Cllr Ross Thomson is a Member of the Scottish Parliament and a councillor on Aberdeen City Council.
Aberdeen, the “Granite City”, is Scotland’s third city and, as the home of the UK’s oil and gas industry, has performed strongly economically as a globally competitive city.
It is not just the powerhouse of economic growth in Scotland but also across the UK. Gross Value Added growth in Aberdeen has consistently outstripped Scotland and the UK since 2008.
Aberdeen is a tremendous success story. However, the city’s reliance on the oil and gas industry has made it particularly susceptible to global factors such as fluctuations in the oil price, competing labour markets, as well as issues around both digital and physical infrastructure investment. The economic downturn plaguing the city has been well documented.
The politics of Aberdeen has been historically mixed. When I was elected to Aberdeen City Council in 2012 it was against the backdrop of poor results for the Scottish Conservatives nationally.
Since then Ruth Davidson has changed perceptions of our party. People are once again willing to listen to what we have to say when it comes to defending Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom, and holding the SNP to account. This support delivered us a stunning result in the North East region in 2016, returning five MSPs.
So with our best result ever in 2016 as a springboard for the upcoming council elections, what is next in store for Aberdeen?
This May, we will field excellent local candidates across Aberdeen, one of whom is a former Labour member.
Our contingent of community champions along with our strong message on the union is a powerful combination which I believe will resonate strongly on the doorstep. Our members and our candidates are energised like never before and are already campaigning.
People across the political divide respect our ability to listen to voters, whether in accepting the UK’s vote for Brexit, or Scotland’s vote to protect our place in the United Kingdom.
We have a strong and passionate national message. But local politics are always important in council elections, and our great candidates understand the key issues affecting communities across Scotland.
Aberdeen is the lowest funded council anywhere in Scotland. This year alone we have been slapped with a further £13 million in cuts from the SNP Government.
The SNP proposed a council tax grab on properties in Band E – H, hitting over 30,000 families in Aberdeen, which they planned to spend in the Central Belt. Our opposition meant the SNP climbed down from their ludicrous redistribution policy, but they will still force through a council tax increase of up to £600 for some households.
More council tax, fewer services, a £15million shortfall in our local NHS, a teaching staffing crisis, and a record increase in business rates – which will see some local businesses face an increase of over 250%. When it comes to Aberdeen, it’s all take, take, take from the SNP!
With Scottish Labour in a crisis of leadership, it’s down to the Scottish Conservatives alone to stand up to the SNP’s devastating economic policies and divisive independence rhetoric.
With this approach, I’m confident that we will achieve our best council election results yet.