Prospective SNP candidates for Holyrood seats have been labelled a “disgrace” by the Scottish Conservatives for stating that independence is their driving force to be elected.
One potential candidate, SNP councillor and housing convener at Edinburgh City Council, Kate Campbell, wrote on Twitter that there is “nothing more important than independence”.
Meanwhile, another potential SNP candidate looking to replace the retiring Roseanna Cunningham as the MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, Jim Fairlie posted “independence is always my prime motivation for standing”.
Dean Lockhart, the Scottish Conservative’s constitution spokesman labelled the statements an “absolute disgrace” and claimed Scots would be “sickened and appalled” at the prioritisation of independence over issues such as Covid-19.
He said: “In the middle of a pandemic with Covid cases rising quickly, these comments are an absolute disgrace.
“Scottish people will be sickened and appalled. They’re worried about their health and losing their jobs, while SNP candidates are shouting from the rooftops that there’s ‘nothing more important than independence’ to win over party members.
“These candidates are only following the lead of SNP ministers, who have brought forward another divisive Referendum Bill while Scotland is facing up to six months of Covid restrictions.
“While the SNP push for another referendum, the Scottish Conservatives’ priorities are managing the pandemic and rebuilding Scotland stronger by focussing on jobs and schools.”
Cllr Campbell, who has been asked to stand as an opponent to the minister of community safety, Ash Denham, said the only way for Scotland to respond adequately to the pandemic was if it had the powers which came with independence.
She added that the UK Government continues to make ‘damaging decisions’ for Scotland with independence the only opportunity for the country to “flourish”.
She said: “The pandemic, coupled with the harm being caused to Scotland by a chaotic Brexit, shows precisely why we need independence.
"We need to be able to take decisions that protect jobs and our economy. But at the moment that power lies in Westminster - and Boris has shown himself to be totally incompetent and indifferent to Scotland’s needs.
“In Edinburgh we’ve seen the highest new claimant count in Scotland - and that suggests that many more jobs are under threat. The risk of serious damage to our economy, and therefore to people’s lives, is enormous and terrifying.
“We need independence because the UK government is making decisions that are damaging to Scotland.
"They’re prepared to act against our will, whether it’s our vote to remain in the EU, or the refusal to acknowledge that the majority of people in Scotland support independence and therefore it’s our right to have a referendum.
“Only with the full powers of independence will we be able to fully repair our economy and build back better so that Scotland is not just able to recover, but to flourish.”
The comments from the Scottish Tories came after Nicola Sturgeon called out misogyny and online abuse of Holyrood candidates on Twitter.
The First Minister said the abuse dished out by “cybernats”, online supporters of Scottish independence and the Scottish National Party, came from “keyboard warriors”, who she described as “cowards” and urged her fellow parliamentarians to offer support to those standing for the first time.