DOUGLAS Ross was told to "grow up" by Anas Sarwar for turning a question on how to stamp out abusive behaviour into an attack about the Scottish Labour leader's stance on independence.

During the BBC's Scottish leaders' debate, the five party chiefs were asked about condemning hate online in the run-up to the May 6 election.

When asked to make a pledge to swiftly tackle any abusive behaviour going on throughout the election, taking place in the party’s name, Sarwar said “unequivocally yes”.

He continued: “We can’t pick and choose on these issues. I know from the women on the panel, from my own experience as an ethnic minority, we can’t pick and choose.

“It doesn’t matter where it comes from or who it is directed towards. Whether they’re on our side or a different side, we have a duty to condemn those perpetrators and show solidarity with the victims.

“That’s a cast-iron commitment from me.”

RECAP: The main points of Scotland's first leaders' debate of this Holyrood campaign

Ross attacked Sarwar's comments, saying Labour doesn't fight the SNP on the constitution question.

Sarwar said Ross know that he doesn't support independence, adding: "Let me respond to this because it's an issue we're talking about – prejudice in our society. Douglas, you know I don't support independence and you know I don't support a referendum but you are ... grow up. We're in the midst of a pandemic.

"Have you not noticed that 10,000 of our fellow citizens have lost their lives? Have you not noticed the scale of the challenge our country faces? And you come to this stage on the issue of prejudice and hate, when we are trying to come together as one, you can't help but bring in your own petty politics."

Nicola Sturgeon said she would speak out against abuse “whenever it needs to be called out”.

She said: “The experience of the pandemic in the last year has changed my perspective on some of this. Let’s rise to the occasion.

“Let’s all, not just in our rhetoric but how we behave, try to rise to the occasion of having civilised discourse. There is nothing wrong in a democracy with passionately disagreeing, that is the essence of democracy."