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Sunday, 15 July, 2001, 08:37 GMT 09:37 UK
Tory drive for new faces
David McLetchie
Mr McLetchie: A few more votes could yield results
Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie has said his party needs to appeal more to women, ethnic minorities and young people.

Mr McLetchie believes the Tories should try to create a "party of the talents" to attract more votes.

The Conservative leader north of the border said that a boost of one or two percent in the Scottish Parliamentary elections would increase the number of Tory members at Holyrood.

The party is seeking to build on any momentum gained from the general election victory of Peter Duncan in the Galloway and Upper Nithsdale constituency last month.

Mr McLetchie said: "We currently have 19 MSPs elected on the basis of a 16% share of the vote.

Peter Duncan
Peter Duncan: Only Scottish Tory MP
"A modest increase in our percentage share to 20 at the Scottish Parliament election in 2003 will increase our numbers to 25 and see many new faces on the Scottish Conservative benches.

"Our aim is to increase our parliamentary representation and through that our political influence as the only centre right party in Scottish politics standing against the dreary corporatist consensus of Labour, Lib Dems and the SNP.

Only one Tory MSP, Ben Wallace, is aged under 40, and only three are women.

Mr McLetchie said: "I want to encourage more woman candidates to come forward (three out of 19 MSPs at present), younger candidates (only one of our MSPs is under 40) and candidates representative of the communities of Scotland. I want a party of all the talents.

"I have every confidence in my MSP colleagues and am appreciative of the contribution they have made as part of our parliamentary team over the last two years.

Leadership battle

"I am sure that this will be endorsed by the votes of our members who like me will recognise that we are in the business of replacing Labour, SNP and Lib Dem members with new Scottish Conservative MSPs, not replacing one Conservative MSP with another."

The party, which has to appoint a new leader following the resignation of William Hague, also must find a replacement for departed Scottish chairman Raymond Robertson.

He stepped down last month after failing by more than 9,000 votes to recapture the once solid Tory seat of Eastwood.

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See also:

08 Jun 01 | Scotland
Tory split talks rejected
08 Jun 01 | Scotland
Gain but still pain for Tories
08 Jun 01 | Scotland
Sheridan savours 'new era'
08 Jun 01 | Scotland
Lib Dems left hanging on
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