ONE of the SNP’s longest serving councillors has said he is willing to “accept the consequences” of campaigning for ousted candidate Neale Hanvey.

The comments came as Nicola Sturgeon urged members not to support the Westminster hopeful who was dropped by the party last week for sharing a Facebook post in 2016, which included an image of billionaire George Soros as a puppet master controlling world leaders.

He apologised for that saying he did not realise it was an anti-Semitic trope.

He also offered an “unequivocal apology” for a post that drew parallels between the treatment of Palestinians and that of Jews in the Second World War.

In a statement Hanvey said he hoped his “errors” could be used to “further understanding of anti-Semitic language”.

READ MORE: SNP, Labour and Tory candidates axed over alleged racism

Because the deadline for registering candidates has passed, Hanvey will still appear on the ballot paper as the SNP candidate. His suspension from the party means they won’t support him or pay for any campaigning materials.

However, a number of activists have come out to support Hanvey and a fundraiser set up on Saturday night smashed its £2000 target in less than 24 hours, and now sits at more than £4000.

The SNP’s George Kay, who was until 2017, Kirkcaldy’s longest serving councillor, has also thrown his weight behind Hanvey.

In a Facebook post, Kay said he was “faced with a dilemma” and that the charges came from a “darker group other than the SNP” – though he didn’t specify what or who that “darker group” is.

He wrote: “The party has been forced to take action against him on the grounds of anti-semitism. Not only are these charges absurd but behind them are other motivations which are much more sinister and led by a darker group other than the SNP. As I say I hold no problem with the party having to take the measures it did but I hope in the subsequent enquiry every aspect of this situation will be considered. “My dilemma is that if I support Neale Hanvey in the coming election I, like any other party member, could face action against their membership.“I could of course disguise my support by making oblique reference to the campaign and hope no one would notice.

“However, I think the honest thing would be to weigh my party membership of forty five years against the need to see a dedicated, responsible person represent us at Westminster.”

He added: “I have therefore come to the conclusion that regardless of what the personal consequences might be that I will be continuing to give my fullest support to Neale.”

Sturgeon called for local SNP supporters to campaign in neighbouring seats. “They’re not too far away from Stephen Gethins in North East Fife, for example, so there’s plenty of good candidates out there to get out and campaign for,” she said.

The First Minister also addressed speculation Hanvey had been axed because of his views on trans rights.

She said: “He was suspended because of the anti-Semitic comments he made and that is the long and short of it.”

Yes Kirkcaldy have also now thrown their weight behind Hanvey, despite initial claims they were supporting Rutherford.

The Green said he was disappointed that “some in Yes Kirkcaldy have ultimately decided that they will not back the only pro-independence party in the constituency at this election.”

He added: “The fact is the SNP suspended Neale Hanvey because of his views. As an inclusive, cross-party movement, independence supporters should be uniting behind the only remaining pro-indy party on the ballot.

“The Scottish Greens are already leading on the key issues in this constituency, calling for a just transition at Mossmorran and jobs at BiFab in Burntisland. As well as independence for Scotland, that is what I will continue to campaign hard on for the next nine days.”

Labour had been resigned to losing the seat held by the shadow secretary for Scotland Lesley Laird, who narrowly defeated the SNP’s Roger Mullin in 2017 by just 259 votes.

However, party sources are now hopeful she can hold on to the seat and buck the trend of falling Labour support across Scotland.