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Last Updated: Friday, 4 November 2005, 16:09 GMT
Goldie cool on Tory power-share
Annabel Goldie
Ms Goldie said attracting more voters was crucial
Scottish Conservative Party leadership hopeful Annabel Goldie has distanced herself from calls to form a coalition in the quest for power.

Tory MEP Struan Stevenson said the party should consider teaming up with the SNP to topple Labour.

But Ms Goldie, who has launched a joint-ticket leadership nomination, said the Tories must concentrate on attracting more voters.

SNP leader Alex Salmond said there was no chance of an SNP/Tory coalition.

Mr Stevenson said the new Tory leadership at Holyrood should explore common ground with other parties and he wants a referendum on the issue to gauge opinion on a power-sharing deal.

Ms Goldie, the deputy leader and MSP Murdo Fraser, announced a joint-ticket leadership nomination to replace David McLetchie.

Struan Stevenson MEP
We have to be prepared to talk about coalition and that means, of necessity, talking to the SNP, the Liberal Democrats and perhaps even the Greens
Struan Stevenson
Tory MEP

The contest was sparked when Mr McLetchie resigned as Tory leader on 31 October following a row over expenses claims.

Ms Goldie said the Tories must concentrate on attracting more voters in Scotland before considering teaming up with other parties.

She added: "My instinct at the moment is that from all that I've heard and seen as I've gone around Scotland is that we need to make far more friends among Scottish voters before we even give thought to whether or not we want to make any friends among opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament."

However, Mr Stevenson said the Tories should take radical steps in the pursuit of power at Holyrood.

"We have to be prepared to talk about coalition and that means, of necessity, talking to the SNP, talking to the Liberal Democrats and perhaps even the Greens," he said.

"We need to look at getting a coalition together that could oust Labour and pull away its stranglehold that it's had on Scotland for far too long."

SNP leaer Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond: "No scope" for coalition deal

He said the Tories were the only mainstream party going into Holyrood elections saying "vote for us we want to be in opposition" while the other parties sought power.

"Just having more MSPs so we can be a more robust opposition is frankly a betrayal of all the centre-right natural constituency that we should be appealing to in Scotland," he added.

BBC Scotland political correspondent Glenn Campbell said a new political reality in Scotland meant the Tories, with only 18 MSPs, had no real prospect of securing an overall majority at the next election.

'Few surprises'

Mr Salmond said there was "no scope" for the SNP entering a coalition with the Conservatives "because of the Tories' anti-Scottish attitude and leopards don't change their spots".

He added: "The Tories haven't changed the anti-Scottish nature of their politics."

A spokesman for Scottish Labour said: "It will surprise few people that the SNP and the Tories are considering jumping into bed together.

"They share a number of important policies positions. Neither party is progressive, economically literate nor have Scotland's best interests at heart."

Mr McLetchie resigned after mounting pressure over his Holyrood taxi expenses.

The Edinburgh Pentlands MSP spent 11,500 during five years - more than any other MSP - but said the claims were made in good faith.

Tory MEP calls for party to enter coalition

Top Tories make deal over leader
02 Nov 05 |  Scotland
Tories embark on leadership hunt
01 Nov 05 |  Scotland
McLetchie resigns as Tory leader
31 Oct 05 |  Scotland


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