THE Scottish Parliament’s most senior figure has blasted Labour over anti-semitism by claiming the party is “unwilling” to deal with prejudice faced by Jews.

Ken Macintosh, who left Labour after becoming Holyrood’s Presiding Officer, also criticised the “disproportionate” number of motions tabled by MSPs that are hostile to Israel.

A Scottish Tory spokesman said: “Labour’s attitude to anti-semitism both at UK and Scottish level has been appalling. The leadership just isn’t serious about tackling this issue. It’s no wonder respected individuals like Ken Macintosh are speaking out.”

Labour has faced a barrage of criticism over the anti-semitic views expressed by some members, as well as the way in which complaints have been handled.

Some of the allegations involved party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who apologised after defending the free speech of an artist behind an anti-semitic mural.

Cases involving Scottish Labour members have also hit the headlines and a key organisation north of the border, the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC), warned that some Jews were considering emigrating.

Macintosh, who as Presiding Officer is the Holyrood equivalent of House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, has been an MSP since 1999.

He sat on the Labour benches until 2016, after which he was voted as Presiding Officer by MSPs. He gave up his party card as the high-profile post, which involves chairing Parliament, requires neutrality.

A report by the Jewish Chronicle newspaper last week revealed comments made by Macintosh during a meeting with SCoJeC, which he described as a “very effective organisation, doing a very difficult job”. He added that the rise in antisemitism was “perplexing, disturbing, and extremely worrying”.

On Labour, he said: “It’s upsetting that my former party [Labour] seems unable or unwilling to face up to or deal with antisemitism. There is a spectrum of views – opposition to the Israeli government, opposition to Israel itself, and opposition to Jews.

“The question is how to break the cycle. Getting people to talk respectfully to one another rather than shout is the first step.”

Macintosh also contrasted the high number of anti-Israel motions in the Scottish Parliament – 26 about Gaza - with four “casting Israel in a positive light”.

The Jewish News publication reported Macintosh saying that he understood “how this can spill over into being anti-Jewish”.

Labour did not provide a comment.

In August last year, Renfrewshire Labour councillor Jim Sheridan, who was previously an MP, was suspended after making an allegedly anti-semitic comment.

He wrote: "For all my adult life I have had the utmost respect and empathy for the Jewish community and their historic suffering.

"No longer due to what they and their Blairite plotters are doing to my party and the long-suffering people of Britain who need a radical Labour government." Sheridan was later reinstated.

One of the party's Fife councillors, Mary Lockhart, was also suspended last year after suggesting in a Facebook post that headlines critical of Labour's position could be the work of the Israeli security services. Her suspension was later lifted.