The SNP has withdrawn support from its candidate in one of the party’s key target seats over allegations of antisemitism.
Neale Hanvey, who is standing in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, has become the first Nationalist in the 2019 general election to be dropped over comments made on Facebook.
The former councillor admitted to having shared an article from the Kremlin-backed news agency Sputnik from 2016 concerning the Hungarian financier George Soros, illustrated with an image showing him holding puppets of world leaders.
Kirsten Oswald, SNP Business Convener, said: “Antisemitism has no place in Scotland, and no place in the SNP. All political parties have a duty to show leadership, and to take tough action.
“Neale Hanvey is no longer an SNP candidate, and his membership has been suspended pending disciplinary action. All support for his campaign has been withdrawn.”
In line with its procedures, the party said it had consulted with representatives of the Jewish community in Scotland who agreed that the action taken was appropriate.
In a statement, Mr Hanvey said: “The reason for my suspension relates to several social media posts I made over two years ago.
“One message I posted was a news article from Sputnik news relating to George Soros which, I have since been advised, contained an image which is considered an antisemitic trope.
“On this occasion I did not give any thought to Mr Soros’ faith and did not consider connotations of the image in this context.
“I fully accept that this was wrong and I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused. While that was not my intention, that was the effect and I accept full responsibility for this serious misjudgment.”
He continued: “However upsetting this is for me, I fully support the decision of the national secretary to suspend me. The First Minister has called for leadership on this issue and she is absolutely right to take a zero tolerance approach.”
Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath was viewed as a key SNP target. It is being defended by Lesley Laird, the Shadow Scottish Secretary, who has a majority of just 259.
One poll published this week suggested Laird was already trailing her Nationalist opponent.
Hanvey is the third Scottish election candidate to be suspended by their party in the last two days.
The Scottish Greens candidate in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Scott Rutherford, has been endorsed by the pro-independence Yes Kirkcaldy group following today’s decision by the SNP.
Mr Rutherford said: “Discriminatory language is unacceptable and parties have a duty to act when their candidates use it.
“With the SNP suspending their candidate in Kirckaldy and Cowdenbeath, it’s now clear that only a vote for the Scottish Greens can unseat Lesley Laird and secure a pro-independence MP in this constituency.
“The Scottish Greens are already leading on local issues such as protecting the renewables supply chain at BiFab and tackling pollution at Mossmorran, so a vote for the Scottish Greens is a vote for independence and to demand climate action.”