A senior Conservative councillor can today be unmasked as the man behind an anonymous anti-SNP troll account that coached unsuspecting members of the public to “tactically vote” for him in May’s Scottish Parliament election.
It is the second administration member on Angus Council to be exposed by us as running such an account in less than a week and is likely to heap fresh pressure on the beleaguered ruling coalition to take action.
Braden Davy, who stood for the party in Angus North and is Angus Council’s economic development spokesman, confessed to running the Angus Against the SNP Facebook page after our investigation uncovered his involvement.
Mr Davy, who stood unsuccessfully for Labour against Alex Salmond in the Gordon constituency in 2015 before switching his allegiances to the Tories, told voters to “vote with your constituency ballot for Braden Davy to stop the SNP” – without revealing he was behind the account.
We revealed last week how Arbroath East and Lunan councillor Derek Wann, the council’s children and learning convener, was responsible for running another anti-SNP troll account named after Lady Whistledown from the popular Netflix series Bridgerton.
Mr Wann, who campaigns against online bullying, used the account to anonymously post disparaging comments about the appearance of prominent female politicians, mock Dundee’s tragic record on drug deaths and argue with members of the public who challenged him as a councillor.
But in a revelation that is likely to throw the already embattled ruling group on Angus Council into further turmoil, we can reveal how his administration colleague, Braden Davy, set up a separate anonymous troll account to fool the public.
The page description on the Angus Against the SNP page reads: “This is a group for everyone in Angus who want to help stop nationalism. We believe we need local politicians focussed on the day job, not more flags.”
Mr Davy appears to have purged content from the page but posts that remain or have been uncovered by us show him repeatedly taking aim at Angus SNP ministers Graeme Dey and Mairi Gougeon – who he described as a “nationalist stooge”.
In another – now deleted – post, he described council colleagues Brian Boyd and David Cheape as “so called Independent councillors” and altered the image to show them wearing SNP badges after they voted for a budget put forward by SNP councillors.
In a post on April 15 titled “tactical voting alert”, Mr Davy told members of the public in Angus North and Mearns they should vote for him “to beat the nationalist public health minister” – a role held by Ms Gougeon at the time.
“If we all act together we can vote her out,” he wrote. “Tactically vote with your constituency ballot for Braden Davy to stop the SNP.
“SHARE: Postal votes are arriving now!”
In a further update on April 18 he told people living in Angus South to vote for his Conservative colleague Maurice Golden but again made no reference to who was really running the page.
After being approached by us for comment, a Scottish Conservative spokesman confirmed Mr Davy has “referred himself to the party and the page’s content is being looked at”.
Mr Davy said: “I was involved in creating a cross-party platform to scrutinise the SNP in Angus. I’ve referred all relevant details to the party.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross is already facing calls to sack Derek Wann for his involvement in the Lady Whistledown account.
An SNP spokesman said the latest revelation involving Mr Davy – who is seen as a rising star for the Conservatives – represents “yet another test of the leadership” of Mr Ross.
He said: “This latest example of appalling behaviour by Tories on Angus Council is indicative of a tendency towards nastiness at the heart of the Scottish Conservatives.
“The party has absolutely nothing positive to offer Scotland so its elected politicians resort to cowardly personal attacks while hiding behind a cloak of social media anonymity.
“There is no place for such behaviour in our politics and it must be rooted out. This is yet another test of the leadership of Scots Tory leader Douglas Ross – a test that, to date, he is failing miserably.”
Mr Davy, who was an assistant director of the Scottish Vote Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum campaign, previously worked as a parliamentary assistant to former Aberdeen South Labour MP Dame Anne Begg.
He stood unsuccessfully in the 2012 Aberdeenshire Council election and quit the party in 2016, later taking on work as a parliamentary assistant and office manager to Conservative MP Ross Thomson.
It caused a row within the party after Mr Thomson turned down a request from then-Tory chief whip John Lamont to abandon the appointment, with the MP’s office manager James McMordie resigning following a “breakdown in relations”.
Mr Thomson was ordered in 2016 to refund a £120 expenses bill for a hotel room shared with Mr Davy following a meeting to discuss possible employment opportunities, which was followed by a drinking session in Edinburgh with friends.