JACKSON Carlaw has launched his bid to become the next leader of the Scottish Conservatives with a vow to take down Nicola Sturgeon at the 2021 Holyrood election.

The Eastwood MSP said he was the best candidate for the job and that he, unlike his only rival Michelle Ballantyne, had been tested.

The First Minister laughed off Carlaw’s comment as “tough man talk”. She pointed out that under his interim leadership the Tories had lost most of their Scottish MPs.

In his speech to party activists, MSPs and councillors, Carlaw said that he had shown himself capable of being leader following his stints standing in for Ruth Davidson during her maternity leave and again after her shock resignation.

It was confirmed on Tuesday that he will face a challenge for the job after fellow MSP Ballantyne secured the support of 100 party members.

READ MORE: Michelle Ballantyne releases Scots Tory leadership campaign video

In his pitch 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?

“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.”

It’s understood this could mean looking again at the party’s policy on tuition fees.

There were also promises to look at tax cuts for “middle Scotland”, those earning more than £26,000, working in professional jobs such as teaching, the police or nursing – who he described as “not Scotland’s affluent elite”.

He also promised to scrap the workplace car park levy.

One policy position that almost certainly won’t be binned if Carlaw gets the top job is the party’s opposition to independence.

The National: Nicola Sturgeon says Jackson Carlaw is her favoured candidate after the Scottish Tories lost half their MPs under his stewardshipNicola Sturgeon says Jackson Carlaw is her favoured candidate after the Scottish Tories lost half their MPs under his stewardship

“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 turnout 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!”

READ MORE: First Minister brands Jackson Carlaw campaign launch 'comedy gold'

Meanwhile, writing in the Scotsman, Ballantyne said her working-class roots could help the party attract voters.

“Since I launched my bid to be the next leader of the Scottish Conservatives, I have promoted my sincerely held belief in leading a blue-collar revolution, I want re-invigorating and aspirational policies that will help improve the lives of working people across Scotland and help them to succeed," she wrote.

In what could be interpreted as a dig at her privately educated rival, Ballantyne added: “I am shaped by my life experience.

“Being a nurse, businesswoman, charity worker, and working mother. I know that real life experience matters when you are reaching out to voters who still feel like they cannot vote for us."