THE Scottish Tories are under fire for giving Ruth Davidson top billing in their new election TV advert, despite Douglas Ross saying voters wanted to hear from Holyrood candidates.

Ms Davidson, who quit as Scottish Tory leader more than 18 months ago, appeared first and took up most of the party political broadcast last night, while Mr Ross brought up the rear.

Ms Davidson’s prominence was in spite of Mr Ross insisting earlier this week that he is in charge of the campaign, not the UK Tory party.

He said: "I think what people want to hear over the course of the campaign is what those who are seeking to be elected to the Scottish Parliament would actually deliver.”

Ms Davidson is not seeking election to Holyrood, but moving to the House of Lords.

The PPB urged pro-UK voters to back the Tories on the regional list, suggesting the party has little confidence in defending its current constituency seats.

In 2016, the Tories won 24 list MSPs and seven in first-past-the-post seats by acting as a rallying point for Unionists opposed to a second independence referendum.

This time, polls suggest the SNP could have a virtual clean sweep of seats, while the Tories are struggling to stay ahead of Labour, with George Galloway’s pro-UK Alliance for Unity list-only party also nipping at their heels.

Earlier this week, Mr Ross, the Moray MP, denied he was being eclipsed by Ms Davidson, as his predecessor Jackson Carlaw was, after Tory candidates put her on their leaflets. 

Mr Ross also repeated today - as he did on Monday - that Boris Johnson may not campaign in Scotland during the election campaign.

The Prime Minister said earlier this year that “wild horses” wouldn’t stop him, but his unpopularity with Scots voters makes him a potential liability to the Tories.

SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown said: “Running scared of the people of Scotland is becoming a theme within the Tories, with Baroness Davidson herself running away from accountability and scrutiny as she heads off to take up her £300-a-day job in the unelected House of Lords.

"For Douglas Ross, this campaign goes from bad to worse. 

“First, he got punted to the side-lines on their leaflets, then he was a sideshow in their party broadcasts and now Boris Johnson can’t even bring himself to support the campaign. 

“All while the Tories continue to tank in the polls.”

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Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chair Alistair Carmichael MP said: "Despite Douglas Ross having switched positions to back Boris Johnson's Brexit, he's not even being rewarded with a photocall.

"First he couldn't get his priorities into a Conservative budget, now he can't even get the Prime Minister to stand next to him.

"It looks like even the Prime Minister finds Douglas Ross too dark and divisive. Previous Scottish Conservative leaders have been replaced for far less than this."