A SCOTTISH Tory MSP has said the party can cause “a political earthquake against the SNP" in Scotland’s council elections by focusing on Scottish independence.

Despite the party’s sustained criticism of the Scottish Government as being too focused on independence, Tory local government spokesman Miles Briggs revealed that the spotlight would be on the Union in May’s ballot.

Speaking to The Herald, Briggs explained that the party would harness pro-Union tactical voting to become “the largest party in local government across Scotland”, with hopes of doubling their tally in Glasgow.

READ MORE: Pro-indyref2 councillor and Cosla president ditches Labour for council elections

He went on: “The council elections are now our opportunity for Unionist voters, especially across Scotland, to use that council election as an opportunity to really cause a political earthquake against the SNP.

The National: Miles Briggs

“Glasgow is a prime example of progress where we went from one councillor for almost 20 years in the city to eight. But we were right on the margin across all the other wards of getting other people elected.

“Pushing on in Glasgow, we can double again our council numbers if we can win these seats.

“It’s going to take that Unionist vote to get behind the Conservatives and they can – with a system of proportional representation – where they’re lending vote and making sure Unionists vote Conservatives with their first preference across west central Scotland and the Central Belt.

READ MORE: Mhairi Black: If Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross had a modicum of self-respect he’d be long gone by now

"It’s a huge opportunity to give the SNP a bloody nose at this election and set the SNP back.”

Briggs added: “Now Nicola Sturgeon is starting her whole campaign for another referendum, if the SNP go backwards at this election, it really sends a message that people don’t want another divisive referendum.

The National: Nicola Sturgeon

“The best way to do that at the council elections is for the Conservatives, as the strongest opposition party, to try to win more seats across what were seen as traditional SNP and Labour areas.

“It’s that Unionist tactical vote that I want to make sure we push for and try to ask people at this council election to consider how to kick out an SNP councillor in all these wards across Glasgow and the Central Belt.”

Briggs claimed that there would be little impact on his party’s votes due to partygate and Boris Johnson’s flouting of Covid lockdown rules – despite the party leaving the Prime Minister off an election leaflet.

The National: Prime Minister Boris Johnson

He said: “I think by and large, the conversations I’ve had since Christmas when we’ve seen these issues really come to the fore, people get that this is a council election.

“I do think we’ve got the most sophisticated electorate across the UK because we are just voting constantly.

“I think voters are acutely aware this isn’t a Westminster election but the constitution is still going to be used by the SNP if they do well.”

READ MORE: Pat Kane: A post-independence Scottish public media would be less prone to collapse than UK's

Briggs claimed the leaflet was aimed at showcasing “new talents”.

He added: “For Douglas, it’s not so much the Prime Minister but him stepping forward. The actual key message was around levels of support in by-elections where Labour and the LibDems have collapsed and continued to go down. Every council by-election, we’ve increased our support.”

Explaining why he does not expect Johnson to be on the election trail, Briggs added: “By and large, I can’t think of any prime ministers who have come to support a council campaign. We want to use this to really get our new MSP group dug in.”

Kelly Parry, the SNP’s council election campaign director, said: “Miles Briggs needs to get out more.

“The only topic of conversation on the doorsteps is Boris Johnson and the fact you can’t trust the Tories, that’s the message voters will be sending in May.

“More and more people are waking up to the fact that Westminster is utterly out of touch with the everyday struggles of people across Scotland.”