12/01/2012 23:24 GMT | Updated 13/03/2012 09:12 GMT

Joan McAlpine Accused Of 'Political Racism' For Calling Non-SNP Politicians 'Anti-Scottish'

A member of the Scottish Parliament has been accused of "political racism" after she appeared to claim anyone who opposed the SNP's timetable for a independence referendum was "anti-Scottish".

Speaking in the Parliament on Thursday, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said she made "no apology" for saying that the Lib Dems, the Labour Party and the Conservatives were "anti-Scottish in coming together to defy the will of the Scottish people, the democratic mandate the Scottish people gave us to hold the referendum at a time of our choosing".

First minister Alex Salmond has said he wants to hold a referendum in the Autumn of 2014. However the British government has said it would prefer to see any poll be held sooner.

McAlpine's comments were challenged in the chamber by Tory and Labour MSPs. Neil Findlay (Lab) said she was an "utter disgrace" for suggesting that Scots who wanted to remain part of the UK were not patriotic.

McAlpine, who is a parliamentary aide to Salmond, responded that she was addressing her comments not to members of the public but "to the Labour party, the Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats ... who, thank goodness, do not represent the people of Scotland".

This caused Jackson Carlaw (Con) to accuse McAlpine of "political racism" by implying people who belonged for a different political party than the SNP did not love their country.

"The claim by the SNP that there is some additional moral authority or additional pride or additional birthright to speak on behalf of the people of Scotland because they vote SNP is offensive," he said.

"If you spoke against somebody who was gay, you would be homophobic. If you speak against somebody who was black, you would be racist. If you say people are anti-Scottish because they belong to a different political party, that is a form of political racism."

Appearing on the BBC's Question Time programme on Thursday evening, SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon said: "Nobody who believes Scotland should stay in the UK is anti-Scottish."