One trick pony Tories are heading for a fall with their focus on independence

“I have been inundated today from friends really fed up with letters about independence...” So one candidate for the forthcoming council elections has said.

His complaint was not aimed at the SNP, who are campaigning purely on local service issues – including our commitment to double the hours of free childcare.

No. This was aimed at the Conservatives, whose entire council election campaign swings on the constitution.

The frustrated comment about the Tories’ union obsession was made by one of their own. The councillor in question is Dennis Male, formerly the Tory member for Langholm, Dumfriesshire, in the heart of the ­constituency of David Mundell, Scotland’s only Tory MP.

Recently, he shared a letter he and other voters had received from Mundell, supposedly about the local elections.

Except that it did not contain a single line about local issues or how the Tories would deliver council services. It was headlined, “No to a Second Independence Referendum.”

The first paragraph continued the theme: “The council election on May 4 is a clear opportunity to send a message to Nicola Sturgeon – No to a second independence ­referendum.”

Paragraph two promises the council candidate will “be a strong voice against any plans brought forward to break up our United Kingdom”. The next has variations on the theme of, “Stop the SNP”.

Call me old fashioned but I thought you elected a local councillor to be a strong voice for the local community, not to sound off about the precious union uber alles.

Male, who is now standing as an independent against his former colleagues, is appalled at this swing towards ideology over community.

He says recent Tory election materials “are devoid of any local thought and relying on political rhetoric written for them by out of touch national politicians”.

There are certainly plenty of local issues to discuss in Langholm – a former textile town whose last mill shut its doors five years ago.

Aside from the local economy, there is sheltered accommodation for the elderly, urban regeneration, empty shops, the flood risk proposals, opportunities for young people and, of course, potholes.

Read the rest of my column here.

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