Arguing that only her party can offer a “clash of ideas” necessary to hold the Scottish Nationalist party to account, Ruth Davidson said: “On tax, on policy and on the great dividing line of this political age – the union – we are the party which can give what so many people want: a check on the SNP’s power.”
“We’re saying to people: vote for us and we will do a very specific task for you – we’ll hold the Scottish government to account in the Scottish parliament. I just can’t see Labour doing that job given the decline they’ve had and the mess they’re in.”
Scottish Labour’s electoral troubles, combined with Davidson’s personal popularity, have led to speculation that May’s Holyrood elections could see a Tory surge. But recent polling suggests that Scottish Conservatives are not benefitting disproportionately from voters switching their preferences away from the SNP.
According to the latest figures, they remain consistently behind Labour on both regional and constituency votes. Davidson has also encountered criticism amid accusations that she has failed to differentiate herself sufficiently from George Osborne on disability cuts.
She also used the lunch to promise that her party will campaign to repeal the contentious “named person” scheme. While the Scottish government insists that this scheme offers a single point of contact for children and families to go to for advice, support or early intervention, opponents argue that it has the potential to intrude too much into family life.
Calling the legislation “ill-judged, illiberal and intrusive”, the Scottish Conservatives leader said: “My fear is not just that it will heap extra work on health visitors and teachers, though it will, it’s not just that it completely changes the relationship between the state and the family; although it does – my real fear is that by spreading resources so thin to cover every child in the country that it will take away attention from the most vulnerable, making the appalling cases of abuse more likely, not less.”
The Tories, who abstained on the legislation at the time it was passing through parliament, would “prioritise its immediate repeal after the election, as the principle opposition party at Holyrood, said Davidson.
Scottish Labour also recently called for a halt to the controversial scheme, despite backing the proposals in the Scottish parliament.
This article was written by Libby Brooks, for theguardian.com on Thursday 7th April 2016 18.13 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010