Ruth Davidson criticised for ‘vague’ speech telling Scots to be more like Germans
NEW Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has urged Scotland to follow Germany by re-discovering the values of hard work and low debts, as she used her first major speech at the helm of the party to set out her vision for Scotland.
In a speech in Glasgow today focusing entirely on the economy, Ms Davidson claimed that “decades of socialism” had “dampened” Scotland’s capacity for enterprise and hard work, and hit out at European nations that had been living “beyond their means” and “cossetting” public sector workers.
Arguing that the “something for nothing culture” had now ended, she said Scotland had to return to “the principles which made us great”.
She praised the example of Germany, claiming their aversion to borrowing and debts had “led to decades of prosperity.” She added: “In Germany, saving is a virtue and debt is shameful”.
Noting that Scotland had “elevated being careful with money to a national stereotype”, she argued that the country now needed to return to such values.
“If we want to prosper, we are going to have to work for it, as our forefathers did,” she said.
But the speech stopped short of offering new policy proposals, with Ms Davidson insisting her beleaguered party first needs to explain its values to Scots, at a time when support is draining away north of the Border, before offering any specific plans.
That prompted opposition parties to accuse her of making “vague” value statements. They said the party should have taken the advice of leadership hopeful Murdo Fraser who used last year’s contest to call for the entire party to be wound up and replaced.
Ms Davidson also studiously avoided any mention of the debate on independence, in what aides said was a deliberate move to keep attention focussed on her own platform.
She also confirmed plans to lead a major policy review within the party, insisting that “nothing will be off the table for discussion”. This includes the issue of Holyrood’s current powers.
The 33-year-old won the leadership contest in November, succeeding Annabel Goldie, after just six months as an MSP. The move followed the party’s disappointing Holyrood election result in May when it lost two seats, taking its representation to just 15 out of 129.
Ms Davidson said the party had struggled to get its message across to voters for too long and that it needed to explain to people what its purpose was.
She said: “Our purpose is to decisively shift the balance of power from the hands of politicians into the hands of people and local communities.
“We believe in people, not in the state, and we believe that the bigger the size of the state, the smaller the role left for the individual citizen.”
Describing her speech as the first of several “values statements”, she said Scotland had been part of a “collective delusion” where people bought into a fantasy based on debt.
SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said: “Perhaps it’s time the Tories stopped making laughable claims and issuing vague statements on values and instead took the advice of the erstwhile leadership contender Murdo Fraser and disbanded the party altogether.”
A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “Ruth Davidson claims to represent a fresh face for Scottish Conservatism but the reality is this is the same old Tories. The people of Scotland stopped listening to their tired rhetoric … a long time ago.”
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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