SCOTTISH Conservative Party supporters in the region do not see their links with their English counterparts as “toxic” and have no wish to become a breakaway party as suggested by one of the candidates vying to take over as leader of the party in Scotland.
MSP Murdo Fraser unveiled plans to create a new centre-right party saying: “Let us remember that our most successful electoral period as a party came before 1965.
“We were not the Conservative Party then. We were a party which had a distinct Scottish identity. This new party will take us back to our roots.”
Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh & Berwickshire MSP John Lamont, however, thinks that Mr Fraser is making a big mistake.
“I reject these calls for our party in Scotland to declare independence,” said Mr Lamont.
“That is playing right into Mr Salmond’s hands. How on earth can we credibly campaign for Scotland in Britain if we rip ourselves out of our own union?
“No one will be more pleased with these plans than Alex Salmond and the SNP. They will be rubbing their hands together at the prospect of the Scottish Conservatives giving up on protecting the union.
“But I for one won’t give in to the separatists. Now is not the time to wave the white flag of surrender to Alex Salmond’s SNP. After all, you don’t beat nationalism by becoming more nationalist.
“I was elected in May as a Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP and that is what I will remain. What’s more, the members I have spoken to in the Borders are clear that they do not want the party to go in this dangerous direction.”
Party leader, Annabel Goldie, announced she was standing down following the party’s poor showing in the Scottish Parliament elections in May and John Lamont, who increased his majority at the same elections, came under pressure to stand for the party leadership.
Earlier in the summer he announced that he would not be seeking the role, wanting instead to focus his attention on his constituency, and this week he reinforced that view, saying in his weekly column in the ‘Berwickshire’: “I have come under considerable pressure to stand for the vacancy. However, after much thought I have decided not to run for the leadership. As an MSP, I believe my primary responsibility lies in serving my constituents and I felt that taking on additional responsibilities in Edinburgh and beyond could only have distracted me from that important job.
“I think the best person to champion our cause is Ruth Davidson. She is a proud Conservative who will stand up for Tory values: hard work, personal responsibility, enterprise, and fairness. But she is also that thing we need most of all: a fresh face. A new start. The next generation.
“She embodies like no one else in Scottish politics the very voters we have to convince if we’re to start winning again: young, professional, patriotic, and aspirational.”