23 Mar 2016
The Scottish Conservative election campaign ahead of May’s vote began with a speech by leader Ruth Davidson today.
She addressed activists and members in Edinburgh just after the Scottish Parliament closed its doors for the last time before the Holyrood election.
Please see below the full text of her speech. Check against delivery.
Good afternoon everybody, and it’s great to be back on the campaign trail today.
It frankly doesn’t feel like that long since we were here last year.
But we stand at the starting line today with our tank full and with our spirits up.
I have a great team behind me.
And we have a clear message to people across Scotland.
It’s that we are ready, more than ready, to take on this over-mighty SNP government and provide the strong official opposition that Scotland needs.
And it needs that strong opposition more than ever – for two big reasons.
One – we need an opposition to stand up for Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom.
Only two weeks ago, Nicola Sturgeon stood up at her party conference to declare that, if she is re-elected, the SNP will begin a new campaign for independence this summer.
That’s despite her telling us all in 2014 that the referendum we went through was “once in a generation”.
That pledge is now dead in the water.
We always knew it, and we know it now: the SNP will never let this go. They will take Scotland back to more division and to more uncertainty.
And we know the cost.
Had there been a Yes vote in 2014, tomorrow is the day when the SNP planned to separate Scotland from the United Kingdom.
Lumbered with a £15 billion black hole.
That wouldn’t have hurt the rich – they’d have left. It would have hurt the poor who rely on public services.
So I will oppose any attempt by the SNP to damage Scotland with their independence drive.
I won’t follow Labour and the LibDems who – incredibly – now say their birth-control candidates can do as they wish.
I will stand up for every Scot who thought, two years ago, that this was finished. Let’s get the SNP to focus on what matters, not another independence referendum.
And two – Scotland needs a strong opposition to back jobs for this country.
We now know that the SNP want to turn Scotland into the highest taxed part of the United Kingdom.
And the only response from Labour and the LibDems is to demand they tax them even more.
It’s like jumping off a cliff and attacking everyone else for not doing the same.
We have a high tax party of government being told by two high tax parties in opposition telling it to tax Scots even more.
Here’s the difference we can make.
We will make the case for fair and competitive taxation.
Because we know that’s good for Scottish jobs.
Putting up a sign here saying “higher taxes here” will only drive away jobs and investment from Scotland.
I don’t see why people living here should have to pay extra taxes than others living elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
So I will fight during this campaign to protect peoples’ pay packets and to show the SNP they can go another way.
And I can tell you: if we get a stronger group of Scottish Conservative MSPs we will demand this unnecessary tax grab is blocked.
If the SNP is returned to power, we will set out a clear alternative budget for next year to show how this can be avoided in time for the start the 2017 tax year.
That’s the difference a strong, pro-UK, pro-jobs, opposition can make.
We have six weeks to make that case before May 5th.
I will leave the predictions to the pundits.
But I have never been more confident in my team, in our plans, and in the positive plan we have for Scotland.