David McLetchie, the party's leader in Scotland, praised the Tories' T-shirt campaign, which plays on advertising by the fashion chain French Connection UK. He said the campaign launched by Brian Monteith, the party's education spokesman, had his full approval.
But Annabel Goldie, the deputy leader, was said by colleagues to be appalled. She told The Independent: "I was totally unaware of this nonsense and like many others was never consulted... I have had many calls from candidates and party members complaining about it, none supporting it. This campaign has belittled the very important issue of tuition fees."
In response, Mr McLetchie said: "I was fully supportive of the campaign and of the promotional materials. There is no offensive language in any of our promotional material."
Gerry O'Brien, the party's senior political and media advisor, predicted "one hell of a row" about the campaign, on which he had not been consulted. "This is not a message which I believe will make many Tories laugh." He called it "juvenile" and "deplorable".
Other party officials predicted the campaign would harm Mr McLetchie. One, who found the shirt "highly offensive", said: "The blue touch paper has been lit. This is far more serious than a T-shirt. It is about who runs the party and who is making the decisions the rest of us are having to live with." He predicted that the enemies of Mr Monteith, a Thatcherite, would round on him. French Connection confirmed that its lawyers would be looking at the campaign in case there had been a breach of copyright.Reuse content