The MP who left the SNP to join the Tories has likened her former party to a “cult”.
Lisa Cameron announced this week she would cross the floor, claiming there was a “toxic” culture within the SNP group at Westminster.
In an interview with the Scottish Daily Mail, Dr Cameron said she regretted not leaving sooner than Thursday, when she was just hours away from hearing the outcome of a selection contest in her East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow seat against SNP staffer Grant Costello.
Dr Cameron said her relationship with SNP colleagues resulted in a year of counselling sessions and the need for antidepressants.
She has also claimed she had to leave her home due to threats following the defection.
However, the new Tory MP said the decision – which was welcomed by Prime Minster Rishi Sunak – was not one she has “taken lightly”.
But one of her former SNP colleagues, Glasgow South MP Stewart McDonald, told the Scotsman’s podcast The Steamie Dr Cameron had been on “defection-watch” since before the pandemic.
Dr Cameron told the paper: “It is almost like, with the SNP, you sort of get indoctrinated a bit, I feel in an unhealthy way, and your identity gets merged with the doctrine. It’s like, ‘Here’s what you think about things’.
“There’s not so much, from my experience, individual choice and decision-making or contribution. It almost becomes like a learned helplessness in a way, and it took a long time for me to rebuild my confidence to even speak about things.
“It does feel quite cult-like in the sense that, in order to have continued approval you have to think and act and speak and behave in a way that is expected constantly, and never to criticise.”
She also claimed there was a “cult of personality” within the SNP – which meets for Humza Yousaf’s first conference as leader on Sunday – that has left people feeling “unable to question” the leadership, and being forced to leave.
Dr Cameron has said she was ostracised by the Westminster group after speaking up for the young staffer harassed by MP Patrick Grady, when the group’s leadership asked colleagues to show Mr Grady support.
Mr Grady has since failed SNP vetting to run for his Glasgow North seat at the next election.
Dr Cameron blamed her difficult relationships with SNP colleagues for a year of counselling sessions she underwent and the need for antidepressants.
However, SNP president Mike Russell said on Friday the defection was an “odd tantrum”, from someone who was “going to lose their nomination”.
Mr Yousaf, speaking to the PA news agency on Thursday, said it was the “least surprising news” he had heard since becoming First Minister and he questioned Dr Cameron’s commitment to Scottish independence.
Asked about his comments, the MP said while she believes in Scottish independence, she no longer trusts the SNP to run a Scottish Government outside the UK.