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Davidson leads Dugdale as preferred opponent to Sturgeon

The Sunday Post reports that Ruth Davidson is greatly preferred to her Labour counterpart to lead the opposition to the Scottish Government.

This comes despite a slight slip in Conservative polling – although she claims to have detected a “surprising shift” towards the Tories, who also won a council by-election in Perth and Kinross this week.

According to YouGov 32 per cent of respondents felt the Tory leader would do a better job of holding the First Minister to account than Kezia Dugdale, who was preferred by just 13 per cent.

Roughly the same share favoured Davidson as the more competent, although the Labour leader was counted as more in touch with ordinary people. The Scottish Conservatives are launching their manifesto today.

Davies pitches tax cuts as Welsh Tories slip into third

Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, has set out his Party’s plans to cut taxes in order to make Wales “the low tax capital of the UK” in the Times Red Box (£) yesterday.

He wants to use new powers to “to give taxpayers a fairer deal and create an environment which incentivises hard work, rewards risk-takers and makes Wales a desirable destination for innovators and bright minds”.

Wales Online reports that these plans include a five-year freeze in council tax.

However, the latest polling finds the Tories apparently settling into third place in the Assembly polls, despite a poor performance from Labour relative to 2011 – although its support is growing over the ‘steel crisis’.

SNP accused of ‘dirty tricks’ over Labour leader work experience leak…

Kezia Dugdale has accused the Scottish Nationalists of conducting a dirty tricks campaign after details of her work experience application to the Party were leaked, a move the Daily Record branded “pathetic”.

It was revealed that, during her student days, the Labour leader made two unsuccessful applications for work experience with a Nationalist MSP.

Willie Rennie, who leads the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has demanded that the Information Commissioner investigate and Richard Lochead, the farming minister and MSP in question, now faces an inquiry as his own party comes under pressure to investigate him.

…as Sturgeon takes further fire over Chinese deal

Nor was this the only scandal to dog the SNP’s heels this week. Nicola Sturgeon faces claims that she “misled the Scottish public” over a controversial deal with China.

The First Minister claims that she had no prior awareness of allegations of corruption against a Chinese firm involved in a potential £10 billion deal with her Government, which have led to warnings not to proceed.

Critics are already attacking the SNP for appearing to deceive the public about the nature of the ‘memorandum of understanding’ they signed, and trying to hide behind Freedom of Information law.

This, perhaps alongside the Dugdale furore, has coincided with a marked drop in the Nationalists’ predicted share of the regional vote in next month’s Holyrood election.

Wales-wide anti-UKIP campaign launched

Hope not Hate, an anti-racist campaigning group, has launched a country-wide campaign aimed purely at dissuading voters from supporting UKIP in next month’s Welsh elections, according to Wales Online.

In addition to a van towing slogans attacking the party, the group plan to distribute more than half a million letters, postcards, and leaflets. Support for the People’s Army has declined in the last couple of months but it still looks set to enter the Assembly in May.

Meanwhile the launch of UKIP’s Scottish manifesto managed to pass without fuss, after the Party took great lengths to avoid the sort of crowds which barricaded Nigel Farage in a pub in 2013.

The Sun summarised the party’s pitch as “more booze, ciggies, and guns” – referring to pledges to reverse a recent cut in the drink-driving limit, permit smoking rooms in hospitality venues, and relax air gun restrictions.

Author claims Creative Scotland exert ‘political pressure’ on artists and writers

Kirsty Gunn, a Scottish novelist, has accused a state agency of the “unofficial politicising” of literature north of the border.

In an essay for the Scotland on Sunday, she claims that Creative Scotland is creating an awards structure which rewards “Scottish-themed” material, rather than art for arts sake, and accuses it of harbouring “a controlling sort of agenda for books and poems and stories.”

The SNP Government has been accused before of subverting the independence of Scottish civil institutions, such as when it almost made the universities public bodies.

Northern Irish leaders release tax returns after Cameron row

The leaders of both of Northern Ireland’s major unionist parties published their tax returns this week, in the aftermath of the political furore over the Prime Minister’s finances.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that both Arlene Foster, the First Minister and leader of the Democratic Unionists, and Mike Nesbitt of the Ulster Unionists have made their earnings public.

On the Nationalist side, both Colum Eastwood of the SDLP and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein have either published returns or plan to do so.

28 comments for: Henry Hill: Voters prefer Davidson to lead Scottish opposition

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