Being the second largest party in Scotland is not enough the Scottish Conservative leader said.
19 March 2022
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has set his eyes on Bute House as he told party members they will need the support of the “silent majority” in the 2026 Holyrood election.
Addressing the Scottish Tory conference in Aberdeen, Mr Ross said coming second is “not good enough” and he urged the party to “take back Scotland”.
The comment comes after a poll by Savanta ComRes for the Scotsman put the Tories in third place, behind Scottish Labour in second.
“There are so many people who are looking for anyone who can step up and beat them, who can remove this SNP Government, who can kick Nicola Sturgeon out of Bute House,” Mr Ross told delegates on the final day of the conference.
“Because coming second place, being the largest opposition, is not enough.
“At the end of the day, the nationalists are still in power.”
The country, Mr Ross said, is stuck “in a bind” of voting for the SNP but not supporting an independence referendum.
The same poll found 59% of Scots want preparations for a second independence referendum put on hold due to the war in Ukraine.
Mr Ross went one: “We cannot allow this to continue forever.
“We need to take back Scotland from the SNP, and we know there is a majority out there to take us forward.
“The same silent majority that said No to Nicola Sturgeon in 2014.
“Our goal must be to bring that majority together again to break this deadlock.”
The Tory leader, who struggled with a throat illness this week that saw him skip First Minister’s Questions, said the silent majority must “rediscover its voice, just like I’ve done today”.
The Moray MP admitted there is a “mountain to climb” to remove the SNP from power, adding: “We need to be bold and ambitious now.
“Not just because of the local elections in May, at which I want to see as many Scottish Conservative councillors elected as possible.
“But also because Scotland does not want to only hear about a strong opposition anymore.”
Speaking to journalists after the speech, Mr Ross said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is “rattled”, adding she “doesn’t seem to be enjoying the job”.
The conference saw an apparent healing of the rift between leaders of the Tories north and south of the border after most of the party’s MSPs called for the Prime Minister to resign amid the partygate saga.
Boris Johnson gave a well-received speech to members in Aberdeen on Friday, after initial plans for him to appear by video-link were scrapped.
During a meeting between the pair before Mr Johnson’s speech, Mr Ross said the only topic of conversation was the war in Ukraine.
In his speech, Mr Ross also looked to the council elections in May, saying the Tories are “the only party you can trust to put your local priorities first”.
He also hit out at Scottish Labour, claiming it would always prefer to form a “left-wing alliance over a unionist pact”.
He added: “Just like last year, as soon as the election is over Labour councillors will be making backroom deals to hand the keys to our town and city halls over to Nicola Sturgeon.”
During his own party’s conference in Glasgow recently, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said he would be against the formation of local coalitions, but would invite Labour councillors to work with other parties for the good of local areas.
Responding to Mr Ross’s speech, Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “The Tories are a gift for an SNP that is failing Scotland.
“Douglas Ross has been humiliated with an abridged speech to a half-empty hall, while the grandees of the Conservative Party have a beach party in Blackpool without him.
“The landscape of Scottish politics has changed. The Tories are collapsing in the polls and Scottish Labour are clearly ahead.”