Scotland more bitter and inward-facing today than when I was young – Douglas Ross

Douglas Ross will attack the SNP’s “dead hand of nationalism” over Scotland in a speech to Scottish Conservative members.

The party leader, whose speech is likely to be shortened due to an ongoing throat issue which has left him unable to speak, will criticise Nicola Sturgeon for a “referendum obsession”.

He will also claim Scotland has become a “far more bitter and inward-facing” country and has not improved under the SNP government since 2007.

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The speech will include references to the Scottish Conservatives becoming the “real alternative” as they seek to bridge the 26 point gap between them and the SNP in the polls.

Douglas Ross will speak to the Scottish Conservative party conference on Saturday.Douglas Ross will speak to the Scottish Conservative party conference on Saturday.
Douglas Ross will speak to the Scottish Conservative party conference on Saturday.

However, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar attacked Mr Ross for “shameless hypocrisy” of decrying division he claimed was stoked by the Scottish Conservatives.

The SNP labelled Mr Ross a “lame-duck leader with zero credibility” ahead of his speech.

Mr Ross will tell party members in his keynote speech that Scotland has become “divided against ourselves” and is no longer “confident and outward looking”.

He is expected to say: “Yet the nation my children grow up in today is far more bitter and inward-facing.

“That isn’t a record that any government should be proud of. Scotland is becoming a smaller country every day that the SNP remain in power.”

The Moray MP will also claim Scottish people are worse off “economically and intellectually” due to the SNP not taking “any responsibility”.

He will say: “Our party must bring together the silent majority of working people to end this stalemate.

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“We are building’s Scotland real alternative for people who are fed up with the last 15 years of SNP stagnation.

“A real alternative that will end the referendum obsession and allow us all to move on.”

Attacking the Scottish Conservatives, Anas Sarwar labelled the party the SNP’s “biggest asset”.

He said: “It is shameless hypocrisy for Douglas Ross to condemn the division that he and his party have spent years stoking.

“The Tories aren’t the alternative to the SNP – they are their biggest asset.

“Their government are failing communities across Scotland and the UK, and putting the very future of the country at stake.

“The Tories aren’t good enough to lead the UK and they aren’t strong enough to stand up to the SNP.”

However, SNP MSP, Kenneth Gibson, said that the Scottish Conservatives “bid to defy democracy” is “untenable”.

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He said: “After losing his voice, people will be wishing Douglas Ross would stay silent for a while longer.

“Most people won’t recognise the country they call home in the bitter, small-minded description of Scotland that he paints.

“The reality is that his craven climb-down over his call on Boris Johnson to quit has left him a lame-duck leader with zero credibility, even among his own party.”

Willie Rennie, former leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: "What kind of leader spends the first day of his own conference hiding under the duvet from Boris Johnson? Douglas Ross now claims he backs the Prime Minister but he won't be seen in public with him.

"The Prime Minister has been the perfect boogeyman for Nicola Sturgeon's nationalists and vice versa. Both their parties are stale and tired.”

Want to hear more from The Scotsman's politics team? Check out the latest episode of our political podcast, The Steamie.

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