WITH the local elections just a couple of days away, the Conservatives are getting their excuses in early as polls suggest that the party is set to lose its second place in vote share in Scotland to Labour amid widespread public anger about Boris Johnson's repeated lies and Covid lockdown law-breaking.

What makes the polling forecast that the Labour Party will overtake them to regain second place even more disastrous for the Tories is that this is not because Labour is expected to do particularly well – but rather because the Conservatives are doing so poorly. 

The Scottish Conservatives are lumbered with a UK party leader in Downing Street whom they themselves described as politically gangrenous and whom their Scottish leader decried as being unfit for office and demanded that he resign.

Later, after Johnson had already been fined by the police for breaking lockdown laws, they performed a humiliating U-turn and cravenly decided that Johnson was, after all, fit for office. Not because of any contrition or penance on Johnson's part, but because it had become clear that the equally craven Conservative backbenchers in Westminster were not prepared to move against the Prime Liar.

They used Putin's invasion of Ukraine as an excuse not to hold a leadership contest even though an international crisis makes it more, not less, important that the British Prime Minister is not a serial liar and law breaker who cannot be trusted and who is held in contempt by European leaders. Those leaders no more believe a word that issues from his lying mouth than we do.

One of the problems for the Conservatives on Thursday is that they performed very well at the last local elections in 2017 when, in the wake of the Brexit result, the buoyant Conservatives took 25% of first-preference votes in Scotland and made significant gains, ending up with 164 more Scottish councillors than they previously had.

The Conservatives now have to defend those gains in a very different and difficult political environment. 

Brexit has proven to be an unmitigated disaster and many of the claims and assertions made by the Conservatives about Brexit have been shown to be lies and fantasies based on nothing more than a delusional British nationalist exceptionalism.

Even though Douglas Ross is sticking by him, Boris Johnson is massively unpopular in Scotland and polls show that a large majority of the electorate believes that he has lied to Parliament and ought to resign.

In addition to their leadership woes, the Conservatives have embarked on a series of attacks on the devolution settlement, allowing the British Government of Johnson to undermine and bypass the Scottish Parliament despite the fact that they do not possess even a pretence of a mandate from the people of Scotland to do so.

Compounding their problems, the British Government is currently presiding over the greatest crisis in living standards for decades.

It is against this backdrop that Councillor Thomas Kerr, the leader of the Conservative group on Glasgow City Council, has broken with Douglas Ross and is calling for Johnson to be forced from office as soon as possible and for an interim leader to take over the Conservatives until a party leadership contest can select a new leader – a process which Kerr believes should be completed by the autumn.

Kerr said that he did not expect to get elected in 2017, and had thought that this year's local election would prove to be a breakthrough for the Scottish Conservatives in local government. Instead, it is shaping up to be a breakdown.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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