Tory hopes for council elections: candidates who don’t want to be elected

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By a Newsnet reporter

SNP MSP Rob Gibson has said that the Tories will get rejected at the local elections in Scotland because they have no ambition for themselves and no ambition for Scotland.

Mr Gibson’s comments follow the revelation that Tory council candidate Les Mason is standing in a North, West and Central Sutherland ward at next month’s council elections following a telephone request from Conservative headquarters.  Mr Mason only agreed to stand for the party on the condition that he did not have to campaign, and as long as Tory HQ gave him a guarantee that he would not be elected.  

Mr Mason lives almost 100 miles away from the area where he is standing as a councillor.  He has no plans to visit the ward where he is a candidate.  Mr Mason admitted that the Tory strategy was to put up candidates like himself as spoilers, and freely acknowledged that he is only on the ballot in an attempt to split the vote and reduce the chances of the SNP candidate getting in.  

Interviewed by the Daily Mail, Mr Mason said: “Someone in Edinburgh at the top of the party phoned me up and asked if I would like to help them out.  I emphasised I would but only if they could guarantee that I would not win.

“I did offer to go up to North West and Central Sutherland but the party bosses said there was no need to.

“They told me to do nothing and that was it.  All they wanted was my name on the ballot paper to reduce the chances of the SNP getting in.”

He added: “That’s why people like me have been asked to stand, not because we have any hope of winning, but to split the vote and reduce the chance of the SNP getting in. That’s the Tory strategy.”

Mr Mason’s embarrassing admission follows Tory leader Ruth Davidson conceding that she could not turn the party’s electoral fortunes around overnight and that third place – just ahead of their own coalition partners the Lib Dems – would be the party’s aim.

Despite the party apparently “press-ganging” candidates to stand in areas where the party has no chance of winning, the Conservatives are fielding 17 fewer candidates in May’s council elections than they did in the previous council elections in 2007.

Mr Gibson, SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, will write to Ms Davidson asking how many other candidates have been press-ganged into standing while knowing they don’t have to campaign and on promises that they will not be elected.

He said:

“This so called ‘candidate’ really has let the cat out the bag, showing the Tories complete lack of ambition in Scotland.

“Their campaign pledge is to improve localism but these revelations show the complete contempt which Tories have for local democracy.

“What an embarrassment for the Tories – Mr Mason’s comments show they have been dragooning people into their ranks just to stand for the sake of standing.

“Privately Ms Davidson and the Tories know that the people in the Highlands and across Scotland will reject them.

“Ruth Davidson is clearly unable to understand the hopes and aspirations of the people of Scotland – they have failed to put forward any positive case for voting Tory.

“The people who live in this country know that the Tories have failed to learn their lessons from previous electoral defeats and will rightly once again reject the Tories at the polling booth on May 3.”