RUTH Davidson has accused the SNP Scottish Government of “cronyism and incompetence” as she vowed the Scottish Conservatives will return a record number of MSPs to Holyrood next year.
In her first speech at this year’s Tory conference in Manchester at a fringe meeting, Ms Davidson also announced a new policy of giving people who stay at home to care for loved ones a £600 bonus a year by providing them with as much support as those on Jobseekers allowance.
It’s time we actually took on some of the myths about this SNP administration.Ruth Davidson
The £32 million policy is part of a push by the Scottish Conservatives to highlight what can be done with the new £2.5 billion of welfare spending powers being devolved to Holyrood.
And a bullish Ms Davidson challenged SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to explain what she would do.
A source close to Ms Davidson suggested the cash for the policy could be found in the £350 million underspend and pointed out that the SNP backed the idea in its independence White Paper.
The Scottish Conservative leader also revealed that she had turned down the opportunity to join the board of the campaign group set up to keep the UK in the European Union so she could focus on the Holyrood election.
She refused to predict a number of how many MSPs the party could return but promised “a record number” above the 18 seats won in 1999 and 2003.
She also repeated her claim that the Tories are now “the only pro-UK party” in Scotland adding that Labour had “lost its way” with MP and MDSPs being allowed to campaign for independence and the Lib Dems were “fading away.”
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But she said her main focus would be to “hold the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon to account” claiming that “their record in government does not bear scrutiny.”
And in a blistering attack on the scandals besetting the SNP in recent weeks she said that the spin around them was unraveling referring to the scandals over allegations about state aid for tee in the park and Edinburgh West MP Michelle Thomson’s business deals.
She said: “It’s time we actually took on some of the myths about this SNP administration.
“For years, its publicly funded spin doctors have artfully persuaded us that it brings a blend of compassion and competence to Government. The truth is this is an administration increasingly defined by cronyism and incompetence.”
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She said it was definied by “cosy meetings secured by former advisers now in the pay of private companies to secure state aid for already profitable ventures, SNP supporters who give to the cause, seeing the amount of their donation returned ten-fold in government loans and decisions of huge scientific importance – taken without anything as troubling as scientific advice.”
She also mocked their attempts to bring forward progressive policies highlighting Finance Secretary John Swinney’s replacement for stamp duty.
She said: “He wanted to strike a pose; to show that Scotland could go its own way, to grab the mantle of ‘progressive’ by hammering anyone wanting a family home in Edinburgh or Aberdeen. To do something – anything - to demonstrate difference to the Westminster approach.
“The result? In six months he’s blown a £50 million hole in government finances by putting a break on transactions.”
And in a barbed jibe, she added: “If it wasn’t for Michelle Thomson, buying all on sundry, the whole market could have ground to a halt.”