SNP councillor resigns over Scots slavery tweet

David Berry. Picture: Ian Georgeson
David Berry. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A LEADING SNP councillor has quit the party following a row over a Twitter comment in which he compared Scotland’s relationship with UK to slavery.

Former East Lothian council leader Dave Berry later apologised and withdrew the remarks, but today the Scottish National Party confirmed he had resigned.

Councillor Berry came within 151 votes of ousting the then Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray as East Lothian MSP in the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections.

Last week, he spotted a tweet from the anti-independence campaign Better Together, which referred to leaflets featuring people saying why they think Scotland is stronger in the UK. He responded: “Do you have equivalent quotes from abused women saying why they don’t need a divorce or slaves happy on the plantation, Massah?”

That prompted a flurry of protests and Cllr Berry initially defended his comments, arguing that the slavery comparison was justified by Westminster’s decision to base Trident in Scotland and that North Sea oil and gas revenue flowing to the Treasury was akin to domestic abuse.

But later he tweeted: “In view of strong response, my original comments seem excessive. I withdraw them and apologise if I caused offence.”

And he later wrote in a blog: “This was a major faux pas, for which I take full responsibility.”

Confirming his resignation, an SNP spokesman said: “This was a personal decision by Cllr Berry. He withdrew his comments last week and apologised, and the SNP regarded the matter as closed. We thank him for his contribution to the party and wish him well.”

Labour claimed the saga exposed “the ugly side of nationalism”.

Cllr Berry, who represents North Berwick coastal ward, was council leader in East Lothian from 2007 until 2010, when he stood down to concentrate on winning a Holyrood seat.