Nicola Sturgeon has condemned the “nasty, unpleasant fringe” of the Scottish independence movement.
The First Minister said that nastiness “exists everywhere” in politics, as she also criticised those on the pro-union side of the constitutional debate who take part in such behaviour.
And she said it is “one of the hardest” things to call it out when it is from your own side of politics.
However, the SNP leader stated it is a “disservice to the country” to pretend that the nastiness does not exist on both sides of the debate.
Sturgeon was speaking at an Edinburgh Festival Fringe event with journalist Graham Spiers on Wednesday.
“I believe fundamentally in democracy, in civilised respectful debate and about the fact that in Scotland, whatever direction we choose to go in as a country, it should be a collective decision to take through democratic means,” she said.
“There is a nasty, unpleasant fringe on the movement I represent, and there is a nasty, unpleasant fringe in the movement on the other side of that.
“I have no hesitation in calling out, condemning (it) – where it is people who are in the SNP – (and) ensuring we do not tolerate that.”
The First Minister outlined the need to call out nastiness across the political spectrum.
“One of the hardest things to do is to call that stuff out when it is on your own side. It’s easy to call it out when it is on the other side,” said Sturgeon.
“We all do a disservice to the country if we try to pretend that this is one way. It’s not. That nastiness exists everywhere in politics.”
Sturgeon was asked about the incident involving BBC journalist James Cook, who was subjected to abuse at the Conservative leadership hustings in Peth.
“I have a suspicion that, had I walked past these people that night, they would have hurled abuse at me as well, they would have called me a traitor,” she said.
“That kind of minority, on the fringes of the independence movement, think I am not a pure enough independence supporter. These people don’t represent me. They don’t speak for me.”