As readers learnt this morning, Michelle Ballantyne has been announced as the new leader of Reform UK Scotland. You’re either in front of Guido or behind…
At the launch, Richard Tice also set out some of Reform UK’s policy proposals going forward, including:
Mostly a copy and paste job from the Brexit party’s already thin 2019 manifesto…
Farage and Tice’s recently-approved Reform UK party is heading to Scotland this morning to unveil their Scottish branch this morning, with Tice promising to announce a mystery leader and outline their blueprint for the Holyrood elections (whenever they may be). The secrecy over who will lead the party’s efforts north of the border smells like a classic defection moment, à la Carswell and Reckless.
While there’s rumour of a Tory defection, Guido notes independent MSP and former Scottish Tory leadership candidate Michelle Ballantyne has been singing from the Faragian hymn sheet since she quit the Conservative whip a month ago – the defection of whom would result in the party’s first MSP. Expressing her thoughts on lockdown to one constituent on Facebook she argues:
“I share your feelings, the damage being done is irreconcilable with the impact of the virus. Parliament handed a mandate to the Government to make decisions without consultation (I was guilty back then of following the whip, I have since resigned to vote as I believe fit).
“There doesn’t appear to be any balanced analysis. The average age of death with Covid (I’m told that just having a positive test is enough to make someone a Covid death) is around 83 and yet we are willing to sacrifice the lives of our young people, it makes no sense.
“I wish I could offer you more hope but there seems to be a collective madness in politics at the moment that sets anything other than Covid deaths aside as sad but necessary collateral damage.”
Michelle – who is usually more than happy to chat to Guido – is keeping quiet…
Acting leader Jackson Carlaw romped home to victory on 76% of the vote, cementing a position he has effectively held on and off since Ruth Davidson’s maternity leave. The full results are as follows:
Challenger Michelle Ballantyne has congratulated Jackson on his victory.
Congratulations to @Jackson_Carlaw on being elected leader of the @ScotTories— Michelle Ballantyne (@MBallantyneMSP) February 14, 2020
Thank you so much to all those who voted for me and a heartfelt thank you to my #BackingBallantyne team
Now our party must come together to show the real alternative to the SNP and beat them in 2021 pic.twitter.com/r0kpezB0dj
A scandal is brewing north of the border as an internal Tory email has found its way into the pages of the Daily Record. The shocking content? That a Tory leadership contender praised the most successful Tory leader since the war…
The most curious thing about the incredibly weak attack piece is that it comes just days after rank-outsider Michelle Ballantyne sought inclusion on the ballot for the Scottish Tory leadership to force the acting (and unelected) leader Jackson Carlaw to be put through his paces by the membership.