AN SNP election candidate has apologised after posting offensive messages on Twitter likening anti-independence campaigners to Nazi collaborators and disparaging the elderly.
Neil Hay, who is aiming to dislodge Labour’s Ian Murray in Edinburgh South, suggested some elderly voters “can barely remember their names” in a series of posts under the pseudonym Paco McSheepie.
Despite insisting the account was old, it remained active until earlier this month – and was only deleted yesterday after the Evening News approached the SNP.
Scottish Labour deputy leader Kezia Dugdale today called for Mr Hay to be sacked, saying the issue was “a test of Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership”.
Mr Hay posted many of the offensive tweets while he was officially running the Yes Scotland campaign in Edinburgh Southern.
One, on October 22, 2012, likened supporters of the UK to “Quislings” – a reference to the name of the Nazi collaborator who headed the puppet Norwegian government during Hitler’s occupation of the Scandinavian country.
However, the strongest attacks were aimed at pensioners. Two tweets on June 8, 2012, mocked some elderly voters for “barely knowing their own name”, and claimed: “The generation who vote the same way because they always have done are dying off.”
Today, Mr Hay said: “The words in these old tweets were poorly chosen, and I apologise for any offence caused. They are not in keeping with the way I would express myself now.
“To make it clear that I and the way I express myself have moved on – I hope and believe for the better – I deleted this Twitter account, and only use my own campaign account.”
The businessman, who currently works as a full-time volunteer for the Edinburgh Cyrenians charity, also used the account to support Yes supporters shouting down Labour’s Glasgow Central MP Anas Sarwar, the only Muslim MP in Scotland, when he was speaking at a cross-party rally in support of the victims of violence in Gaza.
The Westminster candidate also claimed the UK parliament “has an attraction to the vile and greedy and can corrupt even those with good intentions”.
Ms Dugdale said the tweets showed there was “no distinction” between “keyboard warriors using offensive slurs and the SNP’s official representatives”.
She said: “Nicola Sturgeon must sack Neil Hay. When a journalist was called a quisling recently the SNP leader said that kind of language has absolutely no place in democratic political debate.
“This is a test for Nicola Sturgeon. Does she think it is acceptable for a parliamentary candidate to use an anonymous account to abuse his opponents? Does she think it is acceptable to compare the majority of Scots to Nazi collaborators?”
The news followed a poll by Lord Ashcroft which showed the Edinburgh South seat was on a knife edge, with the SNP three points ahead of Labour. Mr Murray won the seat in 2010 by just 316 votes.
Salmond hits out at PM ‘jibe’
FORMER SNP leader Alex Salmond has hit out at a jibe by David Cameron about him pinching people’s wallets.
The Prime Minister was broadcast making the quip at the end of an interview and viewer call-in on ITV’s This Morning as host Phillip Schofield moved on to the next item.
Mr Schofield said: “Up next, a man who can pinch your wallet, your watch and even your tie without you noticing.”
Mr Cameron, who was off camera, could then be heard saying: “Is that Alex Salmond?”
Co-host Amanda Holden burst out laughing at the remark as the programme went to adverts.
Mr Salmond said: “The Tories have been picking Scotland’s pocket for years, and have been well and truly rumbled, which is why David Cameron and the rest of the Westminster gang are sinking like a stone in Scotland.
“Of course, it’s typical of David Cameron’s style to make an off-microphone jibe but he didn’t have the bottle to debate in the referendum or with Nicola Sturgeon in this election.”