THE father of a Scottish Labour Holyrood candidate has been caught on camera ripping down SNP posters – just two hours after attending church.
A neck-and-neck race is currently underway in the constituency of Renfrewshire South – where Labour candidate Paul O’Kane is facing off with SNP rival Tom Arthur over a seat at Holyrood.
But Paul’s father, Frank O’Kane, has been caught on camera tearing down SNP posters with just four days to go to the election.
The two images were snapped by a passerby on Neilston Main Street, East Renfrewshire on Sunday afternoon – just hours after Mr O’Kane had attended church nearby.
They were immediately posted online, where they have provoked a strong reaction from outraged SNP supporters.
But Scottish Labour suggested Mr O’Kane’s actions were justified as the SNP should not be flyering on council-owned property.
The first of the images shows a man removing SNP posters featuring Nicola Sturgeon’s face from a railing – believed to be council property.
He can clearly be seen with a number of other posters under his arms.
The second appears to show him removing a poster from a shopfront – which is thought to be private property.
The young photographer – who asked not to be named – said: “Mr O’Kane was taking down SNP posters and putting them in the back of his car.
“He stopped beside a post because he forgot to take down one and put it in his boot. I saw someone talking to him but don’t know if they were arguing with him.”
The photographer’s mother, who was at the same church service as Mr O’Kane Snr, added: “I was surprised, because he was at church just two hours prior to that. He was just removing them from the railings etcetera.
“Labour hadn’t put any up – I don’t think they’ve got the cash. I just thought it was a bit wrong. We live in a small village so everybody knows everybody.
Asked their opinion, they said: “The same as anyone’s – it’s undemocratic.”
The photographs have stirred up a storm of outrage since being shared online on Sunday afternoon.
On Twitter one user said: “I do hope he is made to put each and every poster back again.”
Another messaged Paul O’Kane online, asking: “Is that really your father taking down posters? Hope not, as that would be really underhand.”
One more said: “Disgraceful – why should anyone vote for you now?”
Asked about the online pictures of him taking down the posters, Mr O’Kane Snr said: “I am not willing to speak to the press at all.”
A Labour party spokesman backed Mr O’Kane in a statement today.
He said: “This photograph shows a poster affixed to street furniture in clear contravention of the ban on election notices and posters that exists in East Renfrewshire.
“The SNP must explain why they are so blatantly breaching local election rules. Any further breaches will be reported to the returning officer and the posters will be removed.”
An East Renfrewshire Council spokeswoman said that the job of removing posters put up on council property should be organised by the council.
She said: “East Renfrewshire Council has a policy whereby no political posters are permitted on any council street furniture such as street lamps.
“The process for their removal is that where any posters are identified the council will contact the relevant party to ask them to remove the posters or our environment services department would remove them on behalf of the party and charge for this service.”
An SNP spokesman added: “This just shows how desperate Labour are getting.
“The SNP will continue to run a positive campaign to re-elect Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister – perhaps Labour should spend less time taking down SNP posters and explain why they’re offering the lowest NHS spending of any party in this election.”