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Monday, 5 September 2011

Tory MSP Defiant Over Breakaway Bid

A Tory politician who announced plans for a breakaway party in Scotland without consulting Prime Minister David Cameron insists he has the political and financial support for a "new dawn" despite being rejected by the party's biggest Scottish donor.

Murdo Fraser launched his bid to lead the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party (SCUP) in Scotland on Monday with a pledge to disband it and create a new centre-right party north of the border.

The Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP has been accused of "dividing the party" and sparking a "civil war" by opponents within and outside the Conservative Party.

Mr Fraser said he has not discussed his plans with Mr Cameron as it would be "inappropriate" for the leader of the UK Conservative Party to take a position in a Scottish leadership election.

He also dismissed claims by his main leadership rival, West of Scotland MSP Jackson Carlaw, that a rejection by the party's biggest Scottish donor was "a fatal blow" to his leadership campaign.

Sir Jack Harvie, the transport tycoon and philanthropist, said Focus on Scotland, the vehicle which currently provides the majority funding for the SCUP, would not extend its funding arrangement to Mr Fraser's party

Speaking at the launch, Mr Fraser expressed disappointment with Mr Harvie's comments but said he has received support from others in the business community.

He said: "I can tell you that among existing donors to the party there is a deep sense of disillusionment, that the money that they have given to the party in recent years has not been well spent.

"They have been paying for successive campaigns with absolutely no political progress and there is a great deal of appetite for a new centre-right force in Scotland amongst people in the business community."

Mr Fraser has already gained the support of airport car park magnate John McGlynn, engineering tycoon Jim McColl and property developer Robert Kilgour for his plans.

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