David Mundell: Tories can beat Labour to become official opposition at Holyrood
The Scottish Conservatives can push Labour into third place at next May’s election to become the official opposition at Holyrood, according to the Scottish Secretary.
David Mundell, the Tories only MP north of the border, said fresh polling showed it was "perfectly possible" for the Conservatives to overtake Labour in five months time.
A ComRes survey for the Independent on Sunday yesterday put the Tories on 21 per cent in Scotland, seven points ahead of Labour albeit still well behind the SNP, which had 45 per cent support.
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The Scottish Conservatives unveiled their final list rankings for Scotland’s eight regions in the last few days. Leader Ruth Davidson tops the party’s election list in the Lothian region.
“There are strong signs now, I think, of a resurgence under Ruth Davidson’s leadership,” Mundell told BBC 5Live’s Pienaar’s Politics.
“She’s a dynamic young woman who has brought a real buzz to Scottish politics and is clearly the only person in the Scottish Parliament who is able to go toe-to-toe with Nicola Sturgeon and hold her to account.”
Asked whether the Conservatives would finish in second place behind the SNP in May, he said: “I think it’s perfectly possible. It’s not inevitable – we’ve got to work very hard.
“At the moment, Ruth Davidson is the de facto leader of the opposition in Scotland and we want to make her the official leader of the opposition by having more MSPs by the Labour party. I think that’s perfectly possible.”
Figures were taken from a UK-wide poll, meaning the numbers for Scotland are based on less than 200 people. Mundell said he would not “get hung-up” on that one poll.
“It’s consistent with a number of other polls,” he said. “Today’s sample is small. There is a number of other polls, though, that have showed Labour and the Conservatives very close together in Scotland; there’s been a number of council by-elections right across Scotland which have shown the Conservatives outperforming Labour.
“So Ruth’s very clear pitch in the election next year is to the two million people who voted to remain in the United Kingdom: if you want someone to stand up to the SNP, somebody to speak out for the United Kingdom then the Scottish Conservatives are your vote.”
A separate TNS poll published this weekend, with a bigger sample size of 1,034 people, had the SNP on 52 per cent, Labour in second on 25 per cent and the Conservatives adrift on 11 per cent.