Scotland

Douglas Ross has made things even worse for the Tories

You thought things couldn’t get worse for the Conservative party in this election? They just did. The Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, has announced that he is to resign his leadership following yet another alleged scandal concerning a Tory politician. Few in Ross’s own party can keep up with the twists and turns of his political ambitions Allegations were reported over the weekend that Mr Ross had used his Westminster expenses to travel around the country performing his side hustle as an assistant referee for the Scottish Football Association. Mr Ross denies acting improperly and insists that he has only ever claimed expenses related to his role as MP. Needless to say,

Isabel Hardman

Douglas Ross resigns as Scottish Tory leader

Just when you thought this election campaign couldn’t get any more tumultuous, Douglas Ross has announced he will resign as Scottish Conservative leader. He had lost the support of his colleagues – particularly those in Holyrood – following his decision to effectively take over a Westminster colleague’s constituency when that MP was seriously ill in hospital.  In a statement released this morning, Ross said he had come to the conclusion was no longer ‘feasible’ to be both an MP, MSP and party leader (something he had previously stated, but changed his mind on), but that he will continue to hold the role until after the election. He will also resign

Nigel Farage will be disappointed by his BBC debate performance

It had been called the dinner party from hell. A seven-strong convention of the also rans. But only one dinner guest really mattered: Nigel Farage. The populist politician’s last-minute decision to stand as a Reform candidate in Clacton has struck fear into the hearts of Conservative MPs across the country, but especially in the 60 marginal seats that Professor John Curtice says Reform could help the Tories lose on 4 July. The surprise of the night was a new coalition on electoral reform between Farage and the Lib Dems But none of tonight’s participants in the BBC debate were going to allow the debate to turn into the Nigel Farage show. He

Steerpike

SNP’s musical campaign efforts fall on deaf ears

With only four weeks to go until the general election, party campaigns are rapidly ramping up. Politicians and staffers are desperately searching for more creative (and crazy) ways of getting voters’ attention — and north of the border the Nats have mobilised the musical wing of their party. Taylor Swift is in town for the start of the UK leg of her Eras tour and the SNP’s Swift-mania is in overdrive. One press release from the Nats managed to include a whole, um, 11 references to the star’s songs, including a line from social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville that read: There’s no question that the Tories are out of Style in Scotland

Stephen Daisley

Why is Douglas Ross standing for parliament again?

Not content with being a referee and leader of the Tories in Scotland, Douglas Ross seems bent on making himself even more unpopular with the punters. In doing so, he has alighted upon David Duguid, the Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan since 2017, who wrestled that once true-blue redoubt back from the SNP after 30 years of Nationalist incumbency.  Duguid, who served as a minister under Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, was preparing to stand again, under his seat’s new name of Aberdeenshire North and Moray East, when he was struck by illness and spent four weeks in intensive care. He says he’s on the road to recovery and

Isabel Hardman

Alex Salmond: We are not splitting the SNP vote

Is Alex Salmond feasting on the misery of an SNP that, having hit its high watermark, is now having to work hard to hold onto its Westminster seats? Not at all, according to the Alba leader, who told Andrew Neil on Times Radio today that he was in fact trying to help the cause of his former party by going after pro-independence voters who would otherwise have stayed at home. In so doing, of course, he was not-so-subtly suggesting that the SNP aren’t giving voters a reason to turn out at all.  There’s 20 per cent of people who are either going to stay at home or going to vote

What could explain Douglas Ross’s Westminster U-turn?

Scottish Tory Leader Douglas Ross has a side hustle as an assistant referee for the Scottish Football Association. Now, Scotland’s opposition parties are showing him the red card for his last minute decision to stand as parliamentary candidate for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East constituency. It’s a ‘stitch up,’ says the SNP. Ross is being cast as ‘shameful’, ‘nasty’ and the leader of a ‘morally bankrupt’ party for apparently elbowing aside former Tory minister, David Duguid, who’d said he was expecting to stand in the seat. Duguid has been in hospital with a spinal illness. But last night the Scottish Conservative Party Management Board announced that his ‘recovery would be put at

Steerpike

Scottish Tory leader ousts unwell colleague as candidate

Back to Scotland, where some rather strange events are unfolding. The leader of the Scottish Conservatives Douglas Ross — who most recently was the MP for Moray, alongside being MSP for the Highlands and Islands — this morning brought media from across the country together for an emergency announcement. After months of pledging to step down as a Tory MP, Ross has revealed he will now stand in the new seat of Aberdeenshire North and Moray East. But Ross’s announcement has been met with a rather large backlash — not least because his party has effectively deselected his colleague David Duguid, who is currently in hospital with a spinal illness.

Melanie McDonagh

Scotland’s religious collapse

Last week, I had a drink with a Catholic priest friend who works with young people in custody. Inevitably, our talk turned to how radically unchurched they are – not badly disposed to Christianity, just unfamiliar with much of the doctrine and almost all the forms of worship, even though many had a Catholic granny or a non-practising parent. He mused over the startling speed of the secularisation of society. ‘Protestantism has collapsed,’ he said, and not in any triumphalist spirit. ‘Most people believe in or at least want to believe in some form of afterlife’ And so it has turned out in Scotland. The latest census, published last month,

Is Stephen Flynn’s seat really at risk from Labour?

In public, Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour party is all humility. Starmer might currently be heading towards a general election landslide victory but the line is consistent: The party’s taking nothing for granted. Privately? Well, one of two of the party’s candidates and strategists might concede they expect things to go rather well for them on July 4. Quite a few will admit they expect a landslide. In Scotland, confidence among the Labour lot is so strong that they have their eyes on a win that would have been unthinkable just a couple of years ago. The Times has reported today that Labour fancies its chances of unseating the SNP’s Westminster

Alex Salmond’s Alba party isn’t serious about the general election

In the second-floor room of a building on Tufton Street, Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond delivered a press conference this afternoon to London journalists. An untouched tray of biscuits sat on a coffee table at the back, while the rest of the space was rather merch-light thanks to forgetful organisers not transporting more materials from Scotland: a party banner was illuminated on a TV screen and seats were covered in ‘general election briefing’ PDF print-outs. Hydrating not with water but with Lucozade — the party leader confessed a ‘lifelong addiction’ to the sugary drink, admitting it was neither Irn Bru nor Aperol Spritz, a favourite tipple of some nationalist

Steerpike

SNP leader’s bizarre funding plea

The SNP will soon have more election campaign launch events than predicted Westminster seats if it continues at the rate it is going. The party’s latest launch — the third this year — was held in the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Glasgow on Sunday afternoon, where party activists and political candidates gathered to hear a series of speeches ahead of the looming general election.  Marketing itself as the party of ‘change’ (Mr S doesn’t have to look far to know where that’s been stolen from), the Nats slammed ‘continuity Keir’ as the ‘most right-wing Conservative Labour leader’ to date. But while the SNP is pledging to ‘eradicate’ child poverty

Steerpike

SNP’s ‘urgent plea’ to house campaigning Westminster staffers

Oh dear. No one party appears to be enjoying an especially slick campaign at present, but north of the border the SNP seems particularly down on its luck. As Mr S noted on Monday, the Nats are not exactly swimming in cash at the moment — the party is struggling to bring donations in while the police probe into its finances remains ongoing — and separatist candidate have been forced to plead with the public for help with their campaign Crowdfunders. Now the Nats are faced with a fresh problem: where to house the party’s central Westminster team, who are loyally trekking north to help with election efforts. Well, if

Stephen Daisley

Matheson’s suspension has come at a terrible time for the SNP

The Scottish parliament has voted to suspend former SNP cabinet minister Michael Matheson for 27 sitting days and dock his salary for 54 calendar days. It comes after Matheson was found to have broken the MSP code of conduct on expenses and use of parliamentary resources. Matheson ran up an £11,000 mobile data bill during a family holiday in Morocco and tried to have the taxpayer pick up the tab. Despite initially claiming no knowledge of how such a large bill was incurred, he later said that his sons had run up the charges while using the device’s hotspotting function to stream Celtic football matches.  The vote broke down 64

John Swinney’s wounds are self-inflicted

John Swinney has said that he will make sure the public sees enough of him over the election campaign. But do they want to? In the latest Survation poll, conducted for True North over the weekend he is now the third most popular leader in this race of also-rans, with an approval rating of -7.  Sir Keir Starmer is top and the Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, is second most popular at -3. This fall from grace may not be unconnected with Mr Swinney’s much-criticised defence last week of his disgraced ‘friend and colleague’ Michael Matheson, of iPad fame. Mr Matheson had been censured by the Holyrood Standards Committee for trying to claim,

The SNP has finally given up on Greta Thunberg

It is less than three years since Nicola Sturgeon was taking selfies with Greta Thunberg at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow. Now in this election the climate, if you’ll excuse the pun, has changed beyond all recognition. Gone is the moral posturing and climate alarmism of recent years as the Scottish parties desperately roll back on their climate rhetoric in the face of huge job losses in Scotland’s energy sector. Black is the new green. Oil and gas companies are no longer climate pariahs. It was of course Nicola Sturgeon back in 2021 who made Scotland the first country in the world  to declare a ‘climate emergency’. We cannot

Stephen Daisley

Which seats are the Scottish Tories targeting in the election?

The Scottish Conservatives were facing a difficult election this summer but SNP leader John Swinney may have thrown them a lifeline. In choosing to attack Holyrood’s standards committee for proposing a 27-day suspension for nationalist MSP Michael Matheson, Swinney has put his party on the wrong side of public opinion. Matheson was censured for running up an £11,000 data bill on his parliamentary iPad during a family holiday in Morocco and trying to have the taxpayer cover it. Swinney claims the standards process was prejudiced by one of the committee’s members and says he will oppose its recommendations. This has been a welcome surprise for the Scottish Tories. A senior

Steerpike

SNP candidates struggle to Crowdfund campaign money

Uh oh. As election campaigns kick off, a number of nationalist politicians have had a rather rocky start. The SNP has already gone into election season on the back foot as polls consistently predict the party is likely to lose around half its Westminster MPs in the next election. To make matters worse the SNP is also having trouble attracting investment while the police probe into party finances hangs hangs over it. The latest accounts show the Nats saw an £800,000 financial loss as membership numbers fell and donations dried up. Now it transpires that Scottish National party candidates have had to resort to launching Crowdfund pages to try and

Katy Balls

What does a July election mean for the SNP?

12 min listen

We have spoken a lot on the podcast this week about how a July election could be disastrous for the Conservatives, but what about the SNP? With arrests, investigations, resignations and a recent leadership change, it looks as though a snap election couldn’t come at a worse time for the Scottish nationalists. Katy Balls speaks to Lucy Dunn and Fergus Mutch, former head of communications for the SNP. 

Stephen Daisley

John Swinney is making a mess of the SNP’s election campaign

Humza Yousaf lasted just over 400 days as SNP leader. Will his replacement John Swinney get that far? The question arises so soon into his tenure because of Swinney’s decision to oppose the suspension of a former cabinet colleague. Michael Matheson resigned as health secretary in February after the taxpayer was left with an £11,000 bill for iPad data usage incurred while he was on a family holiday in Morocco. After initially claiming ignorance as to how the bill was run up, Matheson later claimed that his sons had hotspotted the data to watch football matches. Yousaf stood by Matheson, calling him a ‘man of integrity’, a locution the opposition