Douglas Ross: Tories didn’t ‘live up to expectations’ in ‘difficult’ 2022
Douglas Ross has admitted his party hasn’t “lived up to expectations” and must work to rebuild trust across the UK.
The Scottish Conservatives leader said 2022 had been a difficult year for the Tories, but he said the party had steadied itself under the “quiet competency” of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Ross will make a keynote speech in Edinburgh today where he is expected to attack Scottish Labour, accusing the party of “playing for Team Sturgeon” on issues such as reform of the Gender Recognition Act.
Before Christmas, the Scottish Parliament passed the controversial Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill by 89 votes to 36 after Labour, the Lib Dems, and Scottish Greens supported the SNP.
Ross is expected to say that on a range of issues, such as the GRR bill, hate crime legislation, the future of oil and gas in the North Sea, and the future of Scottish education, Labour are “indistinguishable from the SNP”.
“Right across our nation, there are so many people crying out for the end of Nicola Sturgeon and this SNP government,” Ross is expected to say.
“They see failure stacked upon failure and question how any government can survive it.
“Yet Labour are an opposition to the SNP in name only – they only offer more of the same.
“Anas Sarwar has claimed that he has brought his party back onto the pitch, yet Labour are now playing for Team Sturgeon.
“Nicola Sturgeon faced more opposition in the passing of her Gender Recognition Reform Bill from SNP backbenchers than she did from Anas Sarwar and his party.”
The Scottish Tory leader is expected to say that Unionists who voted tactically for Sarwar’s party to help stop the SNP have been “betrayed”.
But he will also admit that last year was difficult for his own party.
“Last year was difficult for the Conservative Party across the UK. To be frank, we haven’t lived up to expectations.
“Our focus, as a UK and Scottish party, must be on working to re-earn trust. But Rishi Sunak’s first couple of months in office have shown a return to the quiet competency that voters expect from us.
“Decisive action has been taken to support every family with rising energy costs, and our public services have been given the resources they need to offset global inflation.
“This UK Conservative government is taking the necessary action to get our whole country through these difficult times. Yes, these are early days and there is a lot more work to be done, but I believe we have turned a corner.”
Labour’s Shadow Scotland Secretary Ian Murray MP said: “It is going to take more than a few New Year’s resolutions and a badly delivered speech to make flip-flop Douglas Ross politically relevant.
“His first resolution should be to apologise for backing Liz Truss, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak while the whole country looked on in horror.
“As we face another year of economic chaos, Scotland knows that the Conservative Party remains the biggest threat to the Union.
“The catastrophic record of the Tory government are the SNP’s get out jail card and their number one recruiting sergeant in the campaign to divide the UK.”