AN extraordinary war of words has broken out following the resignation of a Highland councillor from the SNP group.
Inverness South representative Ken Gowans announced his resignation on Tuesday, stating his personal views were no longer compatible with those of the SNP Highland group’s leadership.
It prompted an immediate personal attack from group leader, Councillor Maxine Smith, accusing her former colleague of being driven purely by personal ambition.
In turn, the Independent leader of the council, Councillor Margaret Davidson, rebuked the opposition leader’s statement as being extraordinarily personal and filled with political venom.
Councillor Gowans, who was re-elected in May’s council elections, will remain as a ward councillor. He is the fourth councillor to leave the Highland SNP group in less than two years.
In a statement, he said: "It is with great regret and a heavy heart that I have arrived at the conclusion that while I remain committed to the cause of independence for Scotland, I feel that my personal views and ethos are no longer compatible with those of the leadership of the SNP Highland group."
He said regrettably it meant he was also resigning from the party.
"After over 40 years of membership in the SNP, this is not a decision I have arrived at lightly," he said.
But Cllr Smith hit out, saying people had voted for Cllr Gowans as the SNP candidate.
"Ken has now shown he is definitely a politician driven purely by personal ambition," she said.
"Since he was first elected as an SNP candidate five years ago, he hasn’t missed an opportunity to try and pursue his own career goals."
Cllr Davidson hoped it was not a sign of how the SNP intended to operate on the council.
"The statement issued by opposition leader, Councillor Maxine Smith, is extraordinarily personal and demeaning for someone in her position," she said. "It is unnecessarily full of political venom."