Scottish Conservative Conference 2015 - live blog

Written by Holyrood team on 20 February 2015 in Inside Politics

Follow our updates from the Scottish Conservatives spring conference from Edinburgh, written by Kate Shannon (KS) and Liam Kirkaldy (LK)


17:19: Ok that's about it from Kate Shannon and I. If you feel withdrawal symptoms from our coverage, you can always read the Prime Minister's speech in full here. Have a good weekend! (LK)

17:17: Much of Davidson's message in her speech - including some direct quotes - come straight from the Tory election broadcast. Here it is (LK):


Some Twitter commentary (LK):




17.05: Here're a few of the key quotes from Davidson's speech. (KS)

"For too long, Scotland has only seen this party standing against things. In the referendum, Scotland saw us standing for something. And something important.

"Standing for the values we hold dear. Standing for our belief in this country's future. We stood up for the common bonds we share right across this United Kingdom. We stood up for an ideal, one we don’t always reach in reality, but one that - at its best – has been a beacon of freedom and liberty for the rest of the world to live up to and adopt. And we stood up for Scotland too. We didn’t have to be dragged or nagged into thinking about how we could make Holyrood work better.

"Any parliament that doesn’t look taxpayers in the eye, that can claim credit for every success and blame Westminster for any deficiency is clearly lop-sided. And I’m glad we’re righting that wrong through the new powers that are coming. Powers architected by Strathclyde, adopted by Smith and with ‘Made by Conservatives’ stamped across them in bold.

"And I’d like to thank our commissioners, Adam Tomkins and Annabel Goldie – who continues to be such a servant to this party - for all their hard work. Because of their work, people saw in the referendum that we are a party with a plan for Scotland, a belief in Britain and a vision for us all. And you know what? We discovered something we should always have known: that when we stand up for our values, when we unashamedly make the case for what defines us as Conservatives, Scots don’t slam the door. Far from it. Scotland listens. It hears what we have to say."

16.33: Davidson says the work programme in Scotland was designed to get people into jobs, 'the SNP said it'll fail but tell that to the young people who are now in work'. (KS)

16.33: Davidson says the work programme in Scotland was designed to get people into jobs, 'the SNP said it'll fail but tell that to the young people who are now in work'. (KS)



16.30: Davidson says it's about persuading people that the Conservatives want the best for everyone. (KS)





16.05: Leader Ruth Davidson will be speaking shortly, hopefully the wifi will hold (it probably won't).. (KS)

16.02: Mary Scanlon MSP is speaking in her capacity as education spokesperson. She says you can't help but be concerned about the 25 per cent cuts to further education in Scotland. She references COSLA's dispute with the Scottish Government on teacher numbers and says it isn't helping any child in Scotland. (KS)



15.50: Margaret Mitchell MSP, the Conservative's justice spokesperson is addressing conference. She says access to justice is a fundamental human right and it is 'unacceptable that under the SNP Government this is being denied'. (KS)

15:46: The pink bus has, perhaps inevitably, been brought up:



15:43: This seems a strange choice of music to me (LK)




15:35: Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb MP is now speaking on concept of national identity, using Six Nations as example of how identity is celebrated. Says he is planning path for future of Welsh devolution, to be published in time for St David's Day (LK).

15:25: Things are hotting up here in the hall (LK):



15:19: Expect to hear this message on repeat for next couple months (LK):

15:15: There appears to be some confusion over job figures (LK):




15:03 (LK): Cameron on the prospect of a Labour-SNP coalition: "A vote for the SNP is a vote for Labour in Government. Nicola Sturgeon has made clear she is up for a coalition with Ed MilibandAs Ruth has put it, the SNP and Labour are halfway up the aisle together already.

"She’s right. They’ve picked out the wedding list.They’ve booked the honeymoon – probably to North Korea. They’ve set up a joint account – unlimited overdraft obviously. And so if you vote for anyone else apart from the Conservatives, you are voting for this outcome: Labour in Government. Ed Miliband in Downing Street and the very real prospect of Alex Salmond coming in through the back door.

"Like a horror movie – he’s back. Only this time - he's not running Scotland, he would have the decisive say in running a country he wants to see abolished – our United Kingdom.

"Isn’t it appalling that Labour won’t rule out this outcome, that they would wrap themselves in the flag one minute and the next be prepared to work with a bunch of people who would rip up that flag given half a chance? Spineless. Weak. Unprincipled. Short-termistthat, my friends, is all anyone needs to know about today’s Labour party."

14:58: A few key lines from David Cameron's speech (LK). Here he is speaking about Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson: "The woman who kept battling for our United Kingdom, slugging it to Salmond, it was our very own fighter from Fife. Helping to save the United Kingdom – it’s not a bad thing to have on your CV at the age of 36.

"During the course of that campaign Ruth really went the extra mile, even appearing on a double bill with George Galloway - that’s what you call taking one for the team."


14.51: Apologies for the lack of updates during PM David Cameron's speech, the conference centre's wifi couldn't cope and we were locked out! A run down of what he said will follow. (KS)

13.41: One of our favourite statements of the day so far. (KS)



13.31: Like a pair of keen beans, Liam and I are in position for this afternoon's proceedings already. (KS)

12.51: So what can we expect from conference this afternoon? Scheduled are Jackson Carlaw MSP hosting a candidate Q&A, Stephen Crabb MP, an open session on justice and education chaired by Margaret Mitchell MSP and Mary Scanlon MSP and leader Ruth Davidson's keynote speech. However, we're also expecting PM David Cameron to take to the stage at some point during the afternoon and going by the number of dark suited men sporting ear pieces, I'd say it will be fairly soon after lunch. If I was a betting woman, I'd say around 2 pm. (KS)






12:25: The mood here is pretty upbeat - in some ways it must be a relief for Scottish Tories to get together with other like-minded people, they may not get the chance very often. The feeling seems to be that the party, and Ruth Davidson in particular, had a good referendum and that it must try and take that energy into the General Election. Much of the debate is focussed on the economy, though Murdo Fraser opened things up a bit by offering arguments on how Tory rural policy - specifically in its opposition to land reform - sets it apart from other parties.(LK)

12:23: There is now a break in the speeches, which will resume around 2pm. (LK)



11.50: Read Liam's recent news story on this subject - Land reform must be balanced, say Scottish Tories (KS)

11.47: Murdo Fraser MSP is speaking on the SNP's land reform agenda, which he says 'is driven by ideology, not evidence, and typifies a central belt government which doesn't understand rural Scotland'. (KS)





11.29: Here's what Ruth Davidson told me in an interview last week: "The last Labour Government left us with a huge peacetime deficit, rising unemployment and basically, a note which said, ‘sorry, there’s no money left’ as they laughed and left office. Actually, we’ve had to take some really tough decisions. We now have the fastest growing major economy in the western world, we’ve had more than 1.75 million jobs created in the past five years, we’ve kept interest rates low, we’ve kept mortgages low and we’re now beginning to see wages and earnings outstripping prices so people are beginning to feel like they’ve come through the worst of it."

Read the full interview here. (KS)

11.16: It is worth saying that due to technical issues, you have to click refresh in order to see the latest post on this blog. Apologies for the inconvenience! (KS)

11.15: Some tweets from Ian Duncan' speech:







11.12: David Mundell MP and MSP and Westminster candidate John Lamont are chairing an open session on 'securing Scotland's future'. Justice issues seem to be coming up a lot, with speakers talking about the closure of local police stations and courts. (KS)



10.38: See the last entry. (KS)



10.26: To update you of what's been going on so far - party chairman Richard Keen QC, David Mundell MP and Gavin Brown MSP have all addressed delegates. The themes of their speeches have been different but the messages were the same: vote Tory in May or you'll get a Labour/SNP coalition which will be a disaster for the country and the economy. From a more light hearted point of view, I spotted the first delegate asleep (at 10.20).. (KS)





10.00: Going back to David Mundell's speech, here're a few more choice quotes -

He said: “Let’s face it, Labour and the two Eds are a real and present danger who threaten all this country has achieved. They would plunge us back into the dark days – our worst nightmare. Or so we thought, but just when you thought it was safe to return to the polling booth, enter stage left Alex Salmond, the self-styled puppet master. He’ll be pulling the strings of both Nicola Sturgeon and Ed Miliband.

“And I say stage left because the dangerous economics of socialism are shared by Miliband and Salmond.” (KS)



9.51: MSP Gavin Brown is leading the debate on the economy, he started off talking about the deficit - he says the Conservatives are the ones who turned things around for the UK. "We've got a record high employment. Businesses have created five jobs in the private sector for every one lost in the public sector," says Brown. (KS)

9.46: Mundell says: "We are offering a message of competence against chaos", he told Liam Kirkaldy the same thing last week, read Liam's Conservative overview here. (KS)

9.42: Mundell says the Tories have taken the country back from the brink of bankruptcy and asks if the country really wants to return to those 'dark' days by electing a Labour government. He says Sturgeon and Salmond are desperate to 'prop up' Ed Miliband and he is willing to take power 'at any cost'. (KS)



9.39: Scotland's only MP David Mundell is addressing conference (KS)



09:35: Keen says the Nationalists responded to the No vote with "arrogance and deceit"

9:25: LK - Richard Keen QC has taken to the stage to open things up, with a long list of people whom he wishes to thank.

09:21: Oops






09:10: This is what Boris Johnson and George Osborne are up to this morning. Bet they'd rather be in Edinburgh supping with us!



08:20: Conference starts at nine, and the role of warm-up act falls to the party's one MP David Mundell, who represents Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweedale. Davidson will deliver her keynote in the afternoon, after a 'meet the candidates' session and a clarification of the party's position on land reform by Murdo Fraser MSP. 'Federal' Fraser has described himself as 'increasingly wet' several times on twitter over the last few days, so his contribution might be interesting, as well as the reaction of the right of the party. That is, if he wasn't referring to forgetting his brolly.




08:01: The Scots Tories will see today as a platform to build on their solitary MP come May. Leader Ruth Davidson told Holyrood the party was in "good heart" in her interview with Kate Shannon. You can read it here.



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