THE Scottish Tories manufacturing a row over Nicola Sturgeon forgetting to put a face mask on for a few seconds is part of a cynical bid to distract voters from partygate.

It’s no coincidence that a police report was lodged against the FM after a difficult week of campaigning for Douglas Ross - where disgusted voters trashed Tory pamphlets during a botched leafleting session in Edinburgh.

Add to that the numerous Tory council candidates The National have exposed, polling predicting the Tories vote share falling behind Labour in the local elections and the Prime Minister and Chancellor being fined, with reportedly more on the way, for lockdown breaches and boozy partying during the height of lockdown - it has not been the best week to be a Scottish Tory.

Yet instead of campaigning on policies, they have opted for petty politicking instead.

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First Minister face mask ‘breach’ does not equate to partygate

THERE was one person in Scotland given a fixed penalty notice by police for refusing to wear a face covering in the last six months of 2021, the most recent data available shows.

The rule which made this a legal requirement moved into legal guidance on Monday, just two days after the First Minister was filmed in a barbershop in East Kilbride on the campaign trail.

A minor slip is not the same as a Prime Minister enforcing strict lockdown rules on the public whilst not abiding by them himself, and presiding over a systemic culture of drinking, boozing and rule-breaking in Downing Street whilst hundreds of people were dying every day during the height of the pandemic.

The National: The FM has been pictured frequently on the campaign trail wearing a maskThe FM has been pictured frequently on the campaign trail wearing a mask

The Scottish Tories know this - otherwise they wouldn’t have en-masse called for the PM’s resignation before a convenient pre-election U-turn - but they will still take any opportunity to take a dig at the FM to distract from their own woes.

On top of that, one of those who complained to the police was former Scots Tory treasurer Moray Jane Lax - who was suspended from the party in 2019 after a vile tweet about the FM’s miscarriage.

Us for Them, an anti-Covid rules campaign which describes itself as a parents group and is against masks in schools, also picked up on the row by sharing more images of a maskless FM in a bid to stoke further fury.

This is not about public safety - this is point scoring in its simplest form.

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Scottish Tories do not understand irony

THROUGHOUT the pandemic the Scottish Tories have positioned themselves as the party against lockdown - despite Boris Johnson imposing similar rules in England, and other devolved nations keeping rules in place longer than Westminster.

They were furious when the First Minister extended the mask mandate by a few weeks when cases were still relatively high earlier this year, but were quick to criticise when the barber's video emerged.

That they are also trying to claim that the FM set the rules for the public and didn't abide by them, but are currently refusing to criticise the PM for doing exactly that, but worse, is clearly lost on them.

And that wasn’t the only attempt the Tories had this week at attacking the FM - with numerous MSPs sharing the same image of a Volvo saloon in the background of a promotional shoot for an election campaign event, claiming the FM was a hypocrite for her “life of luxury”.

When that fell flat, the Tories took a different tact instead.

But they’ve backed themselves into a corner, the MSP group eerily silent as the news of the PM’s fixed penalty notice emerged, but evidently happy to co-ordinate social media attacks against the FM.

If the Scottish Tories truly believe the public will be easily duped into forgetting the biggest political scandals of our lifetime - or that Ross has any backbone after his U-turn on calling for the Prime Minister’s resignation - then they are in for a surprise on May 6.