A SCOTTISH Tory candidate in the upcoming Holyrood elections has been told he must stop associating himself with “dangerous conspiracy theories” around the Covid pandemic.

The Scottish Greens hit out at Andrew Polson, the current co-leader of East Dunbartonshire council, after it came to light that he had been an active member of the UsForThem Facebook group for the past eight months.

The group, which has over 13,000 members, “has become a haven for sinister conspiracy theories and nasty, sustained attacks on teachers”, according to the Greens.

Among many posts on the group which seem to be genuinely concerned for children’s mental wellbeing through lockdown, are some that claim "the real numbers behind the pandemic" are that there have been "just 200 deaths directly from Covid-19" across Scotland.

READ MORE: Michelle Ballantyne found promoting 'dangerous misinformation' on Covid lockdown

Other posts claim that lockdowns “do not work”, a link is shared almost daily to the “dangerous misinformation” hosted on InformScotland, and members have claimed that the pandemic as a whole is part of a grand conspiracy known as the “great reset”, which is “the systematic destruction of our society” by Government.

Polson, who is running for the Tories in the Strathkelvin and Bearsden constituency in May having come second to the SNP's Rona Mackay in 2016, has posted on the group himself multiple times.

In the run up to Christmas, the Tory councillor shared a video of himself “pleading” for the Government to look at lockdown restrictions and “lift them”.

The National:

More recently, he shared a video of himself calling on the Scottish Government to publish a set timetable for the return to schooling.

The Scottish Tory MSP hopeful has previously had to deny he is an “anti-vaxxer” after he cast doubt on the side effects associated with the Covid vaccines.

In a Facebook post, Polson said he “wouldn’t consider taking [the vaccine] until I see the side effects over three or four years”.

Elsewhere he asked: “Given I think I actually had Covid in Feb after a visit to China and also that I don't like pumping anything I don't need into my body, do you think someone very healthy like me needs it? And if so, why, given I don't take or need the flu vaccine.”

An investigation by The National revealed that Polson had not been to China in February. An East Dunbartonshire Council trip to Beijing took place in late January, but the Tory was not involved. Confronted about this claim, Polson backtracked.

READ MORE: Scottish Tory Holyrood candidate backtracks over Covid immunity claims

The councillor claimed he had been talking about a trip “undertaken at the end of January by the Chief Executive and Provost of East Dunbartonshire Council”.

At the time, a Scottish Conservative spokesperson said their party was “investigating the context” of Polson’s comments.

Now, asked for the conclusions of that investigation, the party told The National: “After investigation, it’s clear he used clumsy language and was referring to a colleagues’ trip to China. Mr Polson has been warned to take more care when posting online to avoid misinterpretations of what he meant.”

The National:

Scottish Greens education spokesperson Ross Greer hit out at UsForThem and Polson's membership, saying the group “has not only tried to reopen schools when it would place teachers and pupils in danger, they have opposed vital safety measures such as social distancing, masks and ventilation”.

He added: “If parents are concerned and looking for support, they could get involved in Connect (formerly the Scottish Parent Teacher Council) or grassroots groups like 5050 In School. I’d suggest that elected representatives like Andrew do the same, rather than further associate themselves with dangerous conspiracy theories.”

Polson removed himself from the UsForThem group after The National approached his party for comment on this story.

UsForThem, which claims to be an apolitical parents group, has recently been ramping up its attacks on the Scottish Greens for their support of teachers and the closing of schools to prevent the spread of Covid.

They have taken aim at MSPs Greer and party co-leader Patrick Harvie in particular.

On Twitter, Harvie shared an article from the Byline Times which delves into the connections UsForThem has to the top levels of the Tory Government and to the Nigel Farage-linked anti-lockdown campaign group Recovery.

In a Facebook post attacking Harvie, UsForThem Scotland claimed this article amounted to “conspiracy theories and Twitter hate”.

Recovery, which was co-founded by Jon Dobinson, who has claimed that “all the evidence shows [lockdowns] are pointless, counterproductive, and incredibly destructive”, has worked closely with UsForThem.

The two groups organised a letter late last year which claimed official data is "exaggerating" the risk posed by Covid-19, that talk of a second wave was "misleading", and that lockdowns are "disproportionate" and "causing more harm than good".

The National: Nigel Farage launched World4Brexit, whose director also founded the lockdown-sceptic group RecoveryNigel Farage launched World4Brexit, whose director also founded the lockdown-sceptic group Recovery

Dobinson is also listed as one of the two directors listed on the World4Brexit scheme launched by Nigel Farage and linked with Donald Trump supporters.

Reform UK, Farage's rebranded Brexit party, claimed at its launch that “national lockdown will result in more life-years lost than it hopes to save”.

The party argues that the majority of “the population should, with simple hygiene measures and a dose of common sense, get on with life”.

This is echoed strongly by UsForThem, who have argued against the use of masks and social distancing measures in schools. It states on its website that “natural immunity” to Covid should be allowed to build in the population and that the process is being impeded by lockdowns.

READ MORE: Michael Russell: Tories must think carefully about associating with Reform UK ideas

The National Education Union (NEU) joint general-secretary Dr Mary Bousted said some of UsForThem’s views were “deeply concerning, particularly the promotion of herd immunity”. “Other views,” she said, “shade into conspiracy theory”.

The Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS) union recently threatened UsForThem with legal action, alleging that the group had been encouraging members to break the law by recording classes. UsForThem denied this and requested that the EIS withdraw the “false” claim.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives said: “Mr Polson does not endorse any conspiracy theories, whatever the source, and he is not a member of UsForThem.”

UsForThem did not respond when approached for comment.