With polls indicating a win for the SNP in the Scottish elections in 2021, and widespread dissatisfaction with the Conservative leadership, Andrew Waddell outlines six things he believes the Scottish Conservatives can do to get back on track.
#6 Get back to opposing Nationalists
Instead of criticising Jacob Rees Mogg, or praising Sturgeon’s handling of the crisis, Scottish Conservatives should be hammering home Nationalist failures. It’s not like there are few to choose from: from the Nike Cover Up, to the failure to deliver councils their additional funding from Westminster, anti-English racists on the border, the third-worst COVID death rate in the world, and an appalling number of deaths in care homes.
Scottish Conservatives inherited a team of thirty one MSPs from Ruth Davidson’s promise to offer Scotland strong opposition. They must work together to deliver that strong opposition or it will cost them, and us, at the next Holyrood elections.
#5 Carlaw must lead
Whether it’s through tweets or during his performance at First Minister’s Questions, I hold my head in my hands over the lack of opposition that Jackson Carlaw gives the SNP.
Simply shouting and pointing the finger at the SNP is not enough to persuade Scotland’s voters that the Conservatives have ideas and proposals of how they would do things differently, to benefit Scots the length and breadth of the country.
If I were Jackson Carlaw, I would stop getting pulled into the arguments of the constitution. Scotland’s problems extend further than the constitution. Carlaw has to take the fight back to Nationalists by focusing on the bread and butter issues Scotland cares about – health, education, transport and social care. All of which the SNP have failed Scotland over.
#4 Fight for health, education and more
The Conservatives must be the alternative to a Government more interested in wasting time on debating whether they should fly the EU Flag, than the terrible state of Scotland’s education, health and transport.
In transport, we have seen the embarrassment that is Abellio Scotrail, falling into failure from the word go. Abellio’s Scotrail franchise was terminated three years early over performance issues.
In education, we have seen the country slip down world rankings with the diabolical Curriculum for Excellence scheme and the sham that is national qualifications. John Swinney has been a disaster for education, yet even when forced into U-turn after U-turn, the Conservatives can’t seem to touch him.
In health, we have seen the Scottish Government failing to meet the majority of their Accident and Emergency targets that they themselves set; and the absolute disgrace that is the Royal Hospital for Children, now scheduled to open in 2021, a whole four years late. And, of course, the many COVID-19 errors.
#3 Make a tactical voting plan
Tactical voting is a great idea, but it rarely works at an individual level. To stop another four years of Nationalist agitation, we must consider co-ordinated action at the party level.
For example, in 2017, in my constituency of Lanark and Hamilton East, the Conservatives received 16,178 votes, just 266 votes less than the SNP’s Angela Crawley’s 16,444 votes. Meanwhile Labour received 16,084 votes.
That means just 16,444 Nationalists beat 32,262 anti-Nationalists.
Even though, in the same constituency, Nationalists gained 5000 votes in 2019, it’s still less than the number of anti-Nationalists. How is that fair to the voters?
Surely, in seats that Labour can’t win they should stand down, and the Tories should do the same in seats where they can’t win.
Admittedly, this will be no easy task, but in these times we need novel cross-party solutions that will actually benefit the majority of people who want to see an end to Nationalism in Scotland.
#2 Shout out the UK’s pandemic lifelines
Sadly, many Scots believe that Nicola Sturgeon has done a good job for Scotland during this pandemic, primarily because the First Minister has turned her daily Coronavirus briefings into an unchallenged party political podcast. Listening to her, you’d think the UK Government had nothing to do with fighting the virus, or was performing poorly. This simply isn’t true.
In fact, the UK Government has done an incredible job for Scots during this pandemic. From the Furlough Scheme that has saved nearly one million jobs in Scotland, to the extra £3.6 billion through the Barnett Formula, being part of the UK has protected Scotland from the full economic harm this situation could have caused.
However, for Nationalists, these examples are “never good enough”. The Scottish Conservatives must start talking about the positives of being part of a United Kingdom that pools and shares resources, but also ask why Nationalists are never satisfied with the benefits of working together.
#1 Hammer Sturgeon’s COVID-19 pandemic failures
I believe the most important thing Jackson Carlaw and the Scottish Conservatives can do right now is to do everything they can to tell the public about Nicola Sturgeon’s COVID failures.
From the Nike Cover Up, where the Scottish Government hid an early viral outbreak that led to many unnecessary infections, through the many failings of Jeane Freeman, to the Care Home Scandal that has led to thousands of unnecessary deaths, and the third worst death rate in the world, the Scottish Government’s answer always seems to be deflection: It wisnae us!
Poor Scottish results are always compared with England, which has entirely different conditions, and legitimate questions are stifled by Nicola Sturgeon claiming that her opponents are somehow “playing politics”. I am sorry, but politics must never stop in a democracy. Failure to oppose a party in Government leads to a dictatorial government.
It seems hardly anyone in opposition or the media is pressing the Government over what happened and why. Surely, we need a public inquiry into these failings? Surely, we need them to be exposed?
Carlaw must tell Sturgeon that she cannot use weasel words and cheap political gimmicks to hide behind her many COVID failures and all Conservative MPs and MSPs must up their game and start opposing hard and fast, before it is too late.
Andy Waddell is a Conservative Member & Activist, from South Lanarkshire. Follow him on Twitter @andrewwaddell_
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Scot Tories are not getting the same air time as SNP so struggling to fight against ‘The Daily Nicola Sturgeon Show’. Why don’t they have a have a Youtube channel.
I think they might have legitimate grounds for complaint to Ofcom. Sturgeon has turned these daily briefings into political broadcasts.
Every time there is a disaster highlighted or waiting in the wings the SNP release another squirrel or throw another dead cat on the table. We really have to start recognising those for what they are – the magician’s misdirection tactics. Let’s not get involved in discussing the topics they want us to eg, imaginary borders and Independence threats, but concentrate on the realities. The current crop of ‘opposition’ MSPs are far too happy being the ‘opposition’. They take the money, issue the odd ‘aren’t the SNP just awful’ in a Dick Emery voice and think the’ve done a great… Read more »
Another good article and none of the 6 points would I disagree with. However, I think point 3 will be very difficult to realise given the reluctance of Labour to work with Conservatives on local councils. I would also like to see something being developed by Conservatives about the UK and Scotland ‘a part in it. Personally I think Ruth failed to do this and actually ended up on the same page as Sturgeon over Brexitand Boris. This was a great opportunity missed to show we are part of the UK and whither it goest we go too. Basically, if… Read more »