestion a few years ago.
“People have the right to freely express their views without being labelled transphobic.”
Ms Sturgeon was asked about the reported remarks while on the campaign trail on Tuesday.
The first minister said: “I don’t want to dignify that comment too much, to be honest.
“It’s a complete mischaracterisation of reality, but it’s also pretty offensive.
“The Alex Salmond I used to know believed in an SNP that was inclusive and, in its own inclusivity, demonstrated the kind of Scotland we wanted to build.
“And that is what I still believe in – a Scotland that values everybody for who they are, and a Scotland where everybody feels safe and respected.”
Candidates in this election have a responsibility to champion the individuals they hope to represent, and this includes LGBT+ people.”
Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: “‘This election is about the kind of society we want to live in.
“Candidates in this election have a responsibility to champion the individuals they hope to represent, and this includes LGBT+ people.
‘Out of touch’
“Trans people in Scotland still face huge levels of abuse and inequality and it’s appalling to see a party use trans people’s lives as a political football.
“Mr Salmond’s views are also out of touch with what the majority of Scotland wants and that is for trans people to be treated with dignity, respect and acceptance.
“We should all be focusing on tackling prejudice and supporting LGBT+ communities.”