Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has been described as “hopelessly weak” after defending a series of “out of touch” Tory prime ministers.
The claim was made by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton ahead of campaigning in Ross’ Moray constituency on Saturday.
Cole-Hamilton will join Liberal Democrat activists in the North-East as he bids to increase support for the party.
He has set out an aim to increase the number of councillors for his party across the country from 87 to 150 in the next four years.
The Scottish Conservatives hit back at Cole-Hamilton, describing his claim of taking the fight to the SNP as “laughable” as they said the Liberal Democrats are too weak to stand up to Nicola Sturgeon’s party.
They insisted that only the Scottish Conservatives can be trusted to stand up to the First Minister’s plans for another independence referendum.
Speaking ahead of joining activists campaigning in a number of target council wards, Cole-Hamilton said it is “no accident” that he will appear in the backyard of the Scottish Conservative leader.
“The roots of our movement lie in our communities, in public service and in local government. In May this year, our revival began there too with big gains at the council elections,” said Cole-Hamilton.
“When pundits told us we’d slip backwards, we grew our council base by nearly a third. Now I want us to achieve more.
“Over the past two years, Liberal Democrats have shown that we can come from behind to win stunning victories against the Conservative Party, so it is no accident that I am kicking off this strategy in Moray, the backyard of the Scottish Conservative leader.”
Cole-Hamilton claimed that Ross “will never lead Scotland”, as he criticised Ross’ defence of Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy.
He said: “Douglas Ross has shown himself to be hopelessly weak. He’s defended a series of hopelessly out of touch prime ministers, his parliamentary performances are embarrassing and his MSPs openly plot to replace him.
“Scotland needs politicians who can not only take the fight to Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP but also win over those who are undecided.
“By doubling down on the Brexit nationalism of Boris Johnson, Douglas has demonstrated that he will never lead Scotland.”
The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader appealed to voters to give their backing to his party.
“My message to voters is this – Back the Liberal Democrats and you will see a return on that investment for you and those around you,” he said.
“Put your faith in us and we will work our hearts out for you. Liberal Democrats will be out there working to change the direction of the whole UK.”
A Scottish Conservative spokesman said that the Liberal Democrats are “irrelevant”.
“It is laughable to hear Alex Cole-Hamilton talk about taking the fight to the SNP,” they said.
“The Liberal Democrats are far too weak to stand up to the nationalists and even agreed a deal to put them into power in Aberdeen earlier this year.
“They are so irrelevant that the Scottish Parliament no longer even considers them a party.
“Only the Scottish Conservatives – Scotland’s real alternative – can be trusted to stand up to Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for another independence referendum next year and get the focus onto the right priorities for Scotland.”