New Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has described SNP policies as “Orwellian” in their restriction of civil liberties.
Mr Farron claimed that the Nationalists had “politicised” the police in Scotland and taken the “same authoritarian approach” as Tony Blair, including plans to bring in ID cards.
They plan to have facial recognition software on CCTVTim Farron
In a BBC interview, Mr Farron also claimed that the fact the SNP was now a “centre-left authoritarian” party meant that Labour now has “no room” to make a comeback in Scotland, while there is a big opportunity for his own party to provide an alternative voice.
Mr Farron’s comments come as he takes over a party reduced to just eight MPs in the House of Commons at the last election, at which it only held on to Orkney and Shetland from its previous 11 Scottish seats.
Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday, Mr Farron said there were several areas where the SNP had set an authoritarian agenda.
He said: “It’s important to note what the Nationalists are doing in government.
“They have a single, central politicised police force where police on the streets of the Highlands – and there aren’t many streets in the Highlands – are automatically now tooled up.
“We have an ID database system which is very similar to the kind Tony Blair tried to introduce. In Edinburgh they are setting forward with plans to have facial recognition software on CCTV.
“So there’s a real sense of almost Orwellian, Big Brother authoritarianism up there.
“That makes me understand, by the way, that there is no room for the Labour Party in Scotland. You might think that’s a peculiar thing to say, but what are the SNP? They are centre-left and authoritarian, in other words, just like the Labour Party. In Scotland there is no room for Labour, bags of room for a Liberal party and I hope we’re going to fill that space.”
But the new Lib Dem leader’s comments were dismissed by the SNP, who at the last election won 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats.
Drew Hendry, the new SNP MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, said Mr Farron’s “silly comments” highlight how “out of touch he is with the reality north of the Border”.
Mr Hendry said: “His claims bear no resemblance to the politically engaged, energised nation Scotland has become since the referendum.
“His repeated ridiculous remarks about Scotland are embarrassing to his own party.
“They are so wrong that they underline why his party was comprehensively rejected by the people of Scotland in May, while a poll this week put support for the SNP at 60 per cent on the constituency vote as people continue to put their trust in us.
“By contrast, Lib Dem support is just 5 per cent in Scotland.”