A Scottish council leader has been slammed for a controversial tweet featuring a banner with the message “Ram yer union up yer hoop”.

John Ross, head of South Lanarkshire council, also posted images of a union jack flying from a pile of dog faeces, captioned with: “the perfect answer to our unionist friends”.

The Hamilton South councillor posted the message after attending Saturday’s independence rally in Glasgow, however it has drawn widespread criticism from opponents.

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Liberal Democrat group leader Robert Brown and Labour group leader Joe Fagan have both criticised the SNP council leader for the tweet.

Cllr Brown said: “I really don’t know what Councillor Ross is thinking of in pushing these childish and offensive tweets on social media.

“Sadly it is not the first time we have had such stuff from the SNP leader of South Lanarkshire Council.

“Unpleasant comments like this show an arrogance and contempt for the views of other people we can do without – people are already bitterly divided by the independence issue and by Brexit without senior SNP representatives stoking the fires of resentment and prejudice.

“John Ross should recognise the council leader represents everyone and stop being a cheerleader for the more unpleasant parts of his nationalist cause.”

Cllr Ross tweeted from his personal account and did not tweet in connection with his role as leader of South Lanarkshire Council.

He has since deleted the tweet and apologised for sending it in the first place.

He said: “I was one of the thousands of people who took part in last weekend’s independence rally.  My support for independence is well known, having been a member of the SNP since 1973, and I am proud to be part of the campaign for another independence referendum.

“It is very clear to me that the UK is presently in a mess and that Scotland would be better off out of the Union, and that was the essence of the messages on the posters that I tweeted from the rally.

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Glasgow Times: Mr Ross later deleted the tweet, but users were quick to screenshot itMr Ross later deleted the tweet, but users were quick to screenshot it

“However, the wording and images were not the sort of thing I would use myself and when I had a chance to reflect on this, I decided to delete the tweet from my timeline.

“I respect that other people may not share my political views and will be careful to take cognisance of this in any future tweets.

“I am fully committed to doing the best that I can for South Lanarkshire and all its residents, regardless of their political views or none. Certainly, I never intended to offend and my apologies go to anyone who was offended.”

All councillors are subject to the Standard’s Commission for Scotland’s code of conduct and receive social media advice as part of training based on the code.

South Lanarkshire Council declined to comment.