Sturgeon slams claims Tory surge could derail indyref2

"The fact is you can not trust the Tories - they're cutting Scotland's budget as it stands and gearing up to inflict more austerity and further hardship in the years ahead", Ms Sturgeon added.

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said the results proved it was the only party capable of challenging the SNP across Scotland in the general election.

Opinion polls giving May's Tories a lead of nearly 20 points over their main rivals, the Labour Party, could be wrong because United Kingdom surveys were misleading in earlier elections, she will say, according to emailed extracts of her speech.

The share of the first preference vote is, in fact, exactly the same as it was five years ago, when the last round of local elections was held.

The Tories are also ahead in Perth & North Perthshire, earning 41 per cent of first preference votes compared to 32 per cent for the SNP.

Internal party data based on how Scotland voted at last week's local government election claims that the party is poised to stage a remarkable comeback north of the border.

"But let's take the Tory argument at face value".

In any event, the change of leadership is likely to create an interesting dynamic with the SNP-run Scottish government, which has frequently been at odds with COSLA in recent years over funding and what councils see as a steady diminution of their responsibilities.

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Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron took his campaign bus to several Scottish seats it hopes to regain.

The poor set of results included Labour losing councils that it had previously controlled outright, but Kezia Dugdale's party came first in three local authorities and has the potential to be kingmaker elsewhere.

The Tory leader will call for a "Herculean" effort from her party as she presents herself as the opposition to SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, saying many are "looking for somebody to stand up" to her. Not only is the Tory revival real (some Nationalists appeared to be in denial about that), but if some of the swings on Thursday are replicated in Westminster constituencies next month then the SNP could lose some senior figures. The cliché is a two-horse race, but it really is and we will be leading Scotland's fightback against the SNP.

"It is only by working flat-out, every day, from now to 8 June that we can gain the trust of the British people and earn their support on polling day".

Nicola Sturgeon has dismissed claims that the surge in Tory support in Scotland could derail her plans for a second independence referendum as "ludicrous".

The analysis also suggests that the party is ahead in Edinburgh South, which is now home to Labour's only MP in Scotland, Ian Murray.

But a resurgent Tory party have said the seat is a key target and have urged Unionist voters to back them. The SNP will fight to protect the interests of the people of Scotland.

Tony Blair's landslide victory 20 years ago all but wiped out Scottish Conservatism, with the party failing to win a Westminster seat in 1997 and never holding more than a single constituency since.

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