JACKSON Carlaw is set to officially launch his campaign to become the next leader of the Scottish Tories on Wednesday.

The announcement came as the Banff and Buchan MP, David Duguid, became the latest elected member to throw his weight behind the Eastwood MSP.

That now means Carlaw has the support of three MPs, 23 MSPs, 43 councillors, the party’s one MEP, and Scottish peer and minister, Lord Ian Duncan.

The only other candidate in the race, MSP Michelle Ballantyne only has the support of a number of councillors, and failed to win over any other elected politicians, including any of her Holyrood colleagues.

READ MORE: Jackson Carlaw's track record 'exposed' by SNP dossier

However, she is championed by Ross Thomson, the former MP for Aberdeen South.

Hopefuls in the race must first win the backing of 100 party members before nominations close at noon on January 17.

Yesterday Duguid said his support for the current interim leader was about putting the “divisiveness and disruption of multiple referendums behind us” and claimed Carlaw would improve the “position of strength, positivity and optimism for Scotland in the United Kingdom”.

His endorsement came as Carlaw made a pitch to what he described as the “hard-done-to middle class,” those earning more than £27,000 who found themselves paying extra taxes because of the policies of the SNP Government.

Writing in The Mail on Sunday, he said: “I recognise there’s a hard-done-to middle class all across Scotland, who feel that they have been taken for granted.

“The SNP have seen them as a group that they can increasingly tax higher. They have to know that we are on their side. I think of them as part of the blue collar generation.

“They are not rich people.

“They are career nurses who are now in a senior position, police officers, train drivers.”

He added: “It’s hard-working people who feel there are obstacles put in their way to success. The success is penalised and almost even frowned upon.”

Carlaw also said it was time for the party to “look very closely” at its policy agenda.

“A lot of it was designed to the immediate aftermath of the recession and the austerity era, and not really designed to look at the 2020s and the new challenges of this decade.”

READ MORE: Blow for Michelle Ballantyne as Tories support Carlaw as leader

Meanwhile, Ballantyne has said the party needs to change before next year’s Holyrood election.

Writing in The Herald, she said it would be wrong to “pat ourselves on the back for a result that saw our vote share fall since 2017 and saw us lose half of our seats”.

In a scathing attack on the Scottish party’s current leadership, she said the Tories had failed to win over working class areas in Scotland, in the way that Boris Johnson had in England.

She said the party needed to give “Labour voters a positive reason to vote” Tory.

Ballantyne said: “The success across England and Wales can be our success too.

“In those areas where the Conservatives broke through the Labour red wall, we pitched a truly aspirational blue-collar policy offering, which we failed to do in Scotland.”