LABOUR councillors have been accused of continually engaging in “childlike hypocrisy” after derailing a meeting by complaining about an SNP member displaying a Yes flag.

The Labour group on Renfrewshire Council interrupted the full council agenda last week to ask the SNP’s Kenny MacLaren to take down a Saltire with the word “Yes” on it which was hanging up behind him as he dialled in from home.

It now turns out the Labour group displayed a Union flag in the window of their council offices five years ago, a few years after ordering the then opposition SNP group to take down a Saltire in the same window while Labour were in administration.

During the debacle last week – when MacLaren refused to take down his flag –Labour group leader Iain McMillan said they would be looking into how they could do something about elected members displaying political symbols during meetings, with a lawyer pointing out they could complain to the Standards Commission if they wished.

MacLaren insisted the Labour group were now seeing the Yes flag as a threat and he had received lots of messages of support for his defiance.

He said: “They’re [Labour] are being hypocritical and childlike.

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“Before the referendum, I used to turn up to the chambers wearing a Yes Scotland t-shirt and there was never a disguise I was voting Yes, and I always wear an SNP lanyard with my council pass, and there’s plenty of Labour councillors who do the same. There’s a lot of Labour councillors who sit in the chamber with Labour lapels on.

“I think they see it a bit more of a threat now perhaps. It’s a political symbol and if you’re worried about political symbols then perhaps you should get involved in politics. It seems childish.

“I've been receiving quite a lot of messages of support including a few people highlighting the employment tribunal of Chris McEleny where the judge said that support for independence was a philosophical belief and as such was protected under the Equalities Act 2010.

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“Interesting times if BritNat councillors want to take this to the Standards Commission or if council officers think they can invent a policy to stop anyone displaying political banners in their own home.”

Back in 2019, Inverclyde SNP councillor McEleny – who is now general secretary of the Alba party – was suspended from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and had his security clearance revoked after announcing his candidacy for the party’s depute leadership post in 2016.

The electrician, who worked for the MoD in Beith, North Ayrshire, was quizzed by security officials about supporting independence, opposing the Trident nuclear system and his mental health.

McEleny, who was reinstated months later, took the MoD to a specialist tribunal alleging unfair treatment. Judge Frances Eccles agreed his independence views constituted a philosophical belief and should be protected under the Equality Act 2010.

During the full council meeting fallout, Labour councillor Alison Ann-Dowling branded MacLaren’s explanation for having the flag up as “bullsh**” before Tory councillor David McGonigle tried to have the meeting pulled altogether because of the apparently unsavoury symbol.

Despite their complaints, a council lawyer said there was nothing that could be done beyond requesting MacLaren take the flag down.