By Tim Montgomerie
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The Murdo Fraser campaign has just released polling of 1,500 Scottish voters conducted by ORB for the Scottish party before this year's Holyrood elections (PDF). Asked whether certain parties put mainly English, Scottish or British issues first the Scottish Conservatives were seen as the most English and the least Scottish… and by some distance:
Commenting Murdo Fraser said the finding strengthened his argument that the Scottish party needed a new identity:
“No problem was ever solved by brushing it under the carpet. We have watched our vote decline at every election since the inception of the Scottish Parliament, and this polling tells us exactly why. We have been fooling ourselves for almost 15 years and we must not allow it to go on. There is a belief amongst some that if we bide our time for another 10 years, things will get better. But we said that 10 years ago. It hasn’t got better, and it never will without radical change.
The anti-change approach will ultimately drag us down to a single-figure vote share, a single-figure number of seats in the Scottish Parliament, no seats at Westminster and effectively the end of the centre-right in Scotland. A new captain of the ship is not enough – we need a new ship.”
To reinforce his point his campaign published these tables which warn what would happen if the Scottish Tories' vote continues to decline on the scale that it has declined at recent elections:
Over the last week Murdo Fraser has won the support of former MSP Ted Brocklebank and former Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Peter Duncan. A multi-millionaire announced today that he would pour money into the Scottish party if Murdo Fraser wins – calming fears that a new centre right party wouldn't be financially viable. Fraser also has by far the most support from the existing MSP group; Sir Jamie McGrigor, Liz Smith, Gavin Brown, Alex Fergusson, Alex Johnstone and Nanette Milne all back him. Scotland's Tory MEP, Struan Stevenson, has also declared for Murdo. Visit Murdo2011.com.
Ruth Davidson MSP, meanwhile, has won the support of former Scottish Secretary Lord Forsyth. Ms Davidson also has the support of the one MSP with the largest number of Tory members in his backyard; John Lamont. She has a new website, has promised to visit every Tory Association during the campaign and has released this video:
The third contender Jackson Carlaw is looking the unlikeliest of the three. His only initiative so far has been to launch a petition to save the Scottish party. It has only received 48 signatures at the time of this posting.