Tory conference

Sunak to make oil and gas pledge amid poll slide

Rishi Sunak at Tory conference in Glasgow
Rishi Sunak: Scotland is at the core of the UK’s success (pic: Terry Murden)

Scottish Conservatives gather for their annual conference in Aberdeen today as a new poll shows support for the party at its lowest since Liz Truss’s disastrous premiership.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will arrive in Scotland’s energy capital with the new survey for Quantum Communications revealing his party on just 15% of the vote, down one point since January.

The poll, conducted by Survation, puts the SNP on 38% (up two points), Labour on 33% (down one point) and the Liberal Democrats unchanged at 8%.

It found the SNP has a 22-point lead in the northeast of Scotland with almost twice the numbers of supporters than Labour and the Conservatives in third place.

It comes at a time of fractious debate over oil and gas and tensions over the war in the Middle East. Last night’s victory for Palestine campaigner George Galloway in the Rochdale by-election which will stir the mix further. Mr Galloway will take his seat in the Commons for Workers Party of Britain.

Mr Sunak will attempt to rally his party which still believes it can pick up votes from Labour supporters disillusioned by Sir Keir Starmer’s plan to increase the windfall tax on oil and gas company profits.

Speaking ahead of his trip, Mr Sunak said: “Scotland has an abundance of ingenuity, talent and hard-working people, people who are at the core of our United Kingdom’s success.

“That is why my Government remains steadfast in its support of the 200,000 high quality UK jobs that depend on our North Sea oil, gas and energy sector – with nearly half of those jobs in Scotland alone.”

The Prime Minister insisted he would “always stand up for our country, our United Kingdom” as he vowed to back the oil and gas industry “so we can build a brighter, greener future for Scotland”.

He continued: “We have a plan to transition to net zero and my Government will always take the right long-term decisions to ensure that we do so in a pragmatic and proportionate way, that doesn’t burden hardworking Scottish families, proving once again, only the Conservatives can be trusted to protect Scottish jobs and livelihoods.”

Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary, Ian Murray, claimed the Prime Minister was making a “desperate trip north to rally the fragments of the Scottish Tory party.

“It is clear that the people of Scotland are ready to boot the Tories out of power for good. This chaotic and damaging Government offers the people of Scotland nothing but more economic turmoil, incompetence and dangerous political brinkmanship.”

Mr Murray said a Labour government would deliver a “proper windfall tax” on energy firms along with 50,000 clean energy jobs in Scotland.

David Whitehouse, chief executive of Offshore Energies UK, said: “At the Scottish Conservative conference in Aberdeen OEUK will continue to make the case that we must unlock investment in the offshore energy sector.

Despite attempts to present a confident outlook, the Conservative party is facing annihilation in Scotland which is likely to set off some soul-searching about its future and its leadership.

While Scottish leader Douglas Ross retains support within the ranks, there has been some disquiet over his confrontational tactics at Holyrood, particularly towards the SNP which has on occasions turned ugly.

See also:

SNP attacks ‘Tory whisky tax’ weeks after raising MUP

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