A backlash erupted on social media after land reform expert and former Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman was mocked over a struggle to find paid work.
The ex-politician revealed his employment problems since exiting Holyrood last year at the Scottish Parliament election.
Mr Wightman had been elected in Lothian as a Green MSP in 2016 – but left the party and became an independent following a row over the way debate on transgender rights was being conducted.
He stood on his own in the Highlands and Islands region last May, but lost out.
‘I’d be grateful for any opportunities’
The former MSP – who studied at Aberdeen University and is well-known for his land reform work – said it was his “New Year challenge” to find more paid work this year.
He wrote: “Having had only four days paid work since May 2021, I’d be grateful for any opportunities folk might know about.”
But Green party members and workers tore into him on Twitter as they criticised Mr Wightman’s stance in what has become a toxic row over gender identity, women’s rights and freedom of speech.
A party worker wrote: “Never been prouder of the human race than learning that no one will pay him, almost gives you hope.”
One Green election candidate said Mr Wightman has “betrayed” friends and colleagues.
“I think it’s actually fine for people to make fun of you,” the comment continued.
Working with Andy on the local government and communities committee was a brilliant experience.
– Monica Lennon MSP
Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater were both silent on the matter in the hours after the backlash.
Mr Wightman received support on social media from Holyrood and Westminster politicians from several different parties.
Labour’s Monica Lennon said: “Working with Andy on the local government and communities committee was a brilliant experience. His support for the Period Products Bill was invaluable.
“We also collaborated on making the planning system more equal, which I reflected on yesterday when this landed in my inbox.”
Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston said: “What a thoroughly unpleasant lot. And includes a mocking reply from at least one person who works for a Scottish Greens MSP.”
SNP MSP Joanna Cherry said: “Time for Scottish politics to get out of the gutter and up its game. Andy Wightman is a huge loss to Scottish politics and our parliament is the poorer for his absence.”
Mr Wightman detailed why he resigned from the Scottish Greens last August in a blog post on his website.
He claimed that he faced being forced to resign by the party if he voted in favour of legislation related to sexual assault.
After his resignation, the ex-Green said he was branded “disgusting” by one colleague while others accused him of being a transphobe.
‘Lies and misinformation’
Mr Wightman also claimed that party members had spread “lies and misinformation” about him in the aftermath of his departure.
The ex-MSP thanked followers late last night for their support after he revealed his job struggles.
The keen activist had been an environmental campaigner for decades before he finally joined the Greens and stood for them in Parliament.
He is the co-funder of a Scottish environment charity and wrote several books on land reform.
The Scottish Greens were contacted for comment.
Thanks for all the feedback (well most of it). Most grateful. Will reply asap to those who were kind enough to provide helpful responses. Have plenty ideas myself & some outline plans. Was merely seeking some tips & pointers.
— Andy Wightman (@andywightman) January 6, 2022