A senior Scottish Conservative has warned his party against a coronation in the race to replace Douglas Ross as leader.

Maurice Golden told The Herald on Sunday it was “incredibly important” for the Tories to have a contest.

“We haven't really had an introspective look at our party since Ruth Davidson's election over a decade ago,” he said.

READ MORE: Lib Dems take Charles Kennedy's seat back off SNP

The North East list MSP said he was considering a tilt at the top job, but said there was “lots to weigh up, both politically and personally.”

Mr Ross announced last month that he would step down as leader of the Scottish Tories after the General Election.

His decision to quit came after he upset some of his MSPs by making a bid for Westminster, despite previously promising to commit his energies to being leader of the Tory group at the Scottish Parliament in the run-up to the 2026 election.

What made his colleagues particularly uneasy was the decision to stand in the new Aberdeenshire North and Moray East constituency, replacing David Duguid, who was ousted as the candidate by the Party’s Management Board for being too sick.

Mr Duguid - who is recovering in hospital from an illness affecting his spine - insisted he was well enough to stand.

Mr Ross ultimately lost the seat by 942 votes.

However, the Tories in Scotland managed to hold on to five of their seats. That was despite their share of the vote being cut in half.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross fails in bid to win seat as Reform UK splits vote

Speaking to The Herald on Sunday, Mr Golden said the party needed to ditch its election strategy based on attacking the SNP’s push for independence.

“Well in advance of the election, I think Douglas and Craig [Hoy, the party chair] were predicting double figures. I think that would have been a good night. But, you know, it's a Westminster context. It's first past the post.

“For me, the 'no to indyref' message has, at least for the moment, had its day with the SNP collapse, and that's going to mean a lot of thinking and consideration around how we broaden our appeal and become more relevant to people across Scotland.

“And that's going to mean coming up with a strategy and policy thinking around health, education, agriculture, climate change, justice, that is centre, centre right and is appealing.

“It works across Europe in terms of a centre-right party of government or centre-right coalition government, and there's no reason why that couldn't be in play in Scotland.”

(Image: PA)

Mr Golden said the party north of the border may need to distance itself from colleagues in Westminster.

“I think a lot of the links between the Scottish Conservatives and the wider UK party are perception over reality.

“Ultimately, if that's what people perceive to be the truth, then it's up to us to change that.

“If you look at us, we've got a separate manifesto for UK government elections, a separate candidates list, separation in terms of autonomy over lines we take over differentiation of of policies between the UK party and ourselves, and that's quite right and quite healthy.

“But the fundamental flaw is the perception is that isn't the case, and we have to change that.

“Now, if that requires a distancing or a perceived further distancing from the UK party, then that's something to consider and debate, and I hope we will have the debate around that.”

Murdo Fraser previously suggested a new centre-right party more attuned to the Scottish political landscape as part of his platform during the 2011 leadership contest.

The proposal was roundly rejected by members in the contest.

Asked if that was something the party should revisit, Mr Golden said: “I don't think the creation of a separate party at this time is something I'd be a strong advocate for, but I think it's worthy having a debate about it, what that looks like, how that would function.”

He said the discussion should look at the impact on Tory MPs, particularly when the party is in government.

“It's incredibly important, I think, to have a Scottish MP as Scottish Secretary of State. As a separate party, how would that work?

“So for me, it's a no, but I think there is some work to do around how we're positioned and how we're perceived.”

Mr Golden said he hoped the Scottish party would be a “bit faster out the blocks” than the UK party when it comes to the election of a new leader.

“We want to ideally have our new leader in place for FMQs in September,” he said.

READ MORE: Findlay being lined up to replace Ross as Scottish Tory leader

Last month, the Herald reported that Russell Findlay is being lined up to replace Mr Ross by the "powers-that-be in the Scottish party” who reportedly see the West Scotland MSP as a “continuity candidate" and want to avoid a damaging leadership contest.

However, there are now a number of interested parties. Reports suggest Mr Hoy, deputy leader Meghan Gallacher and West Scotland MSP Jamie Greene are all potential contenders.

Asked if there needed to be a contest or if the party should coalesce around one candidate, Mr Golden said: “I think it's incredibly important that we have a debate and a contest. We haven't really had an introspective look at our party since Ruth Davidson's election over a decade ago.”

Asked if he would run, he said: “I'm certainly considering it. Obviously, there's lots to weigh up, both politically and personally, to be honest.

“It's a massive task being leader of any political party, Leader of Opposition, even more so.

“And you know, there's lots to weigh up, but I'll be doing that over the next few days.”