ALEX Rowley has criticised UK Labour leadership hopeful Emily Thornberry for saying she “hates the SNP”.

The Scottish Labour frontbencher spoke out after the shadow foreign secretary made the remark at a party hustings.

“I think it was a really ill considered comment and is not where our politics or politicians should be,” he told The National.

“I am sure if Emily reflects on what she said she will be regretful given there should be no place for hate in our politics and our democracy.”

The senior MSP’s daughter Danielle Rowley is Thornberry’s campaign manager and lost her Westminster seat to the SNP at the General Election. But Alex Rowley indicated he didn’t share Thornberry’s stance.

Asked if he hated the SNP, Rowley, Scottish Labour’s spokesman on Brexit and the constitution, said: “There is no place for hate in our democracy so I don’t hate full stop.”

Thornberry provoked laughter at the hustings with the controversial comment where she also described the SNP as “Tories wrapped up in nationalist clothing”.

Speaking at the Open Labour Winter Conference and Leadership Hustings on Sunday at Nottingham Trent University city campus, her outburst was caught on camera.

It followed a question which asked: “Do you agree that the SNP’s record in government is bad and this attitude amongst members is both wrong and damaging to Labour’s chances in Scotland?”

Thornberry said: “I hate the SNP. I hate the SNP.” She continued: “I think they’re Tories wrapped up in nationalist clothing. I think they pretend to be on the left and they’re not on the left.”

Nicola Sturgeon yesterday intervened and called for people to “dial down the hate”. She said: “I think, generally speaking, hate is not a good emotion in politics or anywhere else. Particularly perhaps in the world and the climate we live in now, I think all of us should maybe try and dial down the hate a little bit.

“But more generally I think Labour look like lost souls when it comes to Scotland and perhaps they should consider – I don’t know whether they ever do consider – how that kind of statement sounds to people in Scotland who, in such large numbers, vote SNP and think the SNP is the party most progressive and best able to meet their interests and needs.”

Rowley is the most senior Scottish Labour figure to criticise Thornberry’s remark. The Labour leader of Inverclyde Council Stephen McCabe was also critical. “This type of language is unacceptable from anyone but particularly from someone who aspires to lead the Labour Party...,” he tweeted.

Former Labour MP Mark Lazarowicz also disagreed with Thornberry.

“Most SNP people I come across (MPs and others) are clearly on the centre or left with broadly progressive, most often social democratic, sometimes socialist views. They have differing views how best to achieve that, but to say they are Tories in disguise is absurd,” he tweeted.

“I also believe these comments are wrong because in face of current right wing advances there needs to be at least some cooperation and understanding amongst all progressives. And from a purely narrow Labour perspective, this is not the way to win back Scottish votes from SNP!”