David Mundell will receive a very frosty reception when he turns up at the Scottish Conference in Perth according to Angus Macleod in The Times. The Shadow Scottish Secretary faces grassroots anger for a leaked memo that included damaging criticisms of the Scottish party leadership and described Tory MSPs as "clueless." One unnamed MSP called for Mr Mundell to be thrown into the Tay and, according to the Daily Record, added: "The Tay is very deep this time of year"! Although many Tory members, ConservativeHome included, have sympathy for Mr Mundell’s critique, they feel it was unwise for the criticisms to be committed to paper and they – and this website – have been underwhelmed by Mr Mundell’s own performance. Many question Mr Cameron’s decision to propel a new and inexperienced MP into the testing position of Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland. As Alan Cochrane writes in today’s Telegraph: "Until two years ago [Mundell] was also an MSP at Holyrood and didn’t exactly set the heather alight."
ConservativeHome understands that the leadership of Scotland’s Tories asked David Cameron to force Mr Mundell to resign but Mr Cameron has resisted those calls. Instead Mr Cameron heaped praise on Peter Duncan and Annabel Goldie – whilst declining to offer any endorsement to Mr Mundell:
"Annabel Goldie and Peter Duncan are going a great job. Annabel has a no-nonsense approach and is addressing the issues that really matter in Scotland. The party in Scotland is in better health now than it has been for many years, and is running an effective campaign."
We are hoping to verify information given to us identifying the source of the leak. The Daily Record probably paid £5,000 to £10,000 for the memo.
David Mundell can be grateful for the furore associated with the sacking of Patrick Mercer. Without that event there would have been much more attention focused on his ill-advised memo. Once the Scottish elections are over there must be serious renewal of the Scottish party – and a semi-independent identity must be a priority reform – but before then every effort must be made to support Annabel Goldie’s efforts to maximise the Scottish Tory vote on 3rd May. She certainly did well at First Minister’s Questions yesterday. Responding to jibes from labnour’s First Minister Jack McConnell about the Mundell memo, she replied:
"The difference between the First Minister and me is that the internal memos of my party do not end up in Scotland Yard."