SNP youth leader tells of regret

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A SENIOR SNP figure at the centre of a smear row has admitted she “went too far” in an e-mail she sent about a Labour MP.

Gail Lythgoe, who sits on the party’s national executive and heads its youth wing, lobbied an influential women’s group to attend a demonstration against Glasgow South West MP Ian Davidson.

It followed a recent clash in a private meeting between Mr Davidson and Nationalist MP Eilidh Whiteford, who claimed later the Labour MP threatened to give her a “doing”. He denies any threat was made.

Ms Lythgoe’s e-mail to the Scottish Women’s Budget Group claimed that Mr Davidson had a “history of bullying and intimidation, particularly towards females” and called on the group to join a protest in Glasgow this week at a meeting attended by the Labour politician.

But Ms Lythgoe said in a statement last night: “As a young woman I was angered by Mr Davidson’s comments to Eilidh Whiteford and sought to demonstrate against them. I regret that in my e-mail I went further than I should have done.”

Mr Davidson announced that he would be consulting lawyers after hearing of Ms Lythgoe’s comments. In the end, no protest was held at Monday’s meeting of the Scottish affairs select committee in Glasgow.

Labour business manager Paul Martin last night stepped up calls for an internal SNP inquiry into the affair.

“I am glad Gail Lythgoe acknowledges her behaviour was unacceptable,” he said. “The case for a full investigation into the ethics and operation of the SNP student wing is now unanswerable.”

Ms Lythgoe is married to Nationalist MP Humza Housaf and also works as a researcher for MSP Joan McAlpine, a close ally of First Minister Alex Salmond. Labour are now calling on Ms McAlpine to clarify her position.

Mr Martin added: “There is a dark side to how some in the SNP uses the cover of the internet to spread smears. It must stop. This goes to the heart of how politics in Scotland should be conducted.”

But the SNP attempted to draw a line under the affair. A spokeswoman for the party said: “It is surely time for all political parties to take a step back and remember that the issues that matter to people most are jobs, crime and the future of Scotland.”

It is the latest twist in the row surrounding Mr Davidson, the chairman of the Scottish affairs select committee at Westminster, and Dr Whiteford.

Mr Davidson insisted that the Nationalist MP had been receiving criticism from other members of the committee during the recent private meeting and he used the offending phrase in the context of “You’ve had a doing, now let’s move on”.