A SCOTS Tory MP has been accused of gross insensitivity after joking about Saddam Hussein in Iraq while condemning chemical weapon attacks by his latter day equivalent.

Ross Thomson claimed he was channelling his “inner dictator” while clowning on Saddam’s parade ground and sitting on his throne while on a fact-finding trip to Baghdad.

The Aberdeen South MP posted pictures of his antics on a private Facebook page alongside a smiling emoji in sunglasses, while publicly condemning Bashar Assad in Syria.

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Mr Thomson wrote: “Another terrific day in Iraq. I was able to channel my inner dictator with a visit to Sadam’s [sic] military parade ground The Swords of Qadisiyah (Victory Arch) and then sitting on Saddam’s throne at the British embassy”.

The SNP called his behaviour a “disgrace” and called for the Tories to discipline him.


Mr Thomson, 30, said he had not intended to cause offence, and accused the SNP of playing politics with a sensitive issue.

The Victory Arch, which Mr Thomson pretended to hold in his hands, was one of the most infamous symbols of his Saddam Hussein’s repressive 24-year regime.

The Iraqi president massacred around 5000 of his own people in the Kurdish town of Halabja in March 1988, by dropping nerve agents and mustard gas from aircraft.

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While he was joking about dictatorship on Facebook, Mr Thomson was on Twitter attacking the Syrian president for killing dozens of people in Douma in the same way on April 7.

In a video message, he said: “I’m here in Iraq, which neighbours Syria. I’m in the city of Baghdad, which is no stranger to conflict and violence. The civil population here are no strangers to brutal dictatorship, or the use of chemical weapons.”

He referred to “the most horrific images of innocent men, women and children” affected by chemical weapons “in a bid by the barbaric and quite simply evil Assad regime to maintain power and control in Syria”, and praised the military response by the UK, US and France.


Also on the trip to Baghdad were the Tory peer Lord McInnes of Kilwinning, the director of the Scottish Conservatives, and former LibDem MSP Lord Purvis of Tweed.

Gillian Martin, the SNP MSP for Aberdeenshire East, said: “Any politician appearing to glorify or trivialise the heinous atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein and his regime should be ashamed of themselves.

“Saddam Hussein oversaw an effective genocide of hundreds of thousands of Kurds, summary executions of political prisoners, the use of rape as a political weapon, state-sanctioned bodily disfigurement of those who disagreed with him and chemical attacks against his own people.

“For a Tory MP to be so crass on this latter point this week of all weeks is beyond belief. Ross Thomson may try and pass this off as a piece of ill-judged buffoonery – but his behaviour is a disgrace.

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“The Tories should take swift and appropriate action against Ross Thomson. Sitting idly by as one of their politicians treats the legacy of a brutal dictator as a joke would be completely unacceptable.”

A Scottish Labour source added: “Even for a Scottish Conservative, this is deeply hypocritical.

“The people of Aberdeen South deserve better than an MP who engages in such distasteful behaviour.

“When he is finished committing cultural and political insensitivities abroad, he should explain to his constituents why Theresa May bypassed parliament to launch an attack on the sort of regime he privately appears to think is a subject for comedy.”

Mr Thomson said: “There is absolutely no intention whatsoever to cause offence.

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“My views on Iraq and the value of UK intervention in the region are very clear.

“Britain and our allies liberated Iraqis from the prison that was life under Saddam. It was the right thing to do.

“I find it astonishing that Gillian Martin and the SNP, who refused to back UK action in the face of a heinous chemical weapon attack in Syria this week, want to make an issue of this. I would urge Ms Martin to visit the region herself and perhaps learn something about the Middle East.”