19 May 2017
Please see below the text of Ruth’s speech from today’s manifesto launch in Edinburgh.
Ruth Davidson said:
“Can I welcome you all today to the launch of our Scottish manifesto.
Let me start by thanking the Prime Minister for coming to Edinburgh today.
A Prime Minister who already shown she has what it takes to do this job.
Who doesn’t shirk the big challenges this country faces.
Someone we can trust, over the next five years, not to bend in the wind, but to stand strong and always put the national interest first.
It is leadership, ladies and gentlemen – you know it when you see it.
And we can ALL see it in Theresa May.
Now – this manifesto today makes one thing very clear.
It’s that the Scottish Conservatives are back.
Back in the centre ground of Scottish politics
Back with ideas and plans to take our country forward
To turn our faltering education system around. To champion the fair work agenda and to invest in the next generation of family homes.
And, at this election, we are offering to do something else too.
And that is to send the SNP a clear and unequivocal message.
No to their unwanted plan for another referendum on independence.
Enough of the endless division and uncertainty they have imposed on our country.
It is time for them to get back to the day job.
And it is time for the country to come back together.
It is time to work with family, friends and neighbours across the UK to boost our security and our prosperity.
We know Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t want to hear that.
So at this election we say this: let’s bring the SNP down to size.
To make her listen.
And to ensure – finally – we get the security and stability we all deserve.
Now, we want this not just because – in the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party – we are unashamedly proud of our Union, our country.
That will always be the case.
But we want it too because, at this vital time in our history, we so desperately need government – in both London and Holyrood – focussed on the issues that really matter.
Not on unwanted division and grievance.
But on taking Scotland – and Britain – through the challenges we face.
And yesterday, the Prime Minister spelled out exactly what those challenges are.
Delivering a strong economy – so that everyone in this country can prosper.
Working to achieve a smooth and orderly departure from the European Union.
Reducing social divisions– so you can get on no matter who you are or where you’re from.
Responding to the challenges of an ageing society.
And harnessing the power of technology for good.
Using the power of government to support families and communities and to make our lives that little bit easier.
Talking up the good that government can do.
Some say that’s not a core Conservative message.
I say – tackling the issues of the day head on, using government to correct injustice, speaking for ALL of society – those ARE core Conservative values, and they always have been.
Yesterday the Prime Minister set out how she intends to put those values into practice.
And in this manifesto today, we set out how they will work for Scotland too.
With Scotland at the heart of our new industrial strategy – giving our oil and gas sector the support it needs.
With Scotland at the heart of our new plan after Brexit – giving our fishermen the security they deserve.
With workers offered greater protections whether they’re in Birmingham, Bangor, Belfast or Banchory.
And with Scotland back at the heart of the Union, not half in, half out – because it is time to ensure that this Union – OUR union – works better.
So today, we set out our plans to make devolution work better too – and to build a stronger Scotland.
With a house-building revolution in Scotland so young people in their twenties and thirties can actually realise the chance of a home of their own.
With more childcare for families from the most disadvantaged backgrounds – because we know that it is in early years that too many children get left behind.
And most of all, with immediate action to tackle the mess the SNP is making of our education system.
Standards in literacy and numeracy falling.
Not enough teachers – not enough inspectors to keep standards up.
Trainees admitting they’re not given the maths skills to teach primary pupils how to count.
And in charge, an SNP administration which can waffle for Scotland about the plans it has, but has been so busy trying to rerun the referendum, it hasn’t got round to action.
I say enough.
It is as clear now more than ever: for all the good intentions that were behind the new Curriculum in Scotland, basic standards are slipping.
So today our manifesto makes clear – we will call for a reset of Curriculum for Excellence, putting the focus back where it belongs – on learning core knowledge and facts.
If we are serious about education being a leveller – that kids from poorer backgrounds can learn and work their way to a better life – then these are the skills they need.
The SNP has failed a generation – and it is time they were held to account.
And in doing all this – in improving schools, in building our economy and protecting our Union – I say it is this party, the Conservative party, which can represent the mainstream in Scotland.
A mainstream who once felt loyalty to Labour.
But who now see that party at a complete loss.
So, today, I want to speak directly to Labour party voters across Scotland.
You have stuck with your party through the referendum when thousands of others left.
You have been through leadership election after leadership election, and Jeremy Corbyn was not your choice.
You’ve watched as your Scottish Leader, Kezia Dugdale, has left voters in Aberdeen betrayed and council colleagues suspended because she’d rather prop up the SNP than work together with the Conservatives.
In Lanarkshire, long term servants of Labour have decided they have no choice but to simply walk away.
This week the Scottish Labour party – already weakened – has entered a state of civil war.
The truth is, your party has left you, not the other way around.
It may well find its way back. But you know – and I know – it won’t be at this election.
So let me do a job for you.
In great swathes of the country, it is only the Scottish Conservatives who are strong enough to take on the SNP. And in many places we can only win, if you join with us.
The Scottish Conservatives are rooted to the centre ground and – in the last year – have proven we can take on the SNP. We did it last May at the Holyrood elections and again a fortnight ago in the local government elections too.
We are committed to workers’ rights, boosting low pay, getting a good deal for our fishermen and improving the education of our young people so cruelly let down by this Scottish Government.
So, together, with your help, we can lead the fightback against the SNP and stop Nicola Sturgeon trying to pull our country apart.
We will hold her to her promise that the last referendum was “once in a generation”.
And – as Theresa May and I made clear a few months ago – we won’t roll over when they demand a rerun.
We will stand up for the quiet majority in Scotland who, like us, have had enough of the SNP’s games and are simply looking for somebody to take them on.
Let me give Nicola Sturgeon this friendly advice.
The Prime Minister says SHE’S a bloody difficult woman.
Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
I will fight and fight and fight again to protect the decision we made as a country.
To stay together. To stick together. And to face the world as one United Kingdom.”