IT’S hard to be shocked at just how heartless a Scottish Tory can be. After all, they have so much previous. But their callousness reached new lows when Michelle Ballantyne shared a post on social media attacking benefits claimants.

The MSP for South Scotland, who has a history of making controversial comments about people claiming social security, shared a message on Facebook questioning why wealthy people should pay for the poor and unemployed.

Sparking outrage, Ballantyne has been slammed for sharing the “callous” and “heartless” message.

SNP MSP Christine Grahame said: “Michelle Ballantyne has a long track record of outrageous comments - she is completely out of touch with the real lives of people on low incomes.

“This latest outburst shows a callous indifference to the very real suffering inflicted on people by her own party.”

Ballantyne was elected to Holyrood in 2016 and is her party’s shadow cabinet secretary for communities and social security.

Amid rising poverty levels in Scotland, the post, which had been published by someone else, made five statements:

  • You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
  • What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
  • The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
  • You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work, because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation!
  • Can you think of a reason for not sharing this? Neither could I.

Ballantyne caused an outcry last year after defending the Tory Government’s two-child benefits cap, which critics say has driven families into poverty.

She said at the time: “It is fair that people on benefit cannot have as many children as they like while people who work and pay their way and don’t claim benefits have to make decisions about the number of children they can have.”

Ballantyne, who is a mother-of-six and confirmed claiming tax credits in the past, later said: “There’s no such thing as a bedroom tax.”

She is being tipped as a candidate in the race to succeed Ruth Davidson as leader, and Tory moderates fear her outspoken views would be popular with party members.

Grahame added: “That Michelle Ballantyne is in the running to lead the Tories speaks volumes. The mask has well and truly slipped, and the party has a duty to address these completely heartless comments.”