We have some hard think­ing to do over the hol­i­day pe­riod

Rutherglen Reformer - - Memory Lane -

As the schools break up and the sum­mer hol­i­days be­gin, it’s the tra­di­tional time for an end of year re­port card. If I was putting one to­gether on Scot­tish pol­i­tics just now, it would be a mixed bag.

For some­one who feels Scot­land is best served by stay­ing part of the UK, the ref­er­en­dum re­sult is a big tick – about as big as it gets.

And the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive in me is im­mea­sur­ably pleased about the gen­eral elec­tion re­sult, where David Cameron se­cured an over­all ma­jor­ity. I gen­uinely be­lieve it gives us the chance to se­cure a last­ing re­cov­ery that will be good for all the UK, no mat­ter peo­ples’ cir­cum­stances.

But it would be foolish to ig­nore the wider im­pli­ca­tions of that elec­tion re­sult. The SNP’s suc­cess in win­ning 56 of Scot­land’s 59 Westminster seats was a re­mark­able achieve­ment and it would be churl­ish not to recog­nise it as such.

It leaves those of us on the op­po­si­tion benches in Scot­land with some hard think­ing to do as we take a short but welcome break this sum­mer.

And we don’t have long. I’m sorry to re­mind Re­former read­ers, but as soon as the nights be­gin to draw back in we’ll be straight back on the cam­paign trail ahead of next May’s Holy­rood elec­tions.

As we move to­wards that poll, Ni­cola Stur­geon has ev­ery right to be con­fi­dent.

Scot­tish Labour is spend­ing its sum­mer hol­i­day in the now time-hon­oured fash­ion – not by tak­ing a break, but by hav­ing yet another lead­er­ship race. It doesn’t look like a party ready to gov­ern.

But any good democ­racy needs a strong op­po­si­tion. It’s only through a bat­tle of ideas that coun­tries move for­ward, and we keep gov­ern­ments hon­est.

I want to try and of­fer a real pro-Union al­ter­na­tive to the SNP - one that stands up for Scot­land’s place in the UK, and speaks up for fam­i­lies who want to get on in life.

That’s the job we now have ahead of us. And it starts with chal­leng­ing the SNP on their record, and their claim to com­pe­tence.

By next May the SNP will have been in gov­ern­ment for nine years and in many re­spects, Scot­land’s public ser­vices are in no bet­ter shape than when they en­tered of­fice. Take ed­u­ca­tion, where re­cent sta­tis­tics showed that lit­er­acy lev­els are in de­cline or health – where A&E tar­gets are rou­tinely missed.

We haven’t heard nearly enough about these is­sues over the last year or so.

The ref­er­en­dum and the elec­tion cam­paign at Westminster has en­sured that the bread and but­ter is­sues have been squeezed out. But if there’s one task I want to achieve over the next year it’s putting these back front and cen­tre.

I know the SNP is en­joy­ing its sum­mer of suc­cess right now. And I don’t wish to spoil the party. But self-con­grat­u­la­tion is not the same as mak­ing real and last­ing im­prove­ments to the way the coun­try is run.

I’m sure the SNP would write a glow­ing re­port card for it­self as it toasts its elec­toral suc­cess.

But if I was writ­ing it for them, the take­away would be sim­ple – must do bet­ter.

Break Ruth David­son en­joys a chip­pie by the beach as the school hol­i­days get un­der­way, but the reck­ons the SNP’s re­port card would not make good read­ing

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