SNP councillor accused of xenophobia in deleted online rant with English DJ

An SNP councillor has been accused of xenophobia against English people following a heated online rant with a leading broadcaster.

Livingston South councillor Dr Moira Shemilt has deleted the offending tweet. Picture: SNP
Livingston South councillor Dr Moira Shemilt has deleted the offending tweet. Picture: SNP

SNP politician Dr Moira Shemilt responded to a tweet by BBC Radio 6 Music DJ Liz Kershaw, in which the English broadcaster criticised Nicola Sturgeon's reception of Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Edinburgh last Monday.

"Can't even be civil to a visitor," Ms Kersaw wrote, the comment attracting ire from SNP supporters, to which the DJ responded: "When I was a child we used to go to Scotland every year for six weeks' summer holidays. Dornoch, Oban, Skye, Arisaig, Iona etc. and was plagued by midges.

"Now I've commented on Scottish politics, I'm attacked by Nats. Loved Scotland then and still do."

Dr Shemilt's tweet has since been deleted.

Dr Shemilt, 68, a councillor for Livingston South, hit back, claiming Scotland is not "England's holiday park" and urged the radio host to "read some books" and "think about the model of Colonialism".

"Scotland isn't a place where you go your holidays," the tweet read.

"We are not England's holiday park. FFS Do yourself a favour, read some books.

"Have a wee think about the model of Colonialism."

Prime Minister Mr Johnson arrived at Bute House on Monday during his first official visit to Scotland as UK premier.

A chorus of boos rang out from a section of those waiting to greet him, while Conservative supporters called Ms Sturgeon's welcoming of the new leader into question.

Pro-union figures have slammed Dr Shemilt's response, which has since been deleted. Her Twitter account also appears to have been removed.

Labour Party politician and Scotland in Union chief executive Pamela Nash branded the rant "xenophobic" and said: "This is an appalling tweet and the SNP should consider what action it is going to take.

"It's disappointing that a Nationalist politician is so keen to talk Scotland down rather than encourage people from England and further afield to visit and work in our country.

"We should celebrate what unites us across the United Kingdom, not focus on division."Echoing Ms Nash's views was Scottish Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston, who queried how it was that Dr Shemilt hadn't "been sacked by the SNP yet".

A spokesperson for the SNP said: "The views expressed in this deleted tweet in no way represent the SNP.

"Councillor Shemilt has written to Miss Kersaw to express her sincere and unreserved apologies."

It is not the first time Dr Shemilt has courted controversy.

In 2014, just one day after the Scottish independence referendum, she branded a pro-union Labour supporter a "quisling" and called Labour MP Ian Davidson a "traitor" for opting to stick with the United Kingdom.

Dr Shemilt found herself in more hot water last year, when she suggested Brexit is worse than the 2003 Iraq war and decades of IRA bombings by a "country mile".