NICOLA Sturgeon has called out misogyny dished out by “keyboard warriors” as she told those running in next year's Holyrood elections to expect abuse on social media.

The First Minister described those sending abuse to candidates as “cowards” and urged her fellow parliamentarians to offer support to those who are standing for the first time.

Sturgeon tweeted: “A shout out to everyone – in all parties – standing for s/election to @ScotParl for the first time.

“You will face abuse on here – especially if you have the temerity to be a woman and/or from one of our BAME communities.

“But stand strong and don’t be silenced… “Bullies are cowards and that’s just as true on social media as it is in real life.

“By putting yourself forward, you are already showing more guts than any keyboard warrior hurling abuse.

“And to my fellow ‘old timers’ in politics – we should have the backs of those who are not as inured to it as we are, and call out abuse on here when we see it, even when it’s from our own ‘side’.

“Disagreement is what democracy is all about – vile, toxic abuse is not.

Sturgeon highlighted the case of Anum Qaisar-Javed, who is seeking to represent Uddingston and Bellshill in the May 2021 Scottish Parliament elections.

She said: "Anum @AnumQaisarJaved is worth a million of the racists who abuse her. Those in our BAME communities who put themselves forward in politics - in all parties - get the most horrific abuse. We must stand with them and against the racists."

The FM also mentioned the case of Rhiannon Spear, who is seeking to represent Argyll and Bute next year.

Spears has previously spoken out in support of transgender rights and reform of the Gender Recognition Act, which has seen her targeted on social media.