THE Conservatives are targeting local election success in almost half of Glasgow amid internal expectations of pro-Union king-making offers and damage to SNP ambitions.

Senior Tories have claimed a surge in the polls has led to the party extending its list of target wards by 50 per cent as the campaign acclerates in the run-up to polling day on May 4 .

It comes in a battle still dominated by Labour and the SNP.

The city has not returned more than a single Tory councillor in decades, but the party is now claiming it is the only bulwark to an outright SNP majority on the authority and that, with the unpredictable single transferable vote system, could hold the balance of power.

Key areas include Shettleston in the city’s east end, an area synonymous with post industrial decline and deprivation, and traditional working class areas in the south side.

Both Labour and the SNP have publicly stated they would not enter a coalition, but one Conservative candidate said: “If it came down to a few numbers and the chance of survival, Labour would bite your hand off for a deal.”

The Tories will field candidates in each of Glasgow’s 23 multi- member wards, and are focusing on nine areas they believe they may be successful.

In last year’s Holyrood elections the city returned two Tory MSPs, with its list vote share more than doubling from 12,000 to 29,0000.

City MSP Adam Tomkins said the Tories were picking up support flowing from “the ongoing collapse of Labour”, describing its attempts to cling to power in a city it has run almost exclusively for 70 years as “risibly negative”.

Among its key policy ideas is prioritising the £1 billion City Deal, the package provided by Westminster and Holyrood.

One senior political rival said: “It will only take a handful of Tories on the council to bring some very different dynamics into the mix. They will have a real ‘value for money’ agenda for starters.”

Mr Tomkins said: “The momentum from last year’s Holyrood election, where we doubled the number of Glasgow MSPs, has continued into the local government campaign. We are going to have more Tory councillors in Glasgow than we have had for a generation.

“Everyone expects the SNP to have a good night on May 4 but with the ongoing collapse of the Labour Party, the Scottish Conservatives are also on course for a night to remember in parts of the country, including areas of Glasgow, where just two or three years ago we would never have considered it possible.”

A Glasgow Labour spokesman said: “No ifs, no buts, no deal with the Tories.

“This election is a straight fight between Labour and the SNP. Tories aren’t even standing nearly enough candidates to win.

“The choice is between moving forward with Labour or backwards with the SNP who are obsessed about holding another divisive referendum.”

Glasgow SNP group leader Susan Aitken said: “The SNP is working to win a majority in Glasgow City Council, but Should we fall short of that goal [a majority] we will certainly not be doing any deals with a Tory party that is pushing thousands of Glaswegians into poverty through their ideologically-driven cuts to social security. We’ll leave that kind of thing to Labour.” whose strategy for these elections is to try to cling to power by chasing coalitions with the Tories.

“Tory policies are at direct odds with the social justice ambitions that are at the heart of the SNP’s manifesto for Glasgow.”