Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross launches series of ‘listening’ events to find out Scots' priorities
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has announced plans for a series of events to engage with organisations across Scotland, as part of a drive to find out what people in Scotland think is important.
Ross’s ‘Roundtable Scotland’ discussions will look at rebuilding Scotland after coronavirus and moving on from the “divisions of the past”.
The new Scottish Conservative leader said he wanted to start off his leadership by listening and that even when there as differences of opinion, he hoped by finding ways to disagree better, the country could move forward.
One of the events will focus on recovery and drug treatment and will be led by drug campaign group, Favor (Faces and Voices of Recovery).
Another event will involve Scottish teaching unions including the EIS, NASUWT and Scottish Secondary Teachers Association.
Ross will also be speaking with business groups about the economic challenges facing Scotland, ahead of publication of his plan for jobs next week.
Ross said: “When I was elected leader, I said I wanted to help unite Scotland so we can move forward together.
“That process can only begin by talking to each other, not shouting at each other.
“So, as I begin my leadership, I want to start by getting out into the country and by listening to people up and down Scotland to find out what's important to them and what priorities they put first.
“I don't want just to preach to the converted, I want to talk to people who don't support my party too.
“Even if we won't agree on everything, we can surely all find a way to disagree better – and help our country move forward as a result.
“I believe this moment is a great opportunity for Scotland.
“People don't want to go back to the old divisions.
“Instead, it's time to find out what we have in common and so rebuild better after coronavirus.
“I want to seize that opportunity and I'd love to hear from anybody who wants to be part of it.”
Annemarie Ward, CEO of Favor Scotland, said: “I’ve openly said in the past that I’m a member of the SNP and I have serious issues with numerous aspects of Scottish Conservative policy.
“On recovery and drug treatment, we have clear disagreements but there are also areas where we can work together.
“I’ve said that the record-high drug death rates are Scotland’s shame.
“Ending that appalling record will take political will from every party.
“If Douglas wants to sit down and listen to us, we're happy to work with him, just as we would be happy to work with Nicola Sturgeon if it means we help people get better and save lives.”