Page last updated at 17:47 GMT, Thursday, 18 January 2007

Cameron defends Goldie's record

Annabel Goldie and David Cameron
David Cameron has been surveying the party's fortunes in Scotland

David Cameron has defended Annabel Goldie after a Conservative Holyrood election candidate called for a change of party leader in Scotland.

Peter Lyburn, who will stand for the Dunfermline West constituency, said the Tories needed to be rejuvenated north of the border.

But the UK leader said Ms Goldie was doing an "excellent job" in Scotland.

The challenge to her authority came as the shadow UK cabinet arrived in Scotland to boost the election effort.

Mr Cameron was speaking as he visited an addiction clinic in Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, at the start of a day of intense Tory activity in Scotland.

He's entitled to his opinion, but I know I am supported by the great majority of my party
Annabel Goldie
Scottish Conservative leader

He praised Ms Goldie's competence.

"To me Annabel Goldie absolutely epitomises that she is the sort of person who will roll up her sleeves, get down to work and make sure the Scottish Parliament talks about the things that really matter in Scotland," Mr Cameron said.

"I think that no nonsense approach is what you get with Annabel and I enjoy working with her."

Ms Goldie - who was elected Scottish leader in November 2005 - dismissed Mr Lyburn's criticism.

"He's entitled to his opinion, but I know I am supported by the great majority of my party," she said.

'Out of context'

Mr Lyburn said someone with a younger vision was needed in the top job.

"I'm not being overly controversial in stating that what the party needs is a rejuvenation in leadership - somebody with a slightly more youthful attitude towards politics," he said.

"It would be wrong for me to throw my hat into the ring before I'm even elected, but I think we've got a large selection of people that are possible candidates."

Annabel Goldie
Annabel Goldie said she had the support of her party

A Tory spokesman said: "The comments were taken completely out of context."

"There was no direct or indirect slight on the leader.

"He was talking about the long-term future and the vibrant number of young members coming in to the part, and the bright future we have."

The Tories day of campaigning in Scotland was hampered by the severe weather.

The start of a shadow cabinet meeting in Edinburgh was delayed when Mr Cameron's journey north was affected.

'Shadow' party

Shadow chancellor also George Osborne came under fire from teaching unions for claiming poor education was costing Scotland jobs.

And rival parties fired opening salvoes ahead of the visit.

Scottish National Party campaign director Angus Robertson MP said: "The Tories' performance in Scotland has gone from abysmal to embarrassing under David Cameron."

Malcolm Bruce, chairman of the Scottish Liberal Democrat election campaign, said: "This is the shadow cabinet visiting the party that lives in the shadows."

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