Scottish Conservatives call for unionist backing to ‘rebuild’ Scotland at manifesto launch
The Scottish Conservatives have urged pro-Union voters to back the party in the list vote at the election in May.
Launching the party’s manifesto, leader Douglas Ross said a second referendum on Scottish independence would “divide our country and damage our economy”.
He said the commitments in his manifesto would help to “rebuild” the economy post-COVID, “using the powers of the Scottish Parliament to their maximum”.
Key pledges include the full rollout of fibre broadband by 2027, an extra £2bn for the NHS, the offer of a £500 skills grant to support reskilling and career changes, and recruiting more teachers and local police.
The party has also set out 15 bills it would seek to bring forward if elected on 6 May, including an enterprise bill within the first hundred days of a new parliament which would set up enterprise agencies in every region of Scotland and a bill to repeal the Hate Crime Act.
Speaking at the digital launch, Ross said: “If pro-UK voters unite behind the Scottish Conservatives, then we can stop an SNP majority. We have done it before.
“So, let’s now come together in the national interest. Let’s keep our country united and focused on the task at hand. Let’s get on the road to recovery and not allow the SNP to divert us with another independence referendum.”
Other commitments include £600m to help reduce NHS treatment times, 10 per cent of the overall health budget going towards mental health services and publishing a comprehensive review of drug treatment services by the end of the year.
The party said it would also launch a national tutoring programme, create a new schools inspection body and invest £120m to help pupils catch up with missed schooling.
On climate change, the manifesto commits to a £2.5bn plan to improve energy efficiency, passing a circular economy bill and planting 18,000 hectares of trees per year.
Ross also criticised Labour and the Lib Dems, claiming only his party had the “strength” to prevent an SNP majority.
He said: “We offered in good faith to work with other parties, but they are intent on ignoring the elephant in the room.
“Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer won’t even say if they will oppose an independence referendum the day after the election. The same old Labour, unwilling and unable to stand up to the nationalists.
“So, it falls upon us to take the fight to the SNP and say no to their plans to wreck our recovery.”