Tories under pressure to investigate Moray group as quitting councillor brands colleagues “extremists”

Caitlin Logan

Moray councillor resigns amid dispute with Tory colleagues over severe public sector cuts

SCOTTISH CONSERVATIVE LEADER Ruth Davidson has been called on by Moray’s SNP MSP Richard Lochhead to investigate Moray council group after councillor Walter Wilson resigned from the Conservative Party in protest against the council’s proposed budget and accused former colleagues of having “extreme right-wing views”.

Wilson, who resigned from the party on Monday night and plans to remain in the council as an independent member, accused his Tory colleagues of risking public safety in an effort to save money with plans to cut libraries, community centres, public toilets, and all lollipop people across Moray.

Wilson said: “I am no longer a Conservative, which was a tough decision to make. But I couldn’t just sit there and listen to extreme right-wing views, and it all came to a head when my colleagues were discussing what they wanted to cut.

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“It felt like Speyside Glenlivet was going to be badly affected, and it led to a big argument and some irreconcilable differences. I just said that was it, I couldn’t vote for a budget like that.”

Wilson was elected to the council in May this year along with seven other Conservatives who lead the council in coalition with six independent members.

He said that “a core of right-wing extremists” in the council had made life difficult for some of the Conservative and independent councillors, and told of colleagues quipping that constituents affected by a change in road gritting could move house.

SNP MSP for Moray Richard Lochhead has called on Ruth Davidson to investigate her Conservative colleagues in Moray as a result of Wilson’s claims.

He said: “The extraordinary resignation of a councillor due to the repugnant and extremist views of his colleagues lifts the lid on the ugly politics at the heart of Moray Conservative Party.

“This latest revelation comes so soon after local Conservative MP Douglas Ross was in the news because of his own intolerant views against minorities. Ruth Davidson must immediately order an investigation into her Moray organisation.

“Many local people will be troubled that some of the elected representatives who run Moray Council are deemed to be extremists by a colleague who sat in meeting after meeting with them behind closed doors and has now decided he simply can’t stomach their vile views any longer.”

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Moray council leader, George Alexander, an independent, confirmed that the proposed cuts would be made public in December and admitted “I don’t think that will be a nice Christmas present for people”.

However, he said: “Mr Wilson is the first councillor to balk at having to do this, but we were all aware of how unpleasant a task balancing the budget would be.”

Conservative councillor Marc Macrae hit back at Wilson by saying he “would question whether politics is for him”.

Macrae said: “It has started to get hot and Mr Wilson has left the kitchen, you need to have a thick skin in politics.

“This will be a tough budget for Moray, but no ward will be disproportionately affected and we will consult on the proposed cuts.”

A Scottish Conservative Party spokesman responded: “After the events of the last few weeks, the only investigation the SNP should be demanding is one into its own affairs.”

Picture courtesy of Scottish Parliament 

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