THE Labour Party brand is likely to be damaged after they were forced to suspend a Scottish candidate in a key target seat, an expert has claimed.

Professor Jennifer Lees-Marshment, a political marketing expert at the University of Dundee, said the recent suspension of Wilma Brown as the Cowdenbeath and Kirkcaldy candidate will damage the party’s chances of winning the seat from Alba’s Neale Hanvey, even if she is removed as a candidate following a probe.

And given the suspension follows that of a Labour Glasgow councillor earlier this week and others in England, she believes the accumulation of incidents is building up a picture of “a party that isn’t quite what it says it is” and raises serious questions about its selection process.

Labour have been projected to take the Cowdenbeath and Kirkcaldy seat in a recent poll.

Brown – who deleted her personal Twitter account after her behaviour was exposed by The National – was suspended by Labour on Wednesday after she was found to have liked and reposted a swathe of offensive tweets which were deemed “racist and Islamophobic”.

As well as sharing posts that said Scottish Government aid was being given to Hamas and false claims it was not “a coincidence” Humza Yousaf’s family were able to leave Gaza, she liked a racist post telling an Indian man who was expressing his love for England and its flag “you will NEVER be an Englishman” and “it is not your flag”.

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Lees-Marshment said the incident – along with other candidate suspensions across the UK –  would put doubt in the minds of Cowdenbeath and Kirkcaldy residents about Labour’s integrity.

She told The National: “Assuming the suspension is upheld, it’s going to be really hard for any new candidate coming in in the time period between now and the election to build up momentum unless they are a well-known, popular figure.

“Then [the other issue is] it’s just that sense of low integrity behaviour by the Labour Party. It’s happened to other candidates in the rest of the UK, so there may be a sense of ‘are there lots of candidates selected by Labour that have hidden issues?’

“That will be on the minds of Scottish people in this constituency. They’re seeing a spread of problems from England through to Scotland and it just damages the party’s ability to be seen as the future, better government.

“It raises questions about Labour’s selection processes because ideally they should review candidates’ social media.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar defended the party’s vetting process on Times Radio when he was asked why Brown had not been sacked.

The National:

He claimed she went through a “full due diligence process” in selection and had been viewed as a “phenomenal” local candidate.

While Lees-Marshment (above) acknowledged Labour acted swiftly to suspend Brown, she insisted the party brand would still be undermined.

Earlier this week, Labour also had to suspend Glasgow councillor Audrey Dempsey over her offensive social media posts and her intense focus on “anti-white racism”, which she claims is on the rise.

The National revealed she had liked a tweet which asked whether the burqa – a full-body gown worn by some Muslim women which leaves only a small slit for the eyes – should be banned and one which said that “white lives don’t matter to the political class, media or justice system”.

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Labour has also suspended candidates in England in recent months. Rochdale by-election candidate Azhar Ali and Hyndburn candidate Graham Jones were suspended by Keir Starmer after claims emerged they made antisemitic remarks about Israel at a Labour meeting.

Lees-Marshment said the string of incidents could mean people start questioning whether Labour is really ready for government.

She added: “Labour has had four or five years to prepare for an election to come in and run the country if they are elected, and they’ve got all these issues with the people they are selecting.

“So it then goes beyond the specific incident to damage the Labour Party brand, which is created and changed over a long period.

“One candidate behaving badly and being suspended is one issue, but when you have several candidates over a period leading up to an election, at a time when they are supposed to be ready for government, then it damages the overall brand and integrity.

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“It creates a sense the organisation to which they [the candidate] belong is not professional. It’s building an image of a party that isn’t quite what it says it is.

“In Labour’s defence they did act swiftly to suspend her, but it undermines their brand to be supposedly more egalitarian, inclusive and diverse.”

Lees-Marshment added Starmer’s brand would be damaged by the fact Brown was pictured campaigning with him in Kirkcaldy last year, about a month after she was selected.

Elsewhere on her social media, Brown shared posts calling for the abolition of the Scottish Parliament or for it to be placed "under special measures by the British Government".