Scottish Conservative leader
WHILE Labour have floundered since last May and are now in chaos, the Scottish Conservatives have played their hand extremely effectively. We have put our policies into action. We worked with the SNP minority government, agreeing to support its Budget in exchange for key concessions.
The Scottish Conservatives gave Scotland 1,000 additional police officers, accelerated the cuts in business rates for 150,000 small businesses, launched a new chapter in the battle against drugs abuse and kept bus fares down in rural Scotland. Sixteen Conservative MSPs extracted a 114 million improvement to the Scottish Budget. We got what we wanted, and we made the crucial difference.
Because of the hard bargain we drove, not only did we get specific Conservative policies into the Budget that would not have been there otherwise, but our votes were instrumental in allowing that Budget to be passed. Obviously, the council tax freeze wasn't perfect, but it is much better than it would have been had we not been involved.
Also, our support helped to ensure the end of tolls on the Forth and Tay bridges. Our amendments mean tolls cannot be resurrected under the guise of a road-charging scheme, as proposed by the previous Lib/Lab Executive. The Budget wasn't perfect, and there were elements of it we did not agree with, but it's a start. What's more, our support has secured other benefits for Scotland and we continue to reject the separatist agenda of the SNP. We've made the difference and will continue making the difference, day by day, issue by issue and vote by vote, using our influence to deliver for Scotland.
SNP MSP for Central Scotland
POLITICS in the UK is a tale of two countries. As the latest opinion polls show, the Cameron bounce has stopped at the Border. The Scottish Conservatives continue to languish at the bottom of the opinion polls, winning less than half the support in Scotland they currently claim in England.
In contrast, support for the SNP is growing and the Scottish Government is continuing to win the trust of people across Scotland. Why? Because we have repaid that trust by delivering on our manifesto commitments.
Finance secretary John Swinney delivered for families across Scotland when he negotiated a council tax freeze, keeping bills down across Scotland. The health secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, made one of her first acts in government, saving the accident and emergency units at Ayr and Monklands hospitals, keeping health care local.
In trying to claim credit for key SNP manifesto commitments delivered by an SNP government, it seems the Tories plan on reversing their fortunes by stealing the SNP's clothes. For an avowedly unionist party, that will take some doing. That the Tories are so enthusiastic about these policies they want to claim them for themselves shows just how popular the SNP Government is.
From the poll tax to privatisation the Tories left a legacy in Scotland that we are only just recovering from.
The recent Troup by-election showed a 20 per cent movement from the Tories to the SNP – even when David Cameron was recording local government victories in England. The Tories may be winning south of the Border, but they are the also-rans in Scotland.