A SENIOR Tory politician has claimed that Nicola Sturgeon is a "giant among pygmies" in the SNP.

Conservative Party co-chairman Oliver Dowden said that, while not a “wonderful person”, the First Minister is streets ahead of her “comrades” in terms of leadership credentials.

Speaking at the party's conference in Manchester, the former Downing Street minister took aim at the SNP leader as he outlined his hopes for winning seats in Scotland.

"I do think there's a real opportunity for us in Scotland for a couple of reasons,” Dowden said.

"First of all, Nicola Sturgeon is not going to be there forever and after Nicola Sturgeon the rest of them – I'm not saying in any way Nicola Sturgeon is a wonderful person, but compared to her comrades as it were, she's a giant among pygmies, and so I think as she goes they will be very weakened.”

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The Senior Tory MP then attacked the SNP’s record in Parliament, claiming that Scotland is lagging behind England in key areas of governance.

The National: Nicola Sturgeon

He added: "And secondly, I think we have a real opportunity to focus on the actual delivery of the nationalists in Scotland, which has been completely lamentable – whether it's education, whether it's health, they are falling massively behind the rest of England.

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"Nicola Sturgeon constantly tries to distract from this by talking endlessly about independence.

"We need to bring that focus back on their delivery in Scotland, which is lamentable."

At Westminster, the SNP currently have 45 MPs compared to six Tory MPs, four LibDems, two Alba Party members, one Labour and one independent from the Scottish seats.

In the Scottish Parliament, 64 of the total 129 MSPs belong to the SNP. The Tories have 31 MSPs.

The SNP branded Dowden “ignorant” and said the Tories are “out of touch”.

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