Sunday, 16 October 2011

Cool, calm, collected

As Paul Hutcheon and I report in today's Sunday Herald, the Scottish Conservative leadership contest has descended into acrimony and chaos, with three of the four candidates calling for an independent inquiry into alleged 'party bias' in favour of Ruth Davidson.

As an aside, here's the response we received from Davidson's camp when we asked for reaction to the inquiry.


Sent: 15 October 2011 16:24
To: Paul Hutcheon
Subject: statement from John Lamont


In response to your queries, here is the statement from John Lamont:

John Lamont MSP, campaign manager for Ruth Davidson, said: ‘The latest attempt to try to smear Ruth Davidson and her campaign with unsubstantiated, false and potentially defamatory accusations is both astonishing and deeply depressing.

No one should be in any doubt that this is a deliberate, vicious and, frankly, desperate attempt to discredit Ruth in the eyes of our members and the general public.

Further, it underlines the hugely disappointing fact that some people are prepared to embarrass the party in a shocking display of naked self-interest.

The accusations that there has been institutional bias by officials within the party towards Ruth and her campaign are utterly false. Those now pressing for an investigation have produced no evidence to support their accusations.

However, not content to let the matter rest, certain journalists have been briefed about private, internal party business in a further, desperate attempt to smear Ruth and her campaign team. 

Certain elements of the media, for their part, appear to be adopting the old tabloid technique of repeating a canard often enough that it eventually takes on the impression of truth.

Despite the growing number and frequency of personal attacks on Ruth, she has been determined not to be brought down to this level and has sought throughout to fight this election on the vitally important issues that currently face the party and our members.

She firmly believes that she is the right person to lead our party through the undoubtedly challenging times ahead as a new face and a new voice that can ensure the generational change we must embrace.

For the sake of the party, we would appeal to all to withdraw these unsubstantiated accusations, to desist from any further attempts to smear Ruth and to get back to engaging with our members on the issues that really matter to them.

Given the clearly unfair and vexatious nature of the campaign being mounted against Ruth by the Sunday Herald and its sister paper The Herald – a campaign driven and fuelled by political opponents – we have decided to bring this matter to the attention of the Press Complaints Commission since we are no longer prepared to put up with this unfair, unjustified and unnecessary distraction.’

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