Gillian Mackay hit out at the Conservatives in the Scottish Parliament, accusing them of trying to turn Holyrood’s debating chamber into a “Westminster-style circus”.
She went on to claim Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross is either the “architect” of this behaviour, or else has “lost all control” of Conservative MSPs at Holyrood.
Ms Mackay’s comments came as she criticised the Tories for trying to “filibuster” the recent debate on reforming the gender recognition process in Scotland, saying attempts to delay the Bill, which was eventually passed after two late-night sittings, showed “utter contempt” for both the Parliament and its members.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already accused the Conservatives of “deliberate attempts to filibuster, to delay and to frustrate the decision-making process” with regard to the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.
But Ms Mackay went further, saying “many female politicians” – herself included – had “found the culture in the chamber intimidating and disrespectful”.
She said: “The Tories may well shake their fists in faux outrage at this, but anyone who witnessed their most recent behaviour leading up to recess will have seen for themselves the increasingly toxic nature of their comments and utter contempt for proceedings.
“Douglas Ross has either finally lost all control of his MSP group, or he is the architect of this outrageous behaviour.”
And Ms Mackay insisted: “It must stop, otherwise the consequences for politics in Scotland and the reputation of our Parliament could be very damaging indeed.”
Speaking about Holyrood, Ms Mackay said: “Scotland should be proud of its Parliament and of all the good work that goes on, as we have seen for almost quarter of a century.
“It is modern, it is progressive and the complete antithesis of the broken husk of democracy Westminster has become.”
However, she added: “All these efforts are being undermined by the baying provocation and, quite frankly, misogynistic behaviour coming from mostly within the Scottish Tory ranks.
“Many female politicians, including myself, have found the culture in the chamber intimidating and disrespectful and we are trying to find the best way forward in addressing this increasingly worrying development.
“Sometimes it is almost impossible to follow what is happening because of their bellowing. It is as if they are trying to turn the chamber into a Westminster-style circus and none of us should have to accept that.”
However, Scottish Conservative MSP Pam Gosal claimed the Greens and SNP had been “intent on railroading their contentious GRR Bill through Parliament at breakneck speed before Christmas”.
As a result she said her party would “make no apology for subjecting this rushed legislation to as much parliamentary scrutiny as was possible”.
Ms Gosal said: “The Scottish Conservatives were the only party at Holyrood to give their members a free vote on this sensitive issue.
“While other parties tried to silence those in their ranks with legitimate concerns about the Bill, Scottish Conservative MSPs were free to speak up on behalf of the majority of the country.
“But we recognise this was a sensitive debate with passionately held views on both sides, which is why our MSPs always conducted it in a measured, tolerant, respectful fashion.
“In contrast, some of the most inflammatory language came from the Scottish Greens, who showed themselves to be totally intolerant of anyone who didn’t wholeheartedly back the Bill.”