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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 May, 2005, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
Tory MSP in party breakaway call
Murdo Fraser
Murdo Fraser has put forward the idea of a separation
A leading Conservative MSP has suggested breaking away from the party south of the border.

Enterprise spokesman Murdo Fraser believes the move would end perceptions of being a predominantly English party.

But Tory chief whip at Holyrood, Bill Aitken, dismissed the call and insisted there were distinct Scottish policies which the party needed to push.

Earlier this week shadow Scottish secretary James Gray resigned after calling for MSPs to be abolished.

Mr Gray was forced to quit following a backlash from Tory MSPs to the suggestion Scottish MPs could look after devolved issues at Holyrood on a part-time basis.

We do have this degree of independence of action which is not appreciated by the public
Bill Aitken MSP

Mr Fraser has now suggested that the Scottish Conservatives could create a stronger identity by forming a "separate party, separately funded, with separate responsibility for policy".

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Brian Monteith backed the idea.

He told the BBC's Politics Show: "I think we have to strengthen the perception that Scottish Conservatives are indeed Scottish and have Scotland's interests at heart.

"If that means raising our own money, being more independent, in fact being entirely independent from the British party, then we have to do that, if that's what it takes to win elections."

Mr Aitken said he saw no sense in such a move but did concede efforts were needed to change perceptions of the party.

He said: "We do have this degree of independence of action which is not appreciated by the public, we have got to get that message home to them."

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