LABOUR has rejected Scottish Tory proposals for a unionist pact at the next general election

Over the weekend, reports emerged of a so-called “vote smart” strategy in a bid to “end nationalist dominance.”

According to the Sunday Times, it would see Labour voters urged to back the Tories in rural parts of Scotland, while Tories support Labour in the cities. 

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An insider told the paper the party had identified an “opportunity to end nationalist dominance” and make the SNP “pay” for ignoring Scottish priorities.

“But that requires Scots to vote smart to maximise tactical voting. That means putting normal party politics to one side and voting for the candidate most likely to beat the SNP.”

“That means, for example, Conservative voters in Glasgow backing Labour, while Labour voters in Aberdeenshire vote for the Conservatives.”

Focus groups held by the Tories in rural seats suggest that there is little evidence of a revival for Labour outside the party’s historical strongholds. 

Tory targets are understood to include Angus, Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock and Gordon.

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Labour’s deputy leader, Jackie Baillie, said the plot was an admission from Rishi Sunak’s party that they had lost the next general election. 

“It appears the Scottish Tories have accepted that they have lost the next general election. Scotland has two failing governments. The next general election is an opportunity to get rid of the Tories and send a message to the SNP — by voting Scottish Labour.”

There was also some push back on the plan from Conservative Campaign Headquarters in London, who did not want the party helping Keir Starmer into No 10.

Tory frontbencher Stephen Kerr appeared to support the plan during an interview with the BBC.

“I think it would be wrong to underestimate the sophistication of the Scottish electorate,” he said. “I think they know exactly what they want. They know exactly how to vote.”

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Asked if the Tories would try to manipulate the Unionist vote, Mr Kerr said he was "absolutely not interested in the word manipulation in any of its forms.”

He said: “The people of Scotland have their priorities. The Conservative Party is committed to delivering those priorities, and when it comes to voting, I think they'll know how to vote to get rid of this Nationalist government.”

Asked what Prime Minister Rishi Sunak might make of the plans, Mr Kerr said the PM was “committed to putting the country first”.

“I don't know about what the Prime Minister knows and doesn't know because I've not been involved in the discussions about what you're reading on the front page of The Sunday Times.

“All I know is as a Conservative, in my DNA, I want to do the right thing for my country.”

SNP Westminster leader, Stephen Flynn, described the plan as a "reunion" for the "dreadful Better Together band."