RORY Stewart has been accused of having a “victim complex” after claiming the SNP “bullied” Unionists and accused them of “betraying” Scotland.

Michael Russell hit back at comments made by former Tory minister Rory Stewart on his podcast The Rest Is Politics, in which he said the SNP treated Unionists “as if we have very little right to speak about this and that we don’t understand Scotland and that we are somehow betraying the Scottish people”.

Stewart, who hosts the podcast with former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell (below), argued with his co-presenter over whether the Scottish Government had a “mandate” to hold a second referendum.

The National:

He said the SNP’s 2019 General Election results were not enough to justify holding a second vote on Scotland’s future but made no reference to the pro-independence majority secured in the 2021 Holyrood election.

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While conceding the SNP had picked up 45% of the vote, Stewart said this did not make up “the majority of the Scottish people”.

His comments were skewered on Twitter by nationalism researcher Mark McGeoghegan, who said: “Still no suggestion of what constitutes a democratic mandate, but Rory's implication - that only majority support for a single party does - was ridiculous.

“Has no UK Government since 1931 had a democratic mandate?”

Speaking on the podcast, released on Thursday, Stewart said: “I’m talking to you from Scotland and it is an incredibly fraught issue and people like myself, who are proud to be Scottish and are in Scotland are treated by the SNP as if we have very little right to speak about this and that we don’t understand Scotland and that we are somehow betraying the Scottish people because we’re not on their side.

“And I feel very, strongly that I and the majority of Scottish people expressed clearly in a referendum that we’re proud to be Scottish but we’re also proud to be part of the United Kingdom and we’re not going to be bullied and intimidated into feeling that in order to be Scottish you need to want to rip the United Kingdom apart.”

SNP chief Russell branded his comments “nonsense” and pointed out Stewart had been part of a government which “actively harmed” Scotland.

He told The National: “The kindest thing you could say about Rory is, he’s good at self-publicity.

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“This is nonsense. It’s perfectly possible to have a civilised conversation about this but it’s up to him to justify why he is backing things that are doing positive harm to Scotland.”

The Scottish Government says the 2021 Holyrood election result gives it a mandate to legislate to hold a second referendum.

Announcing the battle plan for indyref2 earlier this year, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted to take the argument out of the political sphere by sending the referendum bill to the Supreme Court, which will rule on whether it is lawful.

Russell added: “If he could prove himself to be a democrat then he might be worth listening to but this victim complex when he’s trying to argue against democracy devalues the whole thing.”