SNP president Mike Russell was mimicking online trolls when he appeared to blast a senior colleague for failing to focus on “the day job” while plugging his new book on social media, a party source has claimed.
Mr Russell quickly deleted a tweet on Saturday where he appeared to suggest SNP constitution secretary Angus Robertson was in “breach of MSP code”.
It came after Mr Robertson, who won the Edinburgh Central seat previously held by former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson at May’s Scottish Parliament election, began touting his new book about the Austrian capital, Vienna.
— Angus Robertson (@AngusRobertson) September 25, 2021
Mr Robertson shared a video of himself opening a box containing a number of copies of Vienna – The International Capital with a link to where it can be pre-ordered online.
Around three hours after Mr Robertson’s tweet, Mr Russell – who previously held the constitution secretary post – replied by mistake.
He wrote: “Hmm – might be a breach of MSP code too. And legitimate for people to ask what he is doing in the day job.”
A senior figure
Mr Robertson is regarded as a senior party figure and was immediately handed a cabinet role after being elected to the Scottish Parliament in May.
The former Moray MP was depute leader of the party until 2018 and led the party at Westminster until losing his seat to the Scottish Tories’ current leader, Douglas Ross, at the 2017 General Election.
Official records show Mr Robertson has contributed to just four parliamentary debates since being elected in May, including his oath of affirmation, and it had been suggested this could be what the “day job” part of Mr Russell’s tweet was referring to.
The term has also frequently been used against the SNP, with opposition parties calling on officials to focus on the “day job” of running the country rather than holding a second referendum on Scottish independence.
The SNP declined to comment on the situation.
However, a party source insisted Mr Russell was attempting to share examples of the trolling he received while publishing his own books when he replied by mistake.
The source said: “Michael was actually trying to send Angus examples of some of the baseless criticisms he had himself received in the past when publishing his own books, and tweeted one such example by mistake.
“He looks forward to reading Angus’s book – which was of course written before he was elected as an MSP in May.”
Lib Dem Scottish affairs spokeswoman Wendy Chamberlain doubled down on the suggestion Mr Robertson should focus on the day job.
She said: “Even the SNP president is wondering whether this is the best use of the culture secretary’s time.
“Scotland needs its senior politicians to be focused on the recovery from the pandemic, not Scottish independence or their literary careers.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Mr Robertson appropriately declared that he had written this book before he was appointed as a Scottish minister and there is no breach of the Ministerial Code.
“Any subsequent promotional activity will be in his own time and no Scottish Government resources will be used.”