A TORY MSP has claimed Nicola Sturgeon saying she "detested" the Tories bordered on a hate crime.

Jeremy Balfour made the accusation on the BBC's Debate Night during a discussion about whether the language the First Minister used over the weekend was appropriate. 

The SNP leader said in an interview: “I detest the Tories. If the question to me is would I prefer a Labour government over a Tory government – I detest the Tories and everything they stand for – so it’s not difficult to answer that question.”

Balfour referred to the Scottish Government's Hate Crime Bill - which was passed last year - and said Sturgeon had got "pretty close" to breaking the legislation. 

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He said: "We have an absolute right to criticise any policy brought forward by any government and you can tell us and tell everyone how that has affected you either positively or negatively.

"Where I think we have to draw a line is when we start attacking individuals, because we have seen in this country in very recent times politicians being attacked, politicians being killed, because they’ve been [part of] a certain political party.

"We’ve passed legislation – I don’t think it’s particularly good legislation – about hate crime. I think the First Minister got pretty close to breaking that legislation [with her comments about detecting Tories]."

The Hate Crime Bill - passed last March - updated the list of characteristics protected under hate crime legislation which now includes age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity, and variations in sex characteristics, as well as the 'stirring up' of hatred offences. 

Sturgeon said her comments referred to Tory policies and values rather than individuals and insisted she did not regret what she said. 

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An audience member said she was confused about what language was appropriate to describe a party that had caused "great harm" to the country.

She said: "What would you say the appropriate language is to use when referring to a political party that has caused great harm to this country? Not only economically but also about 250,000 deaths during the Covid pandemic by the horrendous public policies and their horrendous protection of the NHS staff.

"I don’t know how you appropriately say how horrendous the Tory party behaviour [is] and what they have done to the people of this country.

"Twenty-thousand people have died through austerity measures due to Tories, so how do I express how unhappy I am with what you have done to my personal bank account and to the people in this country?"