David Cameron will not visit Scotland to campaign for the Conservatives in the Holyrood election, the leader of the Scottish arm of the party said yesterday.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the Prime Minister was “slightly busy” with other matters when she disclosed that he would be absent from the campaign.
It is thought to be the first time in recent history that the leader of the UK Conservatives has not come north of the Border for a major Scottish election. The Conservatives’ opponents claimed the party was deliberately distancing Mr Cameron from the election because he was a vote loser in Scotland.
When asked whether the Prime Minister would be making an appearance in Scotland before polling day on 5 May, Ms Davidson said: “The Prime Minister is slightly busy at the moment. He’s got the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations and he’s also got a state visit from the US President.
“It’s my name on the ballot paper so I will be handling the Scottish election. As you can imagine, the SNP and our opponents generally like to do what opponents do and slag us off, but there is no correlation that I can see between any visits and any polling numbers.
“What we are seeing in the polls is us overtaking the Labour Party for second place. That’s important not in and of itself, but because of the job we can do for the people of Scotland, and that is to be the strong opposition that our country needs to hold the SNP to account, to say no to a second independence referendum, and to really make them focus on the things that really matter to people like schools, hospitals and our public services.”
Ms Davidson was speaking as she visited Puddledub Buffalo Farm in Fife to promote her policy of keeping taxes low to boost businesses.
It comes after the Scottish Chambers of Commerce appealed to political parties to ensure Scottish tax rates remain at or below those elsewhere in the UK, insisting higher taxes could drive away talent and put off investors.
SNP business convener Derek Mackay said: “The Tories in Scotland should also be aware that they simply can’t run away from the disastrous record of their colleagues in the UK Government.
“Ruth Davidson can try and hide David Cameron and George Osborne from the campaign all she likes – but people in Scotland won’t forget that it is her party which has enthusiastically taken forward policies like the bedroom tax and cuts to disabled support, and they will be judged accordingly.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “All this means is that David Cameron will phone Ruth Davidson with his instructions instead of giving them to her in person. Ruth Davidson backed David Cameron and George Osborne over a Budget that would have taken thousands of pounds from disabled people. She has matched them on tax cuts for the richest and cuts to services for everyone else.
“Everyone knows that Ruth Davidson is a fully paid-up member of the David Cameron fan club every day of the week. This artificial distance won’t fool anyone.”
Meanwhile Nicola Sturgeon has launched the SNP’s manifesto for young people, promising a jobs grant for the long-term unemployed.
Under the scheme – first unveiled in March – all 16 to 24-year-olds who are unemployed for six months or more will be given a grant to help with getting into work.