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Tory leadership hopeful Michelle Ballantyne accuses Jackson Carlaw of ‘petty attacks’

Image credit: PA

Tory leadership hopeful Michelle Ballantyne accuses Jackson Carlaw of ‘petty attacks’

The Scottish Tory leadership contest is becoming increasingly heated, with the two opponents taking swipes at each other this week, including accusations of “secret recordings” being released to media.

Jackson Carlaw and Michelle Ballantyne are running against each other to replace former party leader Ruth Davidson.

In an interview with The Telegraph on Thursday, Carlaw said Ballantyne was the only member of the Tories Shadow Cabinet to never submit “a single policy proposal” and suggested she was lacking the ideas or support needed to win the contest. He also jokingly referred to Ballantyne as a “millionaire farmer's daughter”.

But responding to Carlaw’s interview, Ballantyne accused her opponent of “trying to undermine my campaign through secret recordings, leaks to the press and tall tales from the shadow cabinet room”.

“I wanted a leadership contest because I believe a robust debate is essential for us to go forward and win as a party. It’s disappointing that my critique of the unsuccessful election strategy has resulted in nervous opponents trying to undermine my campaign through secret recordings, leaks to the press and tall tales from the shadow cabinet room,” she said.

“Petty attacks aside, this campaign has been a wonderful opportunity to engage with our members and supporters, and I look forward to meeting even more of them in the coming days and weeks.”

Earlier this week, Ballantyne wrote in The Telegraph that the Scottish Tories lacked “vision and ambition” during the recent general election campaign that Carlaw spearheaded.

“We had the right candidates, but our party in Scotland lacked vision and ambition. Our dedicated activists were desperate for something to talk about other than indyref2. Voters knew what our party was against, but few of them knew what we were for,” she wrote.

Responding in his interview, Carlaw said: “I'm always impressed by people who find the courage of their convictions after the event but have little to say about it beforehand.”

Ballantyne is promising to take forward five policy commitments if she is elected leader: 2,000 additional front line police; a ‘teaching first’ policy; that income taxes in Scotland will never be higher than the rest of the UK; lifting the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax threshold for first-time buyers; and offering “early family intervention to break the cycle of deprivation”.

Meanwhile, Carlaw wants to continue attracting traditional working class Labour voters to the party, cut income taxes for those earning £26k-£45k, replace 2,000 teachers, extend rent to buy schemes, evaluate new house building programmes, review the rural housing fund and cancel the Workplace Parking Tax.

Party members are currently voting on the leadership election, with ballots closing February 13.

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