Goldie pledges more police as Mundell leak row goes on

SCOTTISH Tory leader Annabel Goldie today announced plans for an immediate extra 1500 police to help cut crime as the party attempted to put a lid on the row over a leaked email.

In her keynote speech to the Tories' spring conference in Perth, Ms Goldie was trying to draw a line under the embarrassing revelation of the internal email in which David Mundell, Scotland's sole Tory MP at Westminster, delivered a scathing verdict on Conservative MSPs.

She said: "More police officers in our communities, deterring and detecting crime, is essential for maintaining public confidence. However, under the Lib/Lab pact there are on average only 147 police officers on the beat at any one time in the whole of Scotland. That is unacceptable.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"In New York increased police numbers and high visibility policing led to a huge reduction in crime. It is an example I am determine to follow."

She said the Tory manifesto for the elections in May would include a pledge of an immediate extra 1500 police across Scotland.

However the conference continued to be dominated by the email row.

Some MSPs are said to be ready to refuse to work with Mr Mundell after he claimed there was a "simple lack of thinkers" among the Tory group at Holyrood and that MSPs created more problems than solutions.

One claims his position as shadow Scottish secretary could be at risk.

But a source close to Mr Mundell, who was also addressing the conference today, dismissed any idea of sacking or resignation. The source said Mr Mundell had spoken personally to most of the MSPs and "there wasn't an issue".

The memo sent to UK Tory leader David Cameron last June, in advance of a meeting to discuss Scottish election strategy, said Ms Goldie had been criticised for "lack of activity or strategic thought".

It also warned the Holyrood manifesto was more likely to recycle existing policies than bring forward anything innovative.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Mundell - who withdrew from a scheduled appearance at the conference yesterday - refused to comment on the memo, but insisted he and Ms Goldie had a good working relationship.

He said: "I've every confidence that Annabel Goldie can lead the party into the elections. I am confident she is going to bring back increased numbers."

Asked about MSPs who had reportedly said they wanted to throw him in the River Tay, Mr Mundell said: "I always take comments from colleagues in good heart. We have to have robust exchanges. This is not about personalities.

"I have never criticised individual personalities. I back Annabel Goldie - I have never done anything else."

Sources said Mr Mundell did enjoy a good relationship with Ms Goldie and claimed the memo was more concerned with reporting what was being said than expressing Mr Mundell's own opinions.

One senior MSP said there had been mutterings about refusing to work with Mr Mundell, but he predicted there would be no such move. "Some members of the group may be a little sensitive, but so far as the MSP group in general is concerned I don't think he has anything to worry about."

And the MSP said it was useful to have someone who could give a "straightforward" view of the situation.

Another source pointed out that since Mr Mundell is the only Scottish Tory MP, any new Scottish shadow secretary would have to come from south of the Border.

He said: "If the MSPs did force David to resign, he would be replaced by someone who had never even heard of them."