Updated: Jul 26, 2020
The countdown to the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections are on with 10 months to go. There is a choice for Scottish voters, whether they want an SNP Government that will use this win as fuel for a second independence referendum or voting for the Scottish Conservative and Unionist and ensuring that we have a government that works for the Scottish people and ensures a strong union with the rest of the United Kingdom.
According to recent polling, it seems that the Scottish National Party will win Holyrood with a majority of 19, seeing their numbers skyrocket from 63 to 74. If these poll numbers are correct then we will lose 9 seats. We are losing some of our biggest stars in this election, with Ruth Davidson and Adam Tomkins both announcing they will not stand in the election. This opens up their constituencies (Edinburgh Central and Glasgow) to attack by SNP who will try and gain their seats. We know that SNP big hitters Joanna Cherry and Angus Robertson have shown interest in standing as an MSP for Ruth's seat. At the time of writing, we do not know who will stand for the SNP in Glasgow.
To prevent this our messaging needs to be ambitious and clear and backed by a manifesto replete with policies beyond standing up for the union. There are three points we need to focus on, they are Education, Supporting local communities and Employment. On Education. The SNP proposed widening access to Higher and Further education in Scotland but in reality, statistics from HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) show that the percentage of pupils from state schools in Scotland is below that of the rest of the UK and that dropout rates in Scotland are above those for the rest of the country. The funding situation in Scotland and the encouragement of those who would find more success doing an apprenticeship are to blame. Two obvious policies are clear from this. We also need to tackle teacher shortages which will be key to solving many challenges, the schools in Scotland face. The SNP have constantly ignored parents and teachers and Scotlands falling literacy rates are a black mark on the SNP's record. Our education system should be the best in the world, as it once was.
We also need to support our local communities through rolling out superfast broadband to those who don't have access to the internet for work and personal use. Our rural economies, the tourist industry and the wellbeing of communities is dependent on fast internet access. This should be a flagship policy for any 2021 manifesto. We also need to support local businesses and ask the public to shop locally to save the high street that has struggled through the pandemic. However, this alone is not enough. Well meaning Instagram posts are all well and good but cutting taxes and red tape will be far more useful in economic recovery.
The final point we need to focus on is employment, we need to ensure that all have high quality well paid jobs for people coming out of education. Conservatives have always prioritised fairness in work, whether that's ensuring that all employees get equal pay for their work to improving work conditions. We need to create jobs which are highly skilled, well paid and fulfilling. The SNPs opposition to nuclear energy has prevented an industry that could see cities rejuvenated, jobs created and energy prices cut.
Voting for the Scottish Conservatives is the best way to protect the union. This is known to all yet it is the policies in the parties manifestos that will decide this election. The Conservative party must present itself as being an alternative government rather than an opposition party (as it has previously campaigned to be). We have had an SNP government since 2007, is it not time to show what we can do in government here in Scotland working in partnership with Westminster. Many people I speak to, including many of my family, believe that Scotland is being treated as second class citizens by the UK Government. I believe this is simply not the case as it's the Scottish Government which makes the decisions for the Scottish people and it has done a terrible job. We've had years of the First Minister and the Scottish government blaming the UK government for everything going wrong. It's time we show the Scottish electorate, what we can do for Scotland and take us away from the path of division and be strong as one. We need to talk about the failures of the SNP in government but more importantly offer a positive, transformative and ambitious alternative.