Scottish Election : Gear Up for Victory or Prepare For Defeat

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

By Dillon Kennedy

The countdown to the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections is on with 5 months to go. There is a choice for Scottish voters, whether they want an SNP Government that will use a win in Holyrood as a signal for a second independence referendum or voting for the Scottish Conservative and Unionists (the largest opposition party) that would ensure that we have a government that works for the Scottish people and continues the 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 the conservatives will lose 9 seats.

At the time of writing, the SNP have announced all their candidates standing in 2021 and regularly formulate policy ideas even if many are ill-conceived and rushed through parliament with little thought. To prevent an SNP victory the 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 needing 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.

We also need to tackle teacher shortages which will be key to solving many challenges, the schools in Scotland face. The SNP has constantly ignored parents and teachers and Scotland's 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. The single best way to improve education is to lower class sizes.

We also need to support our local communities by 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 are dependent on fast internet access. This should be a flagship policy for any 2021 manifesto. If the Scottish Conservatives want to return to the field as a true political force they need to design policies aimed at the forgotten communities of Scotland.

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. cutting taxes, business rates and red tape will be far more useful in economic recovery after the pandemic. There is little to say about this as it is a no brainer. If you want businesses to succeed you need to get out of their way!

The final point we need to focus on is employment, we need to ensure that we have high-quality well-paid jobs for people coming out of education. We need to create jobs that 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 13 years of an SNP government and change is long overdue.

Many people I speak to, including many of my family, believe that Scots are being treated as second class citizens by the UK Government. I believe this is simply not the case as it's the Scottish Government that 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 and unfortunately, this smear has worked. SNP "trust figures are up in all departments while the opposition parties are down. This highlights a further problem with the current approach to opposition. We need to actually put our point across.

We need opposition politicians hitting the media hard by appearing everywhere possible. Shows like debate night and question time are on their last legs. Why does Ruth or Douglas offer to attend and get some prime air time? (The BBC won't say no) Articles should be written, radio interviews engaged with and a relentless stream of polished social media content with a bit of bite and sting. 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 highlight the failures of the SNP in government but more importantly offer a positive, transformative and ambitious alternative and take Scotland forward.