Tory MSP comes under fire for “ignorant” tweet

Borders Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton has come under fire from her constituents after posting a tweet claiming most SNP members didn’t “have a clue” about the stress of running a business because they have never owned one.

Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 11:03 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 11:43 am
Rachael Hamilton, MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, who has come under fire for a tweet she posted on her social media page last week.

Sharing a Times Online story about businesses being “frustrated” at the caution displayed by first minister Nicola Sturgeon in coming out of lockdown, Mrs Hamilton said: “Problem is, most politicians, especially SNP members have never owned or worked in a business, so, don’t have the first clue about the stress, heartache and financial ruin business owners are experiencing. Industry lobby voices are falling on deaf ears.”

The comment incensed many who let her know about their feelings, with more than 1,700 people replying to the tweet.

One, SNP MSP Paul Wheelhouse, replied: “Your tweet is a display of ignorance of the highest order, Rachael. Not your finest hour. I would suggest, as others have done, that you reflect on how prejudiced it was. BTW, if you & your own party cared so much about business, you wouldn’t be dragging the (Flag of Scotland emoji) into Brexit chaos!”

His SNP colleague, Angus MacDonald, MSP for Falkirk added: “Really Rachel? I think you need to step back from the keyboard. I’ve been involved in my family’s businesses – farming, livestock auctioneering and wholesale and retail butchering, not to mention a tractor dealership I started when I was 19. Reconsider your tweet – please!”

Another user, Rhoda Miller, wrote: “Wow! People are dying, or being left with life changing conditions. This is a pandemic, not a man-made crisis, and yes, businesses are suffering, but to blame SNP MSPs for that is beneath contempt. Brexit, on the other hand...”

Mhairi Hunter said: “Everyone understands it but you can’t change what the risk factors are.”

And David Hulme added: “Jeezo, what a sweeping untrue generalisation. You simply must be wrong because 1/2 the population votes SNP or Green atm.”

She did find some support amongst her replies, with Jenifer Strang saying: “Good point, well made.” and Colin Dodds saying: “I have heard the most ardent SNP supporters turning against Nicola Sturgeon. She could do no wrong couple of months ago but now the tide is turning.”

While the vast majority of the replies to her tweet appeared to be from people who found it offensive, Mrs Hamilton stood by it this week, saying she had, in turn, been “subjected to the vitriol of the galvanised Twitter trolls who completely misinterpreted my tweet”.

She told us yesterday: “It was well established when the current SNP 2016 intake were elected, there was a lack of representation from business amongst their MSPs.

“My tweet refers to SNP members in the context of Parliament; Members of the Scottish Parliament.

“I was subjected to the vitriol of the galvanised Twitter trolls who completely misinterpreted my tweet.

“Andrew Wilson, the former SNP MSP and economist behind Nicola Sturgeon’s fiscal plans for independence even predicted that Scotland’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will be the worst in the developed world.

“Just today we have seen Benny Higgins from the Scottish Government’s Economic Advisory Group highlighting that the SNP must engage more with businesses.

“The lack of engagement with business from the SNP is there to see.”