IT SHOULD come as no surprise that the SNP’s hate crime legislation has provoked anger and confusion.

My party warned against this dangerous legislation when it was debated in the last parliamentary session.

Despite the Conservatives warning it breached freedom of speech – and would absorb the resources of our already-overstretched police – the SNP pressed ahead regardless. And they were supported by Scottish Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens in doing so.

Since this bizarre law has come into force, Police Scotland has been caught like a rabbit in the headlights, unsure about how they were supposed to train officers or investigate the thousands of alleged hate crimes.

The Scottish Police Federation general secretary David Kennedy describes the measures as “extremely complex” and a distraction from proper policing.

In brief, the law creates a new crime of “stirring up hatred” relating to age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or being intersex.

For clarity, I do not condone acts of hatred against any group. But this legislation is so badly framed and so incompetently implemented it risks people facing criminal action for validly held beliefs. Already, we have seen a 74-year-old pensioner dragged to the police station for questioning after a neighbour claimed falsely that she had made disparaging remarks.

At the same time, real crimes, such as assault, are going uninvestigated as our short-staffed police are sent on training courses to learn from a cartoon ‘hate monster’ no doubt created by a PR whizz-kid.

In Parliament this week, the Scottish Conservatives will propose to repeal this ill-thought-out legislation. Sadly, I doubt that my fellow local MSP colleagues from the SNP and Labour will vote with me.