Professional politician? No, a leader needs a track record grounded in real life experiences

Professional politician? No, a leader needs a track record grounded in real life experiences

by Michelle Ballantyne
article from Friday 24, January, 2020

THIS WEEK we found out many of our police stations are falling apart, our children are leaving university with more debt than ever before and, across a wide range of wellbeing measures, Scotland is in a worse position than when the SNP first came to power.

Nicola Sturgeon and her peers have continued to preach their tired rhetoric. Meanwhile, genuine concerns from police officers are dismissed as ‘hype’ by our Justice Secretary. At the same time, the Education Secretary is fed up of the opposition parties’ ‘moanfest’ and the First Minister ignores our public services deteriorating before her syes while at the same time schedules more debates on Scottish Independence. 

Barely a week goes by in the Scottish Parliament without the SNP forcing a debate on indyref2, Brexit and other reserved matters, while meaningful debate about the catastrophe at the Sick Kids Hospital, the financial dealings at Ferguson Marine or falling attainment in our schools are all stifled.

I share the public’s fatigue with the constitutional debate. Beyond Indyref2, people are looking to their politicians for policies that will benefit them and their families.

My interest has always been orientated around our public services.  Beyond being on the front line as a nurse and NHS manager, I worked in the voluntary sector to build and head up a drug and alcohol service for young people and offenders. I have served on PTAs, school boards, and been a trustee of charities supporting vulnerable families. I served as a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF VRT, I am currently the patron of a food bank with which I have been involved since its inception while I have also managed an estate that was left in trust for the benefit of the community.

I’d never been involved with politics until 2010 and became a local councillor in 2012 where I led the Conservative Group on Scottish Borders Council. It’s from my experience in business and in politics that I truly understand the importance of pushing past the sloganeering, virtue-signalling and headline-chasing to find solutions that work on the ground. I’ve delivered real change on the front-line of our public services and now I want to do the same for Scotland.

If I am elected leader of the Scottish Conservatives, my political priorities will be ensuring that we all have a level playing field when it comes to opportunity.  I want a truly Blue Collar Revolution that reshapes the priorities of the Scottish Parliament so that it delivers for working people across Scotland. Whether it’s keeping our streets safe, reviving the NHS or getting our trains back on track, it’s time that politicians made sure that our public services are centred around those who depend on them. I know that being an entrepreneur is tough, and that’s why I want to tear down the barriers that businesses face in Scotland so we can promote innovation, growth and secure jobs.

In the 2019 General Election we saw Boris Johnson triumph over the Marxist Jeremy Corbyn in Dudley North, Bassetlaw, Bolsover and Great Grimsby. Twenty Four Labour strong hold seats in England and Wales elected Conservative MPs for the first time in a generation.

Having lived in one of the most deprived areas in the East End of London, I know that despite the SNP’s narrative, working communities north and south of the border are, other than their location, not all that different. Post-industrial working class communities in Central Scotland face the same challenges and hold the same aspirations as communities in the North East of England.

The success across England and Wales can be our success too. In those areas where the Conservatives broke through the Labour red wall, we pitched a truly aspirational blue collar policy offering – which we failed to do in Scotland. We never gave Labour voters a positive reason to vote for us.

I have a proven track record of implementing change and delivering value for money. If elected leader of the Scottish Conservatives I will put forward a detailed plan for areas where we can divert frivolous SNP spending towards improving our schools, hospitals and public services.

I’m not a career politician. I have principles founded in the real world. If the Scottish Conservatives are to be serious about levelling up and defeating the SNP in 2021 we can’t just say the SNP aren’t good enough. We have to show voters why we are better. I believe I’m the best person for the job. Come and join me!

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