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.”


Big Eye
2012-04-15 02:34

Let’s face it it is an easy ask for Tory Central Office to guarantee that as a Tory candidate they will be in no danger of winning, there must be hundreds of guarantees out there!
2012-04-15 03:35

What an insult to anyone who wants to vote Tory. “We don’t care but vote for us anyway”. That is not what democracy is about. Even if a candidate doesn’t win they can still comment on and debate issues out of office, and still honestly claim to represent the views of some of the electorate while doing so. Even loosing on a good campaign (if that’s possible for a Tory) is an investement in better chances next time. The SNP didn’t get where it is today by giving up when very few were voting for them.
2012-04-15 06:46

Haha, I got a big tory leaflet through the door the other day. It tried to hide the fact it was from the tories, nothing on front of back page, and a reference to the candidate having worked for ‘a political party’. I thought she was an independent candidate, till I found inside the tory connection in subtle colour and certainly not standing out. They are ashamed to be tory, and no wonder. Now in the trash where it belongs. By the way, it also contianed many references to recent work and intitiatives, mostly snp, and phrased in a way the tory candidate seemed to be taking the credit for the snp work.
2012-04-15 11:27

They’re all at the same ploy, though I thought the tories were the most blatant!
The “independants” need chasing too, simply unionists with a thin veneer of sh whitewash!
Should they not be made to publicise the fact that they were formerly whatever?

edinburgh quine
2012-04-15 09:13

Y’know I thought the tories had sunk as low as they could go when they elected thatcher. Then of course came cameron; even lower. And even though I’m not shocked or surprised at this, I’m really, really annoyed that they can attempt to scew elections in this way.

All parties put up people they know wont get in; after all, they have to see what kind of support they have in an area. But surely along with the candidate, they put up a campaign as well.

All that said, unless the local (johnson?) press run it as a story, so what? How do the electors of Sutherland find out?
Robert Louis
2012-04-15 09:17

So, let me get this right, the Tories in Scotland are doing this to try to prevent the SNP winning certain seats, I guess in the hope that Labour does win instead.

So, am I right? Are the Tories really so feart of the SNP that they are putting up stooges in order to help Labour win?? Labour and Tories, bestest friends for ever.

Is this not in some way, given the quotes by Mr Mason, in breach of electoral rules?
2012-04-15 10:01

This story was in Northern Times this week front page so most in Sutherland will know although I couldn’t find it in on-line edition.
Ken Mac
2012-04-16 08:49


2012-04-15 10:18

I cannot imagine anyone being dumb enough to fall for this pathetic trick. But the Tories seem to have lost the will to live this time round if their only amibition is to come third.

My local candidate delivered a grainy black-and-white photocopy of his leaflet with the dreariest content I’ve ever come across in a political campaign:

Admitting that with 15 years’ council service in opposition he had no achievements to show;

that his voice is listened to “from time to time”;

Complaining that the ward is now too big to go round all the doors;

No reference whatsoever to any local issues, past or present;

A list of general things the Tories believe in rather than what they plan to do for the area;

And the nub, of course, “We need to use the elections to make a stand against separatism” and “send the clearest possible message that we reject the SNP’s seperatist agenda.”

So in this area too they aren’t even pretending to care about the local community, it’s all about their fear of independence.

He’ll be lucky to get even the die-hards voting for him with that negative outlook.
2012-04-15 11:06

Where were these comments reported? There’s no sign of any such interview with the Daily Mail to be found online.
Online Editor
2012-04-15 11:14

Here is an online reference for the gentleman’s quote:…/…

2012-04-15 13:03

I think this is an affront to local democarcy. This shows the contempt for which the tory party holds Scotland and her people.

In an independent Scotland, we should jail the candidate for 10 years and the party leader for life! This will ensure attention to and respect for local governance is adhered to. Yes, I am aware that this is extreme however this kind of political strategy is corrosive and is partly responsible for people not wanting to participate. Jail time will make the candidates think twice.

edinburgh quine
2012-04-15 13:47

Well, you know what they say. Jail everyone for parking illegally and we wouldn’t have a parking problem…

2012-04-15 13:12

Good link thank you.

Is it true that the SNP are fielding 33 candidates bit of overkill?
2012-04-15 13:24

You’d think that given the fact our PR system of voting in Scottish elections, both for Holyrood and Local Councils, actually gives the Tories seats – and thus a voice – which their own favoured first-past-the-post system would never do, they’d be working all out to win votes from potential supporters.

Never mind though, even as we speak no doubt their Westminster “big gun”, Paddington Mundell, will be galloping northwards to the rescue … or maybe not.
Keep UTG
2012-04-15 15:50

Mundell fits the profile of a Tory stooge quite well,do you think he was a place man as well and the plan went pearshaped when he got elected?
2012-04-16 09:46

Are Labour Hame on holiday?
2012-04-16 10:34

This rings true with my constituency too. The ‘no hoper’ Tory candidate declares that he is British, not English (in fact he is a Geordie)and that he has a mind of his own and not generally given to toeing the party line.

Ruth’s disciples are all over the place.He will be lucky to scrape any votes outside his immediate family.
2012-04-16 13:15

Isn’t that “misrepresentati  on” ?
Are candidates allowed to do that ?
2012-04-16 14:00

So far I have had stuff though my letterbox from the SNP candidate and two lots of leaflets (3/4 copies each time) from Labour. I haven’t seen anything from the Tories or the Libdems but then I am in an area that has been a Labour fiefdom for decades [Edited – NNS Mod Team].
2012-04-16 19:20

Sounds like the Labour’s leaflet distributor wasn’t happy and just wanted to get rid of them.

You must be logged-in in order to post a comment.