Nicola Sturgeon claims gay Labour leader Kezia Dugdale used homophobia questions as ‘smokescreen’
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has claimed that Labour leader Kezia Dugdale used a row over homophobic comments as a “smokescreen”.
During First Minister’s Questions today, out Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale revealed she is getting legal threats after condemning a “homophobic comment” from a prominent blogger with close ties to the SNP.
Stuart Campbell, who pens the blog Wings Over Scotland, earlier this year sent a jibe aimed at the UK government’s newly-out Scottish Secretary David Mundell and his son Oliver Mundell.
He wrote: “Oliver Mundell is the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad embraced his homosexuality sooner.”
The comments were widely condemned, with Ms Dugdale branding them “homophobic”. But speaking in Parliament, Ms Dugdale revealed that Mr Campbell is demanding compensation from her for “damage to reputation”.
The Labour leader said: “I called out Mr Campbell for his homophobic comments [and now] Mr Campbell has written to me via his lawyer to demand a £10,000 payment for ‘damage to reputation’. I stand firmly by my comment: I have never kowtowed to a bully, and I will not start today.”
Ms Dugdale challenged the Scottish National Party’s ties to the blogger, adding: “SNP politicians continue to positively engage with him and to alert their followers to his beliefs.
“There are a few SNP politicians who have called him out, but [many] have actively encouraged him along. I have the list here in my hand, and it includes 10 [Scottish Government] ministers.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted she opposes homophobia but declined to disavow the blogger by name, claiming that the Labour leader was using the incident as a “smokescreen”.
She added: “It is deeply unfortunate for Kezia Dugdale to get up in here and suggest that I would condone homophobia in any way, shape or form.”
Pressed on the number of SNP politicians who continue to openly engage with Mr Campbell on social media, the First Minister retorted that she “follows thousands of people on Twitter” and that attempting to tie the pro-Scottish Independence blog to the pro-independence SNP is “an absolutely ridiculous line of questioning”.
She added: “I unequivocally condemn abuse of any kind… I am not responsible for Stuart Campbell any more than Kezia Dugdale is responsible for people who hurl abuse at me in the name of their being supporters of the Labour Party.”
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After the Labour leader continued to push the issue, Ms Sturgeon claimed: “Kezia Dugdale is creating a smokescreen because her party is in disarray—it is in civil war and it is in meltdown.
“She is directing this line of questioning at me in order to hide the simple fact that the leader of the Scottish Labour Party is not in control of her own party and cannot stop her councillors going into coalition with Tories up and down the country.
“She is using her questions as a smokescreen to protect herself against the state of her own party.”
It is not the first time the SNP has faced questions over its ties to controversial figures.
The party has taken large donations from Brian Souter, a businessman who funded a campaign to maintain a ban on “the promotion of homosexuality in schools”.