THE SNP were wrong to sack Joanna Cherry from their Westminster frontbench, according to the party's former communications chief.

Kevin Pringle said he didn't think it was "right or credible for Cherry to have gone from hero to zero" as he pointed to the praise she received both inside and outside the party for her successful work to stop Boris Johnson's prorogation of Parliament.

Cherry's dismissal last Monday as justice and home affairs spokeswoman for the SNP in the Commons prompted a furious backlash with the row now entering its second week, and with MP Neale Hanvey sacked yesterday from his front bench role over a related internal dispute.

READ MORE: Scottish independence: Inside story of the week that rocked the SNP

Pringle argued Cherry's removal from her post "needlessly generated hostile headlines" and exposed internal tensions over the independence strategy, the reform of the Gender Recognition Act and Alex Salmond in the run up to the Holyrood election, due in May.

He also warned that while opinion polls were recording high support for the SNP and independence, this backing "should be regarded as fragile" and may change at any moment.

"I don’t think it’s right or credible for Cherry to have gone from hero to zero — at least in terms of the SNP’s front bench — in less than a year and a half," he wrote the Sunday Times today.

"As one of the SNP’s best-known figures, Cherry’s ousting displayed the party’s divisions UK-wide, and needlessly generated hostile headlines.

"I appreciate that bad publicity isn’t everything, especially in the age of declining circulations and rampant social media, but it’s still something. Media coverage, in all its forms, still matters."

READ MORE: Joanna Cherry in 'pole position' to challenge Nicola Sturgeon for SNP leadership

He added: "The coverage the SNP is getting just now doesn’t have the look or feel of a party that is heading for an independence majority in May, whatever the reality.

"Despite overblown rhetoric by some pro-Union voices, Scotland isn’t a one-party state: we have five-party politics at Holyrood. The current dominance of the SNP was extremely hard won, building on the work of many years, and should always be regarded as fragile.

"I recall the late Billy Wolfe, a one-time party leader, citing the cautionary Durham proverb: when your cup is full, you have to hold it with a steady hand.

"The steadiness of the polls is pointed to as evidence that the problems are not feeding through to the public, but that’s only true thus far.

The National:

Kevin Pringle, the SNP's former communications director

"Support for the SNP is at extraordinary levels after 14 years in office, and independence is riding historically high. If one poll showed a dip, the narrative could change upon a single tweet."

Highlighting his article on Twitter last night, Pringle said: "Tomorrow’s @SundayTimesScot column - why I think @joannaccherry ’s dismissal from the SNP’s Westminster front bench was the wrong thing to do. #buyapaper."

Pringle, who is a former senior special adviser to Sturgeon and Salmond and is a board member of the grassroots independence organisation Voices for Scotland, noted Sturgeon's admiration for Cherry over the prorogation case.

He now works for Charlotte Street Partners, the consultancy headed by former MSP Andrew Wilson, chair of the SNP's Growth Commission, which updated the party's economic case for independence.

"Back in September 2019, Joanna Cherry QC MP was the SNP’s hero of the hour. She led the Scottish case against Boris Johnson suspending parliament for five weeks, at a time when he was struggling to get Brexit done, which the Court of Session ruled was 'unlawful' and intended to stymie MPs.

READ MORE: SNP's Neale Hanvey sacked after backing campaign to sue Kirsty Blackman

"When the UK Supreme Court upheld that position, Nicola Sturgeon tweeted a picture of the Scottish cabinet watching proceedings on TV, hailing it as 'the most significant constitutional judgment we’ve heard in our lifetimes."

Pringle's column was met with a strong response from Cherry supporters inside the SNP.

Inverclyde Councillor Chris McEleny tweeted: "Kevin is one of the independence movements most decent people. If this new SNP tent has MPs saying there’s no room for his wisdom inside it then there really is a problem."

Meanwhile, the SNP was plunged into fresh disarray yesterday with Hanvey's dismissal, after donating to a fund set up to sue another of the party's MP.

Hanvey retweeted Pringle's tweet highlighted his article.

READ MORE: Can the SNP restore calm to their ranks? We speak to people on both sides

The MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath paid into a crowdfunder to enable barrister Sarah Phillimore to sue Kirsty Blackman, the former deputy leader of the SNP at Westminster.

Phillimore, a feminist activist, has raised more than £20,000 from the crowdfunder.

She plans to take legal action against Blackman over comments that seemed to suggest Phillimore was an antisemite and a transphobe — claims that Phillimore vigorously denies.

Phillimore has accused critics of resorting to false statements about her in order to attack Cherry.

She said: “I am utterly disgusted by the behaviour of people in positions of power and influence. This isn’t just an attack on women for speaking out, it’s an attack on the democratic process and the rule of law. Women have a right to speak about issues of sex and gender. It is not ‘transphobic’ to do so.”

Blackman is understood to be taking legal advice.

Blackford had appointed Hanvey as the party’s vaccine spokesman in the Commons on Monday.

Hanvey is a member of the SNP’s internal conduct committee, which oversees disciplinary matters.

As well as donating to the fund created to sue his parliamentary colleague, Hanvey posted a supportive comment on the crowdfunder page calling on Phillimore to “speak clear and stay strong”.

The SNP said: “Neale Hanvey was given the opportunity to apologise for actions that are incompatible with the responsibilities of a frontbench spokesperson, including the requirement for teamwork and collective responsibility. He failed to do so and he has been removed from his position.”