THEY may be rarer than a happy grouse on the Glorious Twelfth, but yesterday Scotland enjoyed a view of that rare species, a Tory with a conscience.

Moray Conservative councillor Walter Wilson walked out of the party after an explosive Tory group meeting that was considering council budget cuts for next year. What he called “right-wing extremists” had proposed mothballing libraries, closing public toilets and even cutting school crossing patrols.

The National understands that the remark which provoked Wilson’s resignation was to the effect that constituents affected by cuts in road gritting “could just move house”.

He told reporters: “I couldn’t just sit there and listen to extreme right-wing views, and it all came to a head when my colleagues were discussing what they wanted to cut.

“It has become clear that my conscience will not allow me to vote for swingeing cuts to services throughout Moray but, more particularly, in my ward.”

Wilson, an accountant by profession, spoke of a “core of right-wing extremists who have made life difficult for some of the Conservatives in the group and the independent members of the administration".

His former Tory colleagues promptly rounded on him. In an open letter, council leader George Alexander said: “Councillor Wilson’s comments in the media are unfortunate, as it will have spread fear and alarm among staff and members of the public.

“Everyone in Moray is aware of the dire financial situation the council is in, and I make no secret of the fact that everything possible is being discussed in order to explore how the budget for 2018-19 can be balanced and essential services maintained. Every council department which is affected by any of our proposals will be informed in the next two weeks, and the possibility of redundancies will be openly discussed with staff. I apologise for the alarm caused by Councillor Wilson’s words, over which I had no control”. Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has not had it easy with her local government cadre, with two Stirling councillors suspended and let back into the party over sectarian and racist tweets. The MP for Moray, Douglas Ross, caused outrage when he missed a crucial House of Commons debate to be part of the refereeing team at a Champions League match in Barcelona.

SNP MSP Richard Lochhead said: “The extraordinary resignation of a councillor due to the repugnant and extremist views of his colleagues lifts the lid on the ugly politics at the heart of Moray Conservative Party. Ruth Davidson must immediately order an investigation.

“Many local people will be troubled that some of the elected representatives who run Moray Council are deemed to be extremists by a colleague who sat in meeting after meeting with them and has now decided he simply can’t stomach their vile views any longer.”

The SNP group, which forms the opposition in Moray, said the Tory group “is riven with infighting and indecision".

Councillor Graham Leadbitter, co-leader of the SNP group said: “It has been clear from the earliest days of this Tory/Independent administration that there have been tensions not just between the Tories and Independents but within the Tory group."