Mike Vickers' Blog

February 15, 2014

A Union revived – Ruth Davidson – in more detail

Filed under: DHI SPIF, Politics, Scotland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 9:56 am

Ruth Davidson, Tory party leader in Scotland.  The last of the series laid on by the David Hume Institute to provide a platform for the Scottish Politicians tell members what they propose for Scotland in this Referendum year.

I had not heard Ruth Davidson speak before, well at least for so long.  She came over as someone relaxed, with a touch of humour and well in control of what she wanted to say.  More importantly she answered a set of exploring questions fluently and ducking only slightly.

Her main theme was the Union had lasted for 300 years, why change it.  She acknowledged that there had been mistakes in the past which should have been sorted, but the Referendum debate was timely in getting these on the table.  The Tory party under Lord Strathclyde is bringing together the reforms it would see to the Scottish Government given a NO vote; it was good to hear her mentioning the Scotland Act 2012 as a start.  She said she was unable to pre-empt the reforms but indicated it would recommend more tax raising powers for Scotland but would maintain welfare with Westminster to maintain parity of provision across the UK.  They would also be looking at a rebalancing of private versus public.  The party wants Scotland to be Responsible and Accountable.  She acknowledged that this looks like SNP policy, but No it is very Conservative: there has always been conservatives with a small ‘c’ in Scotland.  In contrast Davidson typified the SNP trying to appear Left of Labour.

Ms Davidson followed David Cameron’s lead in praising the Union as good for Scotland and good for the UK as a whole; the UK is one close knit community which would be broken asunder by a separate country Scotland.  No mention of the Scottish Tory Independence group ‘Wealthy Nation’!

She criticised the SNP for trying to cherry pick features it would like to share with rUK; of course currency, regulation, university research etc and saying goodbye to the rest; more generally for implying that the Scots are lodgers in the UK; are badly treated and unwelcome.

She stressed that since the 19th century it was the Tories who have spearheaded increasing devolved control to Scotland (only partly true).  She stated that there would have been no rescue package for RBS and Bank of Scotland if Scotland had been an independent country cf Iceland where the banks had gone bust.  She recognised that times continue to be hard but there has been recovery under the coalition with Scotland going slightly better than the UK as a whole.  She was most critical of the SNP wanting a currency union based on the £ but at the same time not committing to the £ indefinitely; all this does is bring jitters to the market.

Interestingly she stressed the great work that Scottish MPs do at Westminster!

Davidson repeatedly made the point that she feels both Scottish and British and can see no contradiction: she opposes ‘North British’.

She is for more ‘localism’ – decentralised power to local authorities with stronger local revenue raising; again re-balancing between Edinburgh and the local authorities.  She could see no value in a Scottish House of Lords but criticised the present Committee Structure where Committees are packed with party representatives – in this respect having one centralised Police Force had been forced through and is totally wrong.

To Cameron’s desire to renegotiate the UK’s membership of the EU; this is to be expected as there has been no review during the 56 years of the EU’s existence ( what about Maastricht and Lisbon!).  In the same way it is to be expected that Scottish Devolution is now being revisited through the Referendum.

As to Better Together she felt that the Tories at least are doing as many door to door visits as the SNP.  She stated that there had never any intention of a unified statement between the three parties as to what they would do after a No vote, only that each party would bring clarity to their individual positions before the Referendum Date – Lord Strathclyde’s report is due out in May.

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