Tory party battle lines are drawn

SFGS Jackson Carlaw
SFGS Jackson Carlaw

Just two days after announcing his intention to stand for leadership of the Scottish Conservatives, Jackson Carlaw has been forced to defend the party itself.

This follows rival Murdo Fraser’s claims that he would set up a breakaway party if he were to be named leader.

The west of Scotland MSP, who challenged Ken Macintosh for the Eastwood seat in May, believes “this party’s not for disbanding”.

Mr Carlaw told The Extra: “The public appear deeply unimpressed with the idea that a change of name will make any difference to their voting intentions.

“Nor is it clear how Mr Fraser believes his policy to be principled. Apparently, Scottish MPs would take the Conservative whip at Westminster but then oppose a Conservative government when it was politically expedient to do so.

“This proposal is dividing the party rather than uniting it. It ignores the membership’s support for the Sanderson Commission proposals for reform. It undermines our fight to defeat Alex Salmond’s separatist agenda.”

Speaking at his launch on Friday, the Tory said he would demand an early referendum on independence in order to defend the union.

He added: “For too long there has been a belief that by constantly conceding to the separatist SNP agenda, we can somehow appease nationalism.

“This policy has ultimately led to an SNP majority government and the very real threat of separation.”

Also set to join Messers Carlaw and Fraser in the race to replace Annabel Goldie is newly-elected Glasgow MSP Ruth Davidson.

Despite his controversial plans, Fraser remains the favourite of the bookies at 4/5, ahead of Carlaw who is neck and neck with Davidson at 5/2.

n Eastwood MSP Ken Macintosh remains tight-lipped on whether he will stand to replace Iain Gray as Scottish Labour leader.

The 49-year-old told The Extra: “Until a leadership contest is declared after the end of the internal party review, I will not make an announcement”.

Mr Macintosh is third favourite for the Scottish Labour hotseat according to bookmakers Paddy Power, who have the local MSP at 9/4, closely behind Jackie Baillie and Johann Lamont.