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Moray Council leader ‘steps aside’ from Conservative Party over ‘poor behaviour’

Moray Council leader ‘steps aside’ from Conservative Party over ‘poor behaviour’
Councillor Neil McLennan has stepped aside from the Conservatives over poor behaviour in the party and will sit as an independent.

A Scottish Conservative councillor has renounced his party affiliation to sit as an independent over concerns about “poor behaviour” within the party locally and nationally.

Moray councillor Neil McLennan was elected as co-leader of the council just eight weeks ago.

The Press and Journal reported that Councillor McLennan’s colleague Kathleen Robertson, will lead the council on a sole basis.

I have witnessed behaviours within the local party network which do not sit well with me personally nor would appear to fit well with Conservative party values

Neil McLennan

Councillor McLennan said he will reassess issues following the conclusion of the Conservative Party leadership election this autumn.

The Buckie member cited issues in the Conservative Party at a local and national level for his decision including the new education under-secretary Andrea Jenkyns who raised her middle finger to protesters at Downing Street on Thursday prior to Boris Johnson’s resignation.

He said: “I have concerns about the Scottish Conservative Party and its ability to deal with serious issues when they arise.

“Furthermore, locally I have witnessed behaviours within the local party network which do not sit well with me personally nor would appear to fit well with Conservative party values. Some issues have been reported to the national party with no action taken thus far.”

Councillor McLennan said Ms Jenkyns “should be a role model”, adding: “The newly appointed education (under-)secretary has added to the rot by her wholly inappropriate gesturing outside Downing Street.

“As an educator, I feel she is in a post that should be a role model and is entering one of the most hallowed locations in world politics.”

He also accused Boris Johnson of “double standards” over the partygate scandal and his handling of various misdemeanours.

Councillor McLennan added: “I noted consistently my views that Boris had to go after not only doing wrong, something we can all do, but covering up and exhibiting double standards does not sit well, and justifiably so, with the electorate.”

However, the Scottish Conservatives say Councillor McLennan was removed as group leader following a vote of no confidence.

A spokesperson for the party said: “Councillor McLennan was removed as group leader following a vote of no confidence by the Conservative group, after concerns were raised over his behaviour by councillors both within and outwith the Conservative group. We have accepted Councillor McLennan’s resignation from the group.

“The Party takes all reported allegations seriously and these are investigated under due processes.

“Our group of councillors will continue to remain fully focused on delivering on the priorities of the people of Moray, just as they have been since forming the council’s administration in May.”