Ruth Davidson says it’s time to move on from indy debate

Scottish Conservative party leader Ruth Davidson delivers a speech to independent think tank IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research). Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Scottish Conservative party leader Ruth Davidson delivers a speech to independent think tank IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research). Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
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Ruth Davidson has said it is time for the Conservatives to concentrate on the “bread and butter” issues facing Scotland as she attempts to position the Tories as a credible party of government.

In a speech in Edinburgh, Ms Davidson said the Tories were more than just the “No to independence party”, arguing it was time to move on from constitutional argumentsand focus on the “intellectual heavy-lifting” required to develop policy.

The Scottish Conservative leader said the absence of elections or referendums over the next few years meant it was time to tackle domestic issues as she works to persuade voters that she is First Minister material.

Addressing the Institute for Public Policy Research, Ms Davidson said: “We have an opportunity in the years to 2021 to do some of the intellectual heavy lifting that has been so alien to policy formation at Holyrood. We now have an opportunity to write in paragraphs and not in tweets.”

Speaking after her speech, she also said that Scottish Labour’s leadership travails gave her party a “huge opportunity” to make its voice heard.

Earlier Ms Davidson had criticised the lack of action from the Scottish Government while debates over Scottish independence and Brexit were raging.

She said just one bill “of note” had been passed in the Scottish Parliament in the past year and 46 hours had been spent discussing the constitution.

“Criticism that the political class in Scotland has focussed too heavily on the constitution is justified,” she said.

“There is also a yearning among many to see a political debate in Scotland focus more heavily on the bread and butter issues that matter to us here at home. So while we in the Scottish Conservatives have rightly complained that the SNP has failed to focus on the day job, we need to demonstrate our wish to set our sights on that task too and that is my broad priority as we begin a new parliament next week.

“The Scottish Conservatives fought the last Holyrood election on the basis we would be a strong opposition to the SNP. That remains the task in hand at the Scottish Parliament – but it is not a message that should – or should be desired – to be reused.”

She added: “Next time round, we have to demonstrate we are a party of government.”

Last night SNP MSP George Adam said: “Ruth Davidson is the ultimate one-trick pony who is now finally admitting that the Tories have been utterly obsessed with independence, and have nothing else to say.”