Ruth Davidson under fire over Conservative offenders

Ruth Davidson was under pressure last night to discipline a Tory councillor who has been struck from the teachers' register after posting insulting tweets describing Nicola Sturgeon as a 'drooling hag'.
Ruth Davidson with Kathleen Leslie, who posted offensive comments onlineRuth Davidson with Kathleen Leslie, who posted offensive comments online
Ruth Davidson with Kathleen Leslie, who posted offensive comments online

The Scottish Conservative leader was urged to “get her house in order” after it emerged yesterday that Kathleen Leslie, left, had agreed to be removed from the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s (GTCS) register.

Ms Leslie, who used to teach at Woodmill High School in Fife, posted a series of tweets attacking Ms Sturgeon, the SNP and its supporters during the build up to the 2014 independence referendum.

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Ms Sturgeon was described by her as a “wee fish wife”, “a walking horror show” and “wee Jimmy Krankie” while she was employed as a teacher by Fife Council. She also laid into the lottery-winning Weir family, who have donated millions to the Yes movement, ridiculing them as “uneducated fat f******”.

And she smeared almost half of those who voted by saying that “only a racist supports a Nationalist ideology”.
Ms Davidson has previously been praised after speaking out against the homophobic abuse she has suffered since becoming Tory leader in Scotland and has warned that growing levels of online hate could put women off a career in politics.

But she has also come under fire for failing to deal effectively with offenders within her own party.

Ms Leslie is the latest Conservative councillor to be criticised for online behaviour. Last month anger greeted the party’s decision to reinstate Stirling councillors Alastair Majury and Robert Davies after they were suspended for posting offensive tweets.

Cllr Majury was behind a twitter account that likened the SNP to the Nazis and Mr Davies tweeted racist jokes.

Last night a Conservative source said there would be no action taken against Ms Leslie on the basis that she had apologised for her tweets at the time.

A document released by the GTCS showed that a complaint had been made alleging her fitness to teach was impaired. A GTCS panel considered the complaint and determined there was a case to answer.

According to the GTCS, Ms Leslie chose not to challenge the complaint and in doing so admitted the allegations made against her “relating” to her fitness to teach.

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Yesterday a SNP spokesman said: “Kathleen Leslie’s online rants were spectacularly ill-judged and insulting.” He added: “This sort of behaviour has become a pattern in the Tories, with councillors and candidates across the country being caught posting bile online – but not being properly disciplined. The question remains, is Kathleen Leslie fit to be a councillor? Ruth Davidson desperately needs to get her house in order.”

Ms Leslie left her teaching post when she was elected councillor for Burntisland, Kinghorn and Western Kirkcaldy in May.

She then wrote to the GTCS and said she wanted to be removed from the teaching register, a move that was to lead to the end of her 16-year teaching career.

Cllr Leslie said: “During my years of teaching I was never under any scrutiny as regards my professionalism and performance in the classroom.

“I took my responsibilities very seriously and never allowed politics to intrude in the teaching environment.”

Ruth Davidson said: “These comments were clearly unacceptable. Ms Leslie apologised for them when they came to light and removed them from social media.

“I’ve made it clear that everyone representing the Scottish Conservatives must uphold the highest standards when in office.”