Scottish Conservatives: Douglas Ross’s Scottish Conservative Manifesto Launch Speech

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Full text of Douglas Ross’s speech today to launch the manifesto:

Good morning and thank you all for coming.

It is great to be here to launch the Scottish Conservative Manifesto today.

A document that is laser-focused on your priorities.

That sets out a clear vision of how Scotland and the whole of the UK can move forward together.

How we can grow our economy, rebuild our public services, and tackle the issues that really matter to communities across the country.

It is a document that steps up to the big challenges that Scotland faces today instead of shying away and kicking the can down the road.

And offers solutions that can make a difference to the lives of people up and down the country.

Because this election could not be more pivotal in Scotland.

We stand at a crossroads.

Either we can continue on the same road we have been on since the 2014 independence referendum. 

And continue to keep fighting the same old, tired debate for another five years.

Or we can choose, as a nation, to change course.

To finally bring an end to the decade of division – and move forward to solving the everyday issues that people across Scotland face.

Like how we clear the record patient backlogs in our NHS.

How we get Scottish education back up international rankings

Or how we deliver our transition to net zero without decimating North East livelihoods and our economy.

And we have a unique once-in-a-generation opportunity to change course.

Because, the SNP have put their political obsession with separating our country on the line.

John Swinney has produced a manifesto that has on the entirety of its first page “Vote SNP for Scotland to be an independent country”.

The Nationalists are not even trying to hide it.

They are running a single-issue campaign.

And treating the general election as a proxy independence referendum.

The SNP are on the backfoot – and they know it.

They have nothing positive to offer in this election.

Nothing to show from SNP MPs who have spent their time pushing independence instead of representing their constituents.

Nothing to show from an SNP Government that has made independence its top priority.

Instead, they are appealing to a nationalist minority and ignoring the majority of people who have had enough and just want our country to move on.

John Swinney is focusing on his desire to separate Scotland from the rest of the UK instead of apologising for the dire record of the SNP Government he has served in for the last 17 years.

Honest John should accept what 17 years of an SNP Government has done to Scotland.

A government that has failed patients with a botched NHS recovery plan and one in seven Scots on a waiting list.

A government that has failed pupils by cutting teacher numbers and dumbing down schooling.

A government that has failed workers and businesses with higher taxes to pick up the tab for their failure.

Instead of campaigning on his plans to tackle those issues all John Swinney can do is desperately bang the drum for independence one more time.

Well, right across Scotland, people are sick and tired of the SNP saying that independence is the only solution to the challenges facing our country.

Of making excuses for failing to use the powers that they have – by saying that they need more powers.

The Scottish people want our country to move on.

To come back together again and go forward towards a better future.

They know that so long as this tired and stale debate continues that it will suck the oxygen out of the issues that really matter.

Independence is the priority of the SNP.

That will never change.

But it does not have to be the priority for our national politics forever.

If the SNP do not just lose this election in Scotland but have a terrible result and are defeated right across the country – then we will have put the nationalists’ political obsession to rest for a generation.

Scotland will have again firmly said no to independence.

No to more division.

No to five more years of separatist campaigning and distraction.

That will be a verdict that John Swinney and his SNP Government cannot ignore.

They have put independence on the ballot paper and are looking for a blank cheque to ignore your priorities for another five years.

They should pay the price for that arrogance.

And the only way to deliver that clear message is by voting Scottish Conservative in key seats on the 4th of July.

In the North East, Perthshire, East Renfrewshire, Argyll and Bute, Ayrshire, the Borders and in many other places it is a straight fight between the Scottish Conservatives and the SNP.

Voting for any other party – or not voting at all – risks letting the SNP win.

And, with a number of tight contests across Scotland, that is a risk we cannot afford.

If we beat the SNP, then we can get the focus onto your priorities.

Onto the issues that the SNP have neglected for the last 17 years.

And this positive manifesto sets out a number of clear plans, working with the UK Government to do just that.

Firstly, we would repair and upgrade Scotland’s roads.

By giving councils the fair deal they need to stop the SNP Government from taking more funding away from local services – so that they have the resources they need to properly fix the potholes that blight local roads.

And we would deliver on the SNP’s broken promises to communities across Scotland.

By making the upgrading of key roads like the A9, A96, A1, A90, A83, A77 and A75 our number one infrastructure priority.

The Scottish Conservatives will always back drivers, not tax them like the SNP and the Greens would do.

Next, we will eradicate the NHS backlog by delivering a modern, efficient, local service.

We will recruit 1,000 additional GPs and guarantee a GP appointment within one week anywhere in the country.

And we will ban local healthcare services being closed and reverse years of SNP centralisation of our NHS.

This would enable us to take the pressure off our hospitals and give them the chance to get to grips with the 840,000 Scots on an NHS waiting list.

Then we will restore Scottish education back to world-class standards by giving our schools more autonomy.

We would back teachers to teach by reducing bureaucracy and would widen subject choice, particularly in rural schools.

We will also make Scotland’s streets safer by cracking down hard on crime.

We will put an extra 1,000 police officers onto our streets and will bring an end to the SNP’s weak justice system which sees rapists avoid jail.

We will introduce whole-life sentences, so that life really does mean life, and put justice on the side of victims not the criminals.

The final of our top-five priorities is reducing family bills across Scotland by cutting their tax.

UK Government action this year alongside the National Insurance tax cuts planned in this manifesto will reduce the tax bill of Scottish workers by up to £2,262 per year.

And today I can announce that we would do our part in Scotland by abolishing the intermediate rate of income tax as an immediate priority.

This would not just close the tax gap between Scotland and the rest of the UK but also reduce the tax bill for workers by up to £171 per year.

We would also raise the threshold for LBTT to £250,000 – saving every buyer in Scotland up to £2,100 on the cost of their home.

Our manifesto also puts the Scottish Conservatives full square behind backing Scotland’s oil and gas industry.

Unlike Labour and the SNP – who would crash the economy of the North East and put 100,000 Scottish jobs at risk by opposing new investment – we are unwavering in our support for new licenses and new investment to secure the industry’s future.

We know that delivering net zero tomorrow is reliant on a strong energy sector today – in which oil and gas has an important role.

And our manifesto ends the Central Belt bias of the SNP by delivering for our whole country.

We would ensure that rural interests are placed at the heart of future policy-making and that our farming and fishing communities are supported, and their produce championed.

This and much more will be what every Scottish Conservative MP elected will be working hard to deliver over the next five years.

Our priorities are your priorities.

And, by voting Scottish Conservative in key seats to beat the SNP, together we can make them Scotland’s future.

Friends, this election has been a tough scrap.

But no one thought that it would be easy.

And if there is anything that we Scottish Conservatives know it is that elections are won by hard campaigning.

Street by street, door by door.

In the 2014 independence referendum when polls started showing Yes ahead, we didn’t give up. We dug deeper, put in the hours and delivered a resounding win.

And in 2021, when Nicola Sturgeon looked all but unstoppable, we got on with the job, redoubled our efforts and ensured that she failed to win a majority.

We are up for this fight.

Just like the Prime Minister.

He is continuing to take the fight to Starmer’s Labour.

He is the only leader with a clear plan to take our country forward and deliver a better, more secure future for Scotland and whole of the United Kingdom.

So can I welcome to the stage, to talk more about his plan – our Prime Minister.

Rishi Sunak.

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