We have some hard thinking to do over the holiday period
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