FOR almost 40 years, the SNP was the party that Andy Doig would defend with his last breath.

Now the veteran Nationalist is preparing to take on his former love in a showdown at the ballot box.

He was still a teenager when he joined the party in 1979 and went on to serve as Assistant National Secretary.

In 2012, he flew the SNP flag as he was elected as a councillor for the Johnstone North, Kilbarchan and Lochwinnoch ward.

And, until a few days ago, he was deputy leader of Renfrewshire’s SNP group.

Now, though, Councillor Doig has split from the party after being deselected as a council candidate.

And, as is the case with so many divorces, things have already turned ugly.

As he quit, Cllr Doig fired a scathing attack on the party’s top brass and claimed there has been a campaign to have him removed after he hit the headlines in 2015 amidst accusations of sexism and homophobia.

The claims stemmed from writing and sending what he termed “a satirical spoof email” about SNP colleagues to two SNP members.

And voters can prepare for fireworks if, as expected, he declares he is to stand for re-election to Renfrewshire Council in May - this time as an independent candidate.

Cllr Doig told The Gazette: “I was influenced by the late Margo MacDonald, who was also treated disgracefully by the SNP.

“She is the perfect example of someone that can really make a difference in politics as an independent voice.

“Dennis Canavan, an ex Labour MP, was also treated badly but was a strong voice. There are people that can make a difference as an independent politician.”

Cllr Doig, 55, concedes that “a lapse of judgement” on his behalf led to the 2015 email dust-up.

He was ruled not to be sexist and homophobic by a party committee in 2016 and, earlier this month, the SNP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) upheld his council candidacy.

But the SNP leadership have since deselected him as a council candidate, prompting him to go out on his own - lambasting the SNP leadership as he leaves.

He added: “It is in the public domain that, in a lapse of judgement, I composed a satirical spoof email in 2015, lampooning other SNP members.

“I apologised for this, both publicly and, to most of those mentioned in the email, privately.”

Despite his acrimonious split with the SNP, Cllr Doig insists that, should he stand as an independent in May, he will be focusing on what he can bring to the job, rather than slinging mud at his opponents.

He said: “It’s not about beating the SNP or beating any party, it is about positively promoting my case for the community and the ward.”

Cllr Doig, whose wife Audrey remains a SNP councillor, representing Houston, Crosslee and Linwood, is also confident his record as an elected member since 2012 stands scrutiny.

He said: “I have only been a councillor for five years but I am hard working and I am always proactive, unlike some other councillors.”

An SNP spokeswoman said: “The National Executive Committee considered that Mr Doig was not a fit and proper person to represent the SNP at the coming election.”