Saying no to #indyref2 allows us to say Yes to so much more

Saying no to #indyref2 allows us to say Yes to so much more

by Jackson Carlaw
article from Monday 10, February, 2020

IT TOOK SIX MONTHS from the General Election in April 1992 before the Major government imploded on Black Wednesday. Astonishingly, in just six short weeks since December's General Election, Scotland's SNP government looks beleaguered and bankrupt both politically and morally. Suddenly the failures in all our public services seem glaringly apparent while scandal engulfs Nicola Sturgeon's government with more to come.

In these final few days of voting in the Scottish Conservative leadership contest, members should keep to the forefront of their minds the potential prize. After 14 years of SNP failure, Scotland may finally be ready and be persuaded to vote for change. I am asking for the support of all those ready to rise to that challenge. I have led the party through a tough election campaign, faced off against Nicola Sturgeon at over 40 FMQs, more than got her measure, have toured every part of Scotland meeting not just members but businesses and voters too. I have the experience and I am ready to lead. It is why I have the backing of every conservative MSP and MP who has declared a preference, all of our council group leaders as well as key activists and members the length and breadth of Scotland. This is not the time for an extended internal debate about party structures and processes, the future of the country is at stake. Now is the time to fight for an alternative government for Scotland.

Our "Say No to Indyref2" strategy has been at the centre of the debate in this contest. I make no apology for placing the Union, once again, at the heart of last December's campaign. And I will not relent. If not us standing up for the Union and against a second independence referendum, then who? Labour no longer seem certain and other unionist parties lack the strength. Across Scotland, the majority of Scotland looks to us and we will not let them down.

However, we are also saying no to Indyref2 so that we can say yes to so much else. With every public service entering the 2020s in a worse state than even a year ago, a huge opportunity presents itself. It's time for us to articulate that alternative future for Scotland and to go out there and sell it with all the passion and commitment with which we have fought for Scotland's place in the United Kingdom.

That future must offer hope, encouragement, reward for success and be as compassionate as it is compelling. We will tackle as an immediate priority the SNP tax penalty hitting those who have worked hard in their careers, earning between 26k and 50k yet find themselves paying up to £1500 more in tax than they would be paying for the same job anywhere else in the UK. We will restore both the 2000 teachers lost under the SNP and the reputation of Scottish education. We will remove the cap on Scottish students applying to Scottish universities while also showing that we equally value those choosing apprenticeships by abolishing their Council Tax. We will ensure Scotland's police have the funding they need. And we will work with others, allied health care professionals, clinicians and anyone with its best interests at heart, to ensure a sustainable future of excellence in our NHS.

More than this though, Scottish Conservatives will be bold on housing. We are the party of home ownership and just as previous UK conservative governments led a revolution in housing in the 1950s and again in the 1980s, we need to lead another now. Whether to offer the hope of home ownership to a younger generation of Scots increasingly despondent at their chance or to provide a range of suitable housing options for those in later life, in their communities yet retaining their independence if that is their choice. In the 20 years of devolved government, housing has been ignored. Under a Scottish Conservative government it will become a national priority led from within the cabinet.

All this will require a dynamic and entrepreneurial economy, working with the rest of the UK, facing the challenges and more importantly seizing the opportunities outside of the EU. We can't afford to spend this next decade squabbling over outdated constitutional grievances, trying to turn the clock back, dividing amongst ourselves all over again. Our national focus must now be on renewal and on creating a successful future for all who live here. We say no to indyref2 so we can say yes to so much else.

Scotland does not need its alternative government to become a debating society, it needs the Scottish Conservatives to step forward, challenge this floundering and failing SNP, take on Nicola Sturgeon, offer an alternative and then lead. Lead with energy, passion and conviction. I am ready to lead a team who will do just that.

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