THE leader of Inverclyde Council has criticised Labour leadership candidate Emily Thornberry after she said she 'hated' the SNP at a hustings event.

Stephen McCabe insisted his fellow party member’s comments were 'unacceptable'.

The shadow foreign secretary also branded the SNP as 'Tories wrapped up in nationalist clothing' and said they 'pretended to be on the left'.

Councillor McCabe said he could not defend the remarks and urged her to reflect on her choice of language.

Mr McCabe said: “I think it is unacceptable language.

“There is hate in politics unfortunately.

"The most difficult time in my political life was during the independence referendum.

"I faced a lot of abuse.

“So I’ve been on the receiving end of hate and I do not think it’s the type of language a democratically elected politician should be using about other democratically elected politicians, whatever frustrations you might have.”

The hustings audience had laughed at Ms Thornberry's response, but Cllr McCabe said he didn’t find the comments amusing.

He added: “If someone in another party was saying they hated my party that would be unacceptable, and so is this.

“Just because it’s someone from the Labour party who has said it, we should not defend it.

“I do not think someone who is aspiring to be leader of the party should be using that language.

"She should be setting an example.

“She might have thought it would go down well at a hustings event but nothing is private anymore and I would encourage her to reflect on what she said.

“We can have strong views on the SNP but, at the end of the day, I do not think it’s acceptable to use that language.”

Ms Thornberry has subsequently said sorry, asking the House of Commons for a 'brief moment to apologise to colleagues on the SNP benches for the language I used in the heat of hustings'.