MSP hopefuls from the Alliance For Unity (A4U) party, founded by George Galloway, have been engaging in sustained attempts to paint the SNP as “Nazis” and Nicola Sturgeon as a “fascist dictator”.

The slurs include one Holyrood candidate affiliated with the party promoting suggestions the SNP will make Unionists wear a “badge to identify them”, like “another nationalist party”.

A4U are a grouping of people with varying political allegiances that hope to stop pro-independence parties gaining a majority in May’s Holyrood election. Leader Galloway has also been promoting falsehoods about connections between the SNP and Nazis.

In December, he tweeted a debunked conspiracy theory that the SNP had taken their logo from a rune meaning “blood and family” which has been widely used by Nazis and neo-Nazis. The SNP’s logo is a stylised combination of a Saltire and a thistle.

David Griffiths, A4U’s candidate on the West of Scotland list, retweeted a post which claimed Nicola Sturgeon is a “fascist dictator destroying our freedoms”. Elsewhere, he has engaged with the idea that under the SNP, Scotland is “moving towards a nationalist fascist state faster than Germany did in the 1930s”.

The National:

He also liked a post that referenced the Holocaust, asking in an independent Scotland: “What sort of badge will Unionists have to wear to identify them? A lot of options have already been used by another nationalist party.”

Griffiths, who is also the party’s constitution spokesperson, is described on the A4U website as “an experienced political analyst and a formidable debater”. He did not respond to The National’s request for comment and has since deleted the posts.

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The official A4U twitter account has also engaged in the rhetoric.

Responding to Nicola Sturgeon’s acceptance of BrewDog founder James Watt’s offer of aid with the Covid vaccine roll-out, one Twitter account with the handle Edinburgh4Unity wrote: “Nationalists in ‘Bier Halls’. Where have we heard that before? What can possibly go wrong?”

The National:

The account, which tags A4U in its biography, added a link to the Wikipedia article about the 1923 Munich Putsch, Adolf Hitler’s failed coup which saw the leader imprisoned and left 20 dead. A4U’s official account retweeted this post.

READ MORE: Alliance for Unity candidate: Scottish Government is 'inflating' Covid-19 cases

The Edinburgh4Unity account frequently compares the SNP and Scottish independence movement to Nazis, including suggestions that Nicola Sturgeon’s “operational manual” is Hitler’s Mein Kampf. The latter has since been deleted.

Another post from the account says that the global chair of public health at Edinburgh University, professor Devi Sridhar, is one of the “most problematic” people that they find “sexy”.

Galloway and Griffiths both interact with this account with relative frequency.

One post which Griffiths re-shared said the SNP are both “anglophobic and antisemitic [sic]” and their “foundations are firmly rooted in Nazi ideology”. The MSP candidate commented: “Bravo!”

The National:

However, A4U deny Edinburgh4Unity is affiliated with their party, and say they cannot be held to account for what their supporters may write.

Commenting previously on issues affecting Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, Galloway wrote: “The effort, reaching a crescendo, to paint Labour as a nascent Nazi party is absurd, offensive and actually highly dangerous.”

Asked if the A4U supported the rhetoric being used by its supporters and MSP candidates to paint the SNP as “a nascent Nazi party”, a spokesperson told The National: “The SNP was founded by notorious Nazi sympathisers some of whom were interned during the war. Some of those – including internees – are still exalted in the SNP like Arthur Donaldson and Christopher Grieve.”

The National:

The statement that the SNP was founded by Nazi sympathisers has no basis.

Arthur Donaldson was the SNP leader in the 1960s and was interned by the UK Government for six weeks in 1941. Donaldson was a pacifist running a committee helping Scots to avoid conscription.

Christopher Grieve, more commonly known as Hugh MacDiarmid, was a poet and communist who wrote that the French and English bourgeoisie were “a far greater enemy” than the "violently evil" Nazis in Germany as it would be “infinitely more difficult to get rid of them”.

Asked if, should they be elected, Galloway, Griffiths or other A4U candidates would bring this rhetoric around Nazism into Holyrood, the party said the candidates would be sitting as independents, and it would be up to them what to say in Parliament.

A4U’s spokesperson added: “The links between the SNP and Nazism are fully explored in scholarly literature.”

Asked to provide evidence of this “scholarly literature” and to explain its conclusions, the A4U declined.

READ MORE: Alan Riach: Hugh MacDiarmid and the Brownsbank years

When The National searched several online academic databases, the only relevant result found was an article penned by Gerry Hassan in 2014 on the ProQuest database. It opened: “Ever more attempts to link the SNP to fascism and Nazism are a ludicrous sign of desperation.”

Hassan went on: “It seems strange to judge the SNP of the present day by the outlook of some of its members then, because no one demands such standards from the mainstream Westminster political parties.

“No one defines today's Conservatives by the pro-Nazi opinions of some leading members then, or Labour by the fact that Oswald Mosley was a Labour MP before he became leader of the British fascists.”