DOUGLAS Ross has insisted the SNP can be beaten in May’s council elections as he called on activists to “knock the Nats down to size”.

With a month to go until the public cast their votes in local government elections across Scotland, the Conservative leader has claimed that Nicola Sturgeon’s party are “beatable”.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have hit back at a "negative, bitter advert" produced by the SNP ahead of the elections that repeatedly highlights claims of UK Government policy failings instead of pointing to Ms Sturgeon's party's record at Holyood and at the helm of local councils.  

Mr Ross has made a plea to voters to use the ballot to “get rid of SNP councillors who don’t deliver local action because they’re fixated on their nationalist obsession”.

The Tories' local government spokesperson, Miles Briggs, has previously told the Herald that defeating the SNP at the election would send a mesage to the First Minister that Scotland does not want a second referendum on independence.

READ MORE: Tories plan ‘political earthquake’ and send indy message to SNP

Stressing the importance of council elections, Mr Ross said: “The election on May 5 will decide so much of what happens in your community. The future of your streets and your schools is at stake.

“When you’ve been frustrated by overflowing bins and potholes deep enough to stand in – this is your chance to change that.”

Writing in the Scottish Daily Mail, the Scottish Tory leader added: “One month from today, across Scotland, you will have the opportunity to remove the SNP from power.

“The prize is there for the taking. The SNP is beatable.”

He added that, in the council by-elections that have taken place since last May’s Holyrood vote, the Tories had been “only a few hundred votes behind” the SNP in seats across Scotland.

Mr Ross told voters: “In councils across the country, this election is a two-horse race.

“We’ve got one month to beat the SNP so we can get all of the focus onto your local priorities. Help us knock the Nats down to size. On May 5, the power is in your hands.”

But a poll from Survation on behalf of Ballot Box Scotland has suggested the SNP are set to substantially increase their share of first preference votes in May’s election – with the study indicating the party will see its share surge from 32 per cent to 44%.

The poll also shows Labour becoming the second biggest party for first preference votes with 23%, with the Conservatives slipping back into third place on 18%.

The SNP has been criticised after a new campaign advert ahead of the elections fails to mention anything the SNP has done in government or at a local level. Instead, the advert attacks the Tory Government’s record – highlighting Brexit, the cut to Universal Credit, the partygate scandal and claims that UK ministers have not handled the pandemic well.

The advert ends with a character, Betty, throwing a mannequin dressed as a ‘Tory’ on the ground with an assertion “you can trust a Tory about as far as you can throw them”.

HeraldScotland: The SNP election advert attacking the ToriesThe SNP election advert attacking the Tories

In response, Scottish Conservative chief whip, Stephen Kerr, said: “The SNP seem to have made a bet to see how many times they can shout about the Tories.

“Next they’ll be blaming the Tories for forcing them to make such a negative, bitter advert.”

He added: "Clearly they are concerned that even their base is deserting them, if they have to stoop to such personal and unpleasant politics - even for them."

SNP depute leader, Keith Brown, said the Conservatives were "sinking in the polls as the cost-of-living crisis bites". 

He added: “These elections are vital, first to elect SNP councillors who will work tirelessly for local communities. May 5 is also an opportunity to make our voices heard, to send a message to the Tories who are failing families, and cast a verdict on Boris Johnson’s lies, cronyism, and moral failure.

“This latest poll shows that people in Scotland continue to put their trust in the SNP and that positive vision we have for our nation – but there is absolutely no room for complacency as the campaign heats up.
 
“We already know that turnout will be key in this election, which is why the SNP will continue to take nothing for granted - working for every single vote until polling day.
 
“Locking the Tories out of power in council chambers across Scotland means getting out to vote - and voting SNP. It’s hardly surprising to see the Tories sinking in the polls - with dodgy PPE contracts going to party donors, failure to act on the cost of living crisis and the scandal of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street parties still very much on the public’s mind.”