Edinburgh Tory candidate's WhatsApp messages spark concerns over suitability to become MSP
Questions have been raised about the suitability of Edinburgh Tory councillor Susan Webber to stand for Holyrood after the revelation of controversial WhatsApp messages in which she said party leader Douglas Ross was “out of his mind” and accused politicians of “creating fear and panic” over Covid.
Earlier this week Cllr Webber won the number two slot on the Tories’ Lothian list for the Scottish Pariament elections in May, virtually guaranteeing she will become an MSP.
She had been endorsed by the Conservatives’ selection panel chaired by Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson and effectively ousted sitting Tory MSP Gordon Lindhurst who failed to win an endorsement and ended up in seventh place on the list with no chance of re-election.
Now The Herald says it has seen a series of messages posted by Cllr Webber in a WhatsApp group for Conservative councillors and the paper quotes party activists branding them “grossly inappropriate”.
One of the messages described Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross as being “out of his mind” for failing to oppose “crazy travel bans”.
Another claimed the media and “many ill-informed politicians” were “creating panic and fear” over Covid-19, alleging the NHS was "not overwhelmed in terms of beds being filled”.
When restrictions were increased ahead of Christmas, Cllr Webber commented: "People die…. more people die in winter”.
And she welcomed the public sector pay freeze, saying it was “about time”. She wrote: “I was thinking of a vote-winning policy called salary sacrifice where they only get 80 per cent and have to struggle like the others on furlough. Then they might want this sorry state to get resolved faster.”
She also referred to the First Minister as "egotistical madam Sturgeon”.
The Herald quotes a Conservative source saying: "It’s clear these remarks are grossly inappropriate and not befitting of any elected representative. Not only are they belligerent but they are also hugely offensive.
"Concerns about Sue Webber’s comments and behaviour have been raised many times over the past few years, yet despite this the party still chose to endorse her as an MSP. Apologies won’t cut it – the party needs to explain why they think she is still fit to stand.”
Cllr Webber has been approached for comment.