06 May 2022

Early results in Scotland ‘really disappointing’ for Tories, admits MSP

06 May 2022

Early results for the Scottish Conservatives in local elections have been “really disappointing”, one of the party’s frontbenchers at Holyrood said, adding the Tories will “lick our wounds and move on”.

Speaking to the PA news agency from the Edinburgh count, Miles Briggs said the party has suffered from protest votes – with some supporters choosing to stay at home rather than back the Tories at the ballot box.

He also said the partygate saga, which saw the Prime Minister, his wife and Chancellor Rishi Sunak fined for a Downing Street gathering during lockdown, was partially responsible for the drop in support.

Miles Briggs said he knew the election would be ‘challenging’ for the Tories (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Archive)

The Conservative vote share across Scotland has dropped, with a number of wards seeing a fall of more than 10% when compared to 2017.

Mr Briggs said: “We knew it was going to be challenging, we’ve known that for a couple of weeks now. I’m personally disappointed with the results which have come in so far.

“Some seats which we won five years ago we are now holding, which is really good to see.

“There’s some good news but it’s really disappointing.

“From the work I did yesterday with my activists here in Edinburgh, it’s quite clear that people weren’t going to go to vote.

“They were protesting voting by not going to any other party, or when they’ve gotten their postal votes they hadn’t returned them and put them in the bin.

Ballot boxes are opened ready for sorting at the Glasgow City Council count at the Emirates Arena (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

“It has depended on how people want to send a message. You either go and vote for someone else or you don’t vote at all.”

When asked if partygate had impacted Tory support, he said: “Yes I think that’s part of it. You can’t deny that and I think speaking to people yesterday they certainly weren’t happy with the actions of the Prime Minster and his team.”

However he said he “thoroughly expects” incumbent Tory councillors in Edinburgh to be returned.

“We will lick our wounds and move on,” he added. “Let’s look back five years ago, that was a tremendous election and one of the most exciting elections I’ve been involved in with the Conservatives.”

Meanwhile, Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken has been re-elected – but the SNP councillor fell behind Greens candidate Holly Bruce in first preference votes in the Langside ward.

Earlier, senior figures in the Scottish Conservatives had told The Times they were expecting “heavy losses” due to partygate.

But former Tory MSP Adam Tomkins described that comment as “nonsense”.

He highlighted that Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross had backed Boris Johnson to remain in post at Number 10.

On Twitter, Mr Tomkins said: “Whatever today’s results show Douglas Ross owns this, not Boris.

“It was Douglas who U-turned, Douglas who flipped, and Douglas who backed the PM. He and his team need to own the consequences, not pass the buck.”

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