SCOTLAND has become “much more bitter” since being “seized by the dead hand of nationalism”, Douglas Ross will argue in his conference address.
The Scottish Conservative MP and MSP is due to speak at his first in-person conference as party leader on Saturday afternoon, while battling a sore throat which is expected to limit the length of his speech.
He will take the opportunity to take aim at the SNP, saying Scotland have become more “inward looking” since coming to power in 2007.
Ross will say, “We have become divided against ourselves. Can anyone say Scotland 2022 is a better place than Scotland 2007?
“The nation I grew up in was confident and outward looking. Yet the nation my children are growing up in today is much more bitter and inward looking.
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Ross was born in 1983, suggesting he refers to Scotland’s pre-devolution under a Conservative government led by Margaret Thatcher and then John Major. Tony Blair’s Labor Party came to power in 1997, with the Scottish Parliament opening in 1999.
As polls suggest the Tories face an uphill battle in May’s local elections, Ross will urge the party to “bring together the silent majority of working people.”
He will say: “Scotland is becoming a smaller country every day the SNP stays in power.
“We are getting worse, both economically and intellectually, because we are stuck with a government that takes no responsibility.
“Our party must rally the silent majority of workers to break this deadlock.”
He will claim the Tories are building “a real alternative that will end the referendum obsession and get us all moving forward”.
Ross’s speech has already been criticized, with former prime minister Alex Salmond suggesting the Tories should find “a real majority, not a silent majority”.
The Alba leader said: “Mr Ross, the quiet new man in Scottish politics, uses Richard Nixon’s term ‘silent majority’ to express his hopes for a breakthrough. He was last claimed by his predecessor Baroness Davidson after the referendum on the road to another electoral disaster in 2015.
“The Scottish government I led was approved by the electorate by delivering a real, not silent, majority in a proportional parliament.
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“Douglas Ross, on the other hand, has made a fool of himself by his hokey-cokey performance on the question of whether his Prime Minister should remain in office. No doubt Douglas Ross will regain the power of speech. Coherent political thought will be more to him hard to get.
Scottish Labor leader Anas Sarwar accused Ross of “brazen hypocrisy”, saying he and his party had “spent years stoking” the division.
“The Conservatives are not the alternative to the SNP – they are their greatest asset,” he said.
“Their government is failing communities across Scotland and the UK and putting the very future of the country on the line.
“The Conservatives are not good enough to run the UK and they are not strong enough to stand up to the SNP.”