DOUGLAS Ross has insisted his party is in for a successful result at the local elections despite polls predicting the Tories will fall behind Labour.

The Scottish Tory leader dismissed polling like the one conducted by Ballot Box Scotland that showed a 3% boost to the Labour party’s vote, and a drop of 7% for the Tories.

Ross, who was speaking at a press huddle for print journalists after many were excluded from the SNP’s campaign launch on Friday, was also probed on whether or not partygate and his U-turn on calling for the PM to resign will have an impact on the vote share.

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The Moray MP also refused to accept that this will have an impact - stating that voters are more concerned about local issues such as bin collections.

Ross was asked how worried he is by a number of polls which have suggested the Tories will fall behind Labour.

He said: “In terms of the polling, look I think every single huddle I did at this stage last year I was asked are you going to slip behind Labour into third place, that’s what the opinion polls are saying and we had our best ever result for a Holyrood election.

“We increased our vote by over 100,000 and Labour yet again lost votes and lost seats and delivered their worst ever result in a Scottish election.

Douglas Ross insists Tories will not fall behind Labour in local electionsRoss said he was confident Labour would not overtake the Tories in the local elections

“We’ve also got to look at what happened in the last year, in the council by-elections we are pretty much neck and neck in terms of first preference votes with the SNP, we both got 14,000 votes across those 20 odd by elections.

“Labour are down 5500, they’re miles behind, in some cases they couldn’t even find candidates in these by-election.

“So I think the questions are very similar to last year and I’m very confident the answer will be the same, people will see the Scottish Conservatives as the only alternative to the SNP. “

Ross was later asked to clarify if he was confident the Tories would stay ahead of Labour.

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He said: “I’m very confident based on the results that we’ve had in council by elections over the last 12 months and the fact that Labour less than a year ago had their worst election result.”

The National asked Ross about the reaction he had been getting on the ground - having found during speaking to voters during our series of features on each Scottish council ahead of the vote, that the issue was on the minds of the public.

We asked if he was worried if his U-turn on calling for the PM to resign will have an impact on the Tory vote share.

Ross is currently isolating with Covid and noted he had some catching up to do speaking with voters.

Douglas Ross insists Tories will not fall behind Labour in local electionsRoss, who is isolating with Covid, held a virtual press huddle on Friday

He said: “Certainly when I’ve been out so far, for example, in Stirling, this issue just didn’t come up. What they were speaking about were the changes to the bin collections, so there’s been a huge change there in Stirling and it’s what people understand their local council are elected to deliver.

“It’s your bin collections, your street lights, your local roads, your schools, social care and things like that, so I think people understand this is a local election.”

Asked again if that meant he wasn’t concerned by partygate and the PM impacting on votes, Ross said: “You asked me what are the issues and what I’ve picked up so far are the issues are local issues for local candidates and local councillors to address after the election on the 5th of May.”

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He added: “National issues will undoubtedly come up as well, but when people go to the ballot box on May 5th or return their postal ballot they’re also thinking about what’s the best deal for their local area, where are they going to get the best range of services for their council tax, who is going to stop council tax increases that we’ve seen in many parts of Scotland?

“So those are the issues that I think are at the forefront of people’s minds but national issues will also come up while they’re having discussions with local candidates as well.”