Paul McBride resigns from Tory party

Paul McBride QC felt benefits-seizing measures were called for. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA
Paul McBride QC felt benefits-seizing measures were called for. Photo: Danny Lawson/PA
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LEADING QC Paul McBride, one of the Tory party’s most high profile supporters in Scotland, ditched his party membership yesterday just hours after its new leader was elected and following a row over its failure to back a crackdown on sectarianism.

The lawyer, who was once tipped as a possible Conservative advocate general at Westminster, yesterday sent a letter to the party’s chairman Andrew Fulton stating that he no longer wished to continue his membership of a party which “stands for nothing and opposes everything”.

His resignation follows the controversy over the introduction of new anti-sectarian legislation by the Scottish Parliament. Celtic supporter McBride, who was sent a letter bomb at a time when Catholic supporters were being targeted, wants to see tough new laws introduced to tackle the problem.

However, Tory MSPs last week opposed the two new offences which the Scottish Government wants to bring in for football related sectarianism.

McBride said: “This was a party whose whole cabinet was almost destroyed by the IRA and they are refusing to criminalise people singing songs celebrating the IRA.”

Although McBride used to advise the Scottish Tories on criminal justice issues, he has frequently found himself at odds with the party in recent months.

He was furious after the Tory justice spokesman, John Lamont, blamed the west of Scotland system of segregating children into Catholic and non-denominational schools for overseeing what he called “state-sponsored conditioning of sectarian attitudes.” McBride publicly supported Jackson Carlaw in his bid to succeed Annabel Goldie as leader of the party and he last night dismissed new leader Ruth Davidson’s chances of reviving the party in Scotland. “They have a leader who has no policies and little experience apart from having been on television about as many times as I have,” he said.

“Alex Salmond must be thrilled. The Scottish Conservative party stands for nothing and opposes everything, they are in terminal decline. At least the SNP are trying to do something about sectarianism and the alcohol culture in Scotland. They may not succeed but they are making an effort to do the right thing.”

McBride became one of the Conservatives’ best-known supporters following his defection from Labour two years ago. He has spoken for the party on justice issues in the past and he took part in a party political broadcast for the party in the run up to the last general election. He said he had no plans to join any other political party following his resignation.

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservative party said: “We don’t comment on internal party matters.”