THE SNP leader of Scotland’s largest council has been accused of presiding over a culture of “bullying and harassment” by a colleague who resigned in protest.

Glasgow City councillor Glenn Elder resigned from the SNP this morning after making a series of damning claims about leader Susan Aitken, a close ally of Nicola Sturgeon.

He said there was “mistrust” among SNP councillors, and poisonous briefings against those who challenged the leader, who he accused of “promoting a hostile environment”.

Labour said it was “very damaging” for Ms Aitken, who has led the council since 2017.

Mr Elder confirmed his resignation on Twitter, writing: “It is with sincere regret that I confirm that I am resigning from the SNP today to sit as an Independent Councillor.”

A councillor for Linn Ward on the city’s southside, Mr Elder wrote a resignation letter to Ms Aitken in which he said her administration had “lost focus” and descended into infighting.

He said he had been concerned about a lack of “unity” in the group ever since his election two years ago, and claimed many other SNP councillors felt undervalued and ignored.

He said: “There is an an atmosphere of mistrust amongst members within the group, members briefing against members and many who do not feel valued or consulted in any decisions or allowed to participate in open debates that would help set the political direction of our administration.

HeraldScotland:

“This being one of the key elements of your election promise to the city as part of our manifesto commitment to transparency and accountability.

“An example would be P1 testing and the apparent disregard for the majority of the council chamber showing a lack of respect for the democratic decision made there.

“Attempts to raise these concerns have been dismissed, you have sought to ensure the compliance of the group by promoting a hostile environment.

“Any contrary view leads to an attack on the dissenter’s credibility, often employing innuendo and unmerited accusations. Any criticism of direction is responded to with unconcealed hostility, promoted by you and those close to you.”

He said he felt he had “no choice other than to resign the whip and my SNP membership”.

He added: “I still fully believe in the core tenet of the SNP, that of an independent Scotland.

“Sadly, I cannot, now, be a member of a group that I believe has lost that particular focus, deviating towards personal agendas and being prepared to use bullying and harassment in order to ensure obedience.

“When I was elected to represent the Linn Ward in 2017 I stood to be open and transparent, as a result this letter will be sent to all elected members of the council.

“I hope others will stand by that pledge in the future.”

Frank McAveety, the leader of the Labour opposition on the council, said: “I want to congratulate our colleague Glenn Elder on standing up to bullying and harassment.

“This cannot have been an easy decision for him. His contribution to the City is appreciated across the Chamber.

“In his letter, he has laid bare a culture of bullying and harassment. This is deeply concerning. For an administration that campaigned on transparency and openness, the revelations today are very damaging.

“Susan Aitken and the SNP must reflect seriously on these concerns, and consider the future of this administration.”

Glasgow Tory MSP Annie Wells said: "Mr Elder has shown considerable courage in speaking out but his extraordinary comments will only add to the growing concerns about the way the SNP is managing Scotland’s largest city.

“The bottom line is that Susan Aitken’s SNP administration is failing the city.

“As leader of her party and as a local MSP, Nicola Sturgeon needs at the very least to ask what is going on.”

An SNP spokesperson said: "We thank Cllr Elder for his service to the SNP since he was elected to represent the Linn Ward in 2012. 

"We don’t recognise the characterisation of the group and it is unfortunate that his decision has come after a reshuffle.”