JACKSON Carlaw has won the support of Nicola Sturgeon in his bid to be the next leader of the Scottish Tory party.

The surprise, tongue-in-cheek, endorsement came as the Eastwood MSP luanched his campaign with a vow to take the First Minister down over the next 18 months.

The SNP leader dismissed this as “tough man talk” and pointed out that under Carlaw’s interim leadership his party had lost most of their Scottish MPs.

In his speech to party activists, MSPs, and councillors, Carlaw said he had been tested over the course of the last two years following his stints standing in for Ruth Davidson during her maternity leave, and again after her shock resignation.

It was confirmed yesterday that he will now face a challenge for the job after MSP Michelle Ballantyne secured the support of 100 party members - though no MPs or MSPs.

In his pitch to the members and supporters who have a vote in the competition, Carlaw promised an “urgent review” of the party’s “current policy offering”.

Each of the party’s positions would, he said, be subject to two tests.

“Firstly, why did we embrace the policy in the first place? What were the circumstances of the time? Is that policy still current, appropriate and fair?

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

“Secondly, does our policy offer advance opportunity, encourage success and inspire effort? Does it secure fairness and security?

“And if this review leads to us leaving some policy positions behind, some even long held positions, then so be it.”

One policy position that almost certainly won’t be binned in the era of Carlaw, is the party’s opposition to independence.

“At the absolute heart of everything we have stood for in this last decade has been an unswerving resolve in support of Scotland’s place at the heart of the United Kingdom,” he told the supporters gathered in Edinburgh’s Dynamic Earth.

“And in 2014 the majority of Scots gave their answer - in a decisive result in a poll which achieved the highest turn out ever, not just in Scotland but in any poll, anywhere in the history of the United Kingdom.

“We won a contest in which all sides promised Scotland this would be a ‘once in a generation’ event. And I’m telling you now, under my leadership, a ‘once in a generation’ event it will remain.”

As he asked for their votes, Carlaw told party members: “I have spent the last 18 months taking on Nicola Sturgeon. I am asking you now to let me spend the next 18 months taking her down.”

Responding to this remark on Twitter, Sturgeon said: “Tough man talk - but didn’t he just ‘take me on’ in the general election and lose half his seats? On the strength of that performance, he’s certainly my favoured candidate for Tory leader!”

Carlaw also made a Proclaimers reference as he gave his pitch, claiming he would "walk 500 miles and then 500 more to take the fight to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP”.

Sturgeon replied to that too, adding: "He’s ‘gonna be the man who’s havering to you’ - honestly didn’t expect this much comedy gold from Jackson’s launch."