THE leader of the Scottish LibDems has said Scotland is in the “end game of the clash of nationalisms” as he launched his party’s campaign for the 2027 council elections.

In his first conference speech as leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton made overt entreaties to Scottish Green voters, launched a commission on male violence – to be chaired by deputy leader and former police officer Wendy Chamberlain – and announced a goal of returning 150 councillors in the next local government elections in just under five years’ time.

Cole-Hamilton, who is one of the party’s four MSPs at Holyrood, said: “We will lift our vote across the country and in each of the coming parliamentary elections by starting our campaign for the 2027 council elections right here, right now.

He added: “We will grow from the 87 councillors we won in May and return 150 or more. We’ve identified the wards, we just need people to fill them.”

He also predicted a shift away from the focus on the constitution.

“I believe that we are at last in the end game of the clash of nationalisms that has held this country back for so long,” he told the assembled delegates in Hamilton.

“We may finally be nearing a time where the constitution no longer suffocates our politics.”

Despite his party’s opposition to independence, that does not mean they are comfortable with the status quo, the leader said, laying out the party’s long-standing support for a so-called federal UK.

Cole-Hamilton said he predicts there will be “common ground” between he and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar on the issue.

Success for the party has, in recent years, been “out of reach”, the leader told party activists, with the LibDems spending most of the past decade fighting for survival after their time in coalition with the Conservatives at Westminster.

But, he added, “change is coming”.

“The old order of things is falling away and that better Britain is sight, we only have to reach for it,” he said.

“Our renewal has already started, we should leave this place with growing confidence in our message, our candidates, and in our strategy.”

The LibDem leader also pushed for Green voters who do not believe in independence to migrate to his party, saying: “I want to say something to the thousands of green voters who feel abandoned. Who care about social justice and sustainability, but reject the idea that the answer to any of the global problems we face can be found in a border or a flag.

“Look to the Scottish Liberal Democrats, you have a home with us.”