THE SNP have come up with an unusual strategy to defeat Tory rivals in a Scottish council ballot.

The party is sending targeted campaign leaflets to Labour voters in Montrose. It’s urging them to stick with Anas Sarwar’s party, while encouraging them to select the SNP as their second and third choices in the vote for Angus Council. Although the ploy contradicts official SNP voting advice, local activists hope it will help prevent Tories from regaining control of the council.

The SNP are the largest group in Angus Council, with nine councillors. But the Conservatives, who won eight seats in 2017, currently run the administration along with LibDem and independent representatives.

Labour, who didn’t win any seats, have a poor election record in the area.

Under the STV system used in council elections, voters are able to rank their favoured candidates on the ballot paper.

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The SNP leaflet reads: “Angus Council has no representation from Scottish Labour and the council is divided between representatives of the SNP and the Conservative/Independent administration.

“The majority of the current administration hold right-wing views and are unsympathetic towards those in our society who are struggling.

“If you are intending to vote Labour in this election then we simply wish to invite you to consider giving your second and third preferences to our SNP candidates.”

Labour candidate John Ruddy shared the letter, quipping “even the SNP” think voters should back his party.

The SNP’s deputy leader in Angus, Bill Duff, told the Courier that his group was aiming to use the voting system “intelligently”.

“Our canvassing has identified Labour voters in Montrose,” he explained. “We are asking them to consider giving their second and third preferences to the SNP as on social policies we are more closely aligned than the current administration.”

Ruddy said he didn’t think the ploy would “hurt” his chances of being elected. He told the Courier: “It’s good they’re pointing out that if you want to have someone who supports social justice and is sympathetic towards those who are struggling then you need to vote Labour 1.”

“The interesting thing for me was it was individually addressed. They’ve obviously got information on Labour voters out there. They are obviously trying to encourage tactical voting in a way.”

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An SNP spokesperson commented: “In Angus as elsewhere, if you want hard-working SNP councillors focussed on helping families through the cost of living crisis you need to vote SNP.”

Scottish Conservative local government spokesman Miles Briggs MSP added: “This is a pretty desperate appeal by the SNP to try to shore up their vote in Angus.

“But it underlines the point that it doesn’t really matter whether you vote Labour or SNP, you’ll still end up with the same thing: a council run by either or both.”