A SENIOR Scottish Tory MSP has been accused of showing a “callous indifference” to inequality after sharing an online message about wealth distribution and benefits.

Michelle Ballantyne, her party’s shadow social security secretary, endorsed a Facebook post insisting “you cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity”.

The SNP condemned the comments as “completely heartless”.

Ms Ballantyne has been floated as a potential Scottish Tory leadership candidate, but has a history of making controversial comments.

The Facebook message she shared, first reported in the Daily Record and initially posted by another user, outlined what it called the “five best sentences”.

HeraldScotland: The post shared on FacebookThe post shared on Facebook

These included: “What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

“The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

“You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

“When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work, because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation!”

The post asked: “Can you think of a reason for not sharing this? Neither could I.”

SNP MSP Christine Grahame said: "Michelle Ballantyne has a long track record of outrageous comments – she is completely out of touch with the real lives of people on low incomes.

"This latest outburst shows a callous indifference to the very real suffering inflicted on people by her own party. 

"That Michelle Ballantyne is in the running to lead the Tories speaks volumes. The mask has well and truly slipped, and the party has a duty to address these completely heartless comments."

Labour MSP Mark Griffin said it was “disappointing but not surprising that a Conservative MSP would take this stance on our social security system”.

Ms Ballantyne previously caused uproar after she said poor people on benefits cannot have as many children as they like.

Defending the two-child limit on tax credits during a Holyrood debate, the mother-of-six said: "The two-child limit is about fairness.

“It is fair that people on benefits cannot have as many children as they like while people who work and pay their way and do not claim benefits have to make decisions about the number of children they can have.

“Fairness means fairness to everybody, not to one part of the community."

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “Michelle believes any welfare system has to help those who need it most, and be fair and affordable.”