Ruth Davidson: More needs to be done to save Union

Ruth Davidson speaks in Edinburgh after the general election. Picture: Jane Barlow

Ruth Davidson speaks in Edinburgh after the general election. Picture: Jane Barlow

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SCOTTISH Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is today expected to deliver a stark warning to David Cameron and Tory ministers that “more needs to be done” to keep the United Kingdom intact.

Following the SNP’s election victory in Scotland in May, giving them 56 out of 59 Westminster seats, Ms Davidson will use a lecture at the Scotland Office’s Dover House home in Whitehall to suggest that pro-UK politicians are in danger of “falling into the trap of thinking everything is OK” because of the independence referendum result.

“All of us who care for the Union need to do a lot more”

Tory source

She warned yesterday that “the [independence] question isn’t settled yet” and that pro-UK parties need to understand how a mass movement developed behind the SNP after their referendum 
defeat.

Ms Davidson is expected to warn in her speech tonight that “separation” can still happen “through a lack of thought and attention”.

She will also call for a stronger Scottish Parliament, a move that could be seen as a push for more powers beyond those recommended by the Smith Commission on further devolution for Holyrood.

The commission has recommended devolving income tax on earnings and £2.5 billion of welfare and other measures, such as air passenger duty, making Holyrood one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world.

Ahead of the lecture – entitled “Scotland’s Future in the UK: Building a Better Union for All” – a source close to Ms Davidson said that she believed the case for the Union needs to be made more 
vigorously than ever. The source said: “Of course the SNP has grabbed the headlines over the last month, but Ruth is giving a lecture in London just to make the point to the rest of the UK that there are two million Scots who didn’t back the SNP’s plan for separation last year and their voice needs to be heard.”

Conservative Scottish Secretary David Mundell recently claimed the Tories could become Scotland’s second party and that confidence appears to be echoed by Ms Davidson, who will claim her party can “speak for Scotland’s quiet majority”.

The source said: “Labour is going to spend the summer talking to itself. We want to spend the next few months speaking up for the quiet majority in Scotland who want to see a better Union which works for them and their families.”

But on the dangers faced by the Union, he made clear that Ms Davidson will attack any complacency over the fight against independence being “won”, despite assurances made in the referendum campaign by Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon that the vote was “a once-in-a-generation” event.

Since then, Ms Sturgeon has said that a “substantial” change in circumstances could trigger a second referendum much sooner.

The source close to Ms Davidson said: “Ruth will be making it clear that all of us who care for the Union need to do a lot more to make sure we secure its future. We can’t fall into the trap of thinking it will all turn out OK on its own. It won’t.

“[She will say] we need to do more. That means a stronger Scottish Parliament. It also means a stronger Union which doesn’t allow separation to happen because of a lack of thought and attention. Ruth will make the case for both.”

In an interview yesterday, Ms Davidson said: “The question isn’t settled yet. I think the very worst thing that we could have for Scotland right now is another referendum close by.

“We’ll see if Nicola Sturgeon will stick to her promise of it being once in a generation but I do feel that we need to analyse why there has been a movement behind the SNP off the back of a referendum which, let’s not forget, they lost and they lost by a significant margin.”

She also defended her party’s record in the election which translated into the worst share of the vote achieved in Scotland by the Tories.

She said: “We know that between a fifth and a quarter of our natural supporters voted tactically in what was one of the strangest, I think most overwhelming elections we’ve ever seen north of the Border. It was an absolute tsunami.

“I think when the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats between them lost over 30 per cent of the popular vote and we held just about steady in the face of that tsunami, we came out relatively creditably.”

But the SNP were dismissive of Ms Davidson, warning that her party is set to “miss the moment again”.

Derek Mackay, who was yesterday reappointed as the party’s business convener, said: “Unfortunately for Ruth Davidson, the Tories look to be missing the moment yet again, by so far not being prepared to deliver the powers – such as business tax, welfare and the minimum wage – that 56 of Scotland’s 59 constituencies voted for by electing SNP MPs. The Tories managed to win only one seat in Scotland, and had their worst ever general election vote share north of the Border since 1865.”

Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said: “This is a clear slapdown to David Cameron after his cack-handed approach in the aftermath of the Scottish referendum.”

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