RUTH Davidson yesterday said that the Conservatives should “take on” establishment power, claiming her party should champion the “underdog and the outsider”.
The Scottish Conservative leader attempted to redefine her party’s image by promising to take on tax-dodging businesses, trade unions that block reform and a Scottish Government that is attempting to centralise power in Edinburgh.
Speaking at the Welsh Conservative Party conference in Cardiff, she said it was time for Tories to shake off their reputation as the political party of the UK establishment.
“In many parts of the country, we face an uphill battle proving to people that we, the Conservative party, are on their side. We can’t hide from these facts. We can’t dismiss them as not being there. We have to tackle them head-on,” Davidson said.
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“We do it by working twice as hard, and above all by explaining why our values are Scotland’s values; by explaining the reasons behind our beliefs and we do it by challenging people. I know our critics like to try and paint a caricature of us as the party of the establishment – as the party that is only there for the people who’ve made it in life. We’re not.
“Too often, we’ve just sat back, apologised for ourselves, and failed to hit back against that kind of nonsense. Well, I say no more. I want to take on the establishment in all its guises – whether that’s corporations which dodge their fair share of tax, whether that’s unions which seek to use their power to block necessary change, or, in Scotland, whether it’s a centralising SNP government which takes power away from the communities of Scotland in order to gather more power for itself. They’re the ones in Scotland who are trying to run the country by central diktat and with untrammelled power. They’re the establishment in Scotland, not us. The Conservative party I know isn’t the party of the establishment. The Conservative party is the party of the underdog, the outsider, the grafter who wants to take a risk.”
A SNP spokesman said: “Ruth Davidson must take people for fools – the Tories are the establishment, governing Scotland from Westminster with just a single MP here. Her Tory pals in government at Westminster sit in a cabinet of millionaires, and have unleashed austerity cuts that have hit local communities, women and disabled people the hardest.”
A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “We’ve had the Oscars and the Brits in the past week – if Ruth Davidson is saying the Tories are an anti-establishment party she must be up for a British Comedy Award.”