“It really is great to be here – back with our Scottish Conservative clan.
This is a team that has done great things.
In 2014, when the fate of our country hung in the balance…
…we were told it was too tight to call…
…but we won that referendum, and together we kept our four nations united.
In 2015, when Britain’s security was on the ballot paper…
…people said we were heading for a Labour-SNP alliance…
…but we stopped Miliband and Salmond in their tracks – and we kept on delivering security for all.
And now, in 2016, when we face some really tough elections…
…and the SNP lacks any sort of scrutiny from the second-largest party…
…we can give Scotland the strong alternative it needs.
That’s right: we, the Scottish Conservative Party; today we are the effective Opposition…
…and for the next 62 days, we’re going to fight to become the official Opposition.
DAVID, RUTH, CANDIDATES
And as I mention the general election, let me say this.
There may still only be one Scottish Tory MP – and it’s not easy.
But with this man, it’s a case of quality, not quantity.
One of the great moments of winning in May – and there were many…
…was knowing that we could have a Conservative Secretary of State in Scotland once again.
He’s doing a fantastic job, so let’s hear it for him: David Mundell.
Our next big challenge is right here in Scotland.
And we have a not-so-secret weapon…
…a formidable force in politics…
…our Sturgeon-slaying, Dugdale-defying, absolute star of a leader…
Ruth hasn’t just brought a new buzz into this party…
…she’s brought new blood.
Look at the huge range of candidates we’ve got standing on May 5th.
Peter Chapman – a Doric speaker from Strichen.
Adam Tomkins – a leading academic at Glasgow University.
Retail manager Annie Wells – Glaswegian, born and bred.
Lawyer Dean Lockhart – born on a council estate, on – get this – Keir Hardie Way.
These are just some of the brilliant people who will be fighting for seats at Holyrood over the next 62 days…
…and I think there are four big messages we need to get out there.
PARTY OF THE UNION
The first thing we need to tell voters is about the United Kingdom.
We always said we were the party of the Union.
But now it’s clear we’re the only party of the Union.
For the SNP, it’s still independence or nothing…
…despite us settling the matter for a generation.
And now we’ve got Labour – and the Lib Dems – saying their politicians can campaign either way if a second referendum should ever take place…
…effectively abandoning their support for the Union.
For Scotland, this is huge.
It leaves just one party – the Conservatives…
…and one person – Ruth…
…to speak up for the two million people who voted No in that referendum.
So tell those voters this:
If you care about your country…
…if you love Scotland and you know that our four nations are better together…
…then there’s only one party for you – and that’s the party in this room.
We didn’t just secure the future of the Union by holding a referendum, but by delivering real devolution.
We reached the latest milestone – a huge milestone – in that journey just last week.
I know some people doubted that we would ever get there.
At every turn, they said: “you can’t trust the Tories.”
At every turn, we proved them wrong.
They said we’d never see through Calman – we gave them the Scotland Act.
They said we wouldn’t actually hold a referendum – we did.
They said we’d never deliver extra powers – we have.
And they said we’d never follow Robert Smith’s recommendations.
He’s a man I admire. His recommendations are comprehensive – the biggest transfer of powers in the history of UK devolution…
…giving Scotland control over VAT spending, over income tax bands and even some aspects of welfare.
And what did we do? We implemented them.
As he has put it, this is Smith: “delivered in full.”
“This will be transformational for our Parliament,” he said.
And he was right.
There is now huge opportunity, proper accountability and full responsibility.
So it’s time for the SNP Scottish Government to end the grudge, gripe and grievance – and start to govern.
It’s an end to the blame game. The buck now stops at Bute House.
Smith delivered. Vow met. A devolution deal for a powerhouse parliament. Our Union made stronger.
All achieved by us – the Conservative and Unionist Party.
So we’ve won that argument: that you can have devolution in the UK…
…and be stronger, safer and better off as a result.
Now we need to win the next argument: that Scotland is stronger, safer and better off in a reformed Europe.
Let’s start with how we’re better off.
With the world wanting to drink its whisky, eat its salmon, wear its wool, buy its electronics and use its financial services…
…Scotland relies on the door to the Single Market being wide open.
There are 250,000 jobs, spanning so many Scottish sectors, that are linked to that ability to trade with Europe.
But let’s just look at one: food.
Today, Scottish farmers can sell their meat, without quotas, without tariffs, to a market of 500 million people.
But if Britain leaves, that could all change.
A trade deal – like the one Canada has agreed with the EU – could involve tariffs and quotas on our exports.
And if we have to fall back on the basic rules for global trade, that could mean tariffs as high as 13 per cent on Scottish salmon…
…40 per cent on lamb…
…and up to 70 per cent on some beef products.
I really think it’s time for those who want to leave to explain what Scotland would look like if we left, and to start giving voters some of these facts.
It’s for them to look those farmers in the eye and tell them if they’re going to have to pay tariffs, and, if so, how much.
And it’s for us to argue that when this great exporting nation can trade with the world, people are better off…
…with more jobs, more growth, more investment and more opportunities…
…all adding up to a brighter future for Scotland.
We will also be safer in a reformed Europe.
It’s there that we have areas of cooperation, like the European Arrest Warrant, through which we’ve extradited 7,000 foreign suspects.
We need to keep this co-operation up to keep our people safe.
And we’re stronger in a reformed Europe, too.
Our membership helps put Scotland in the driving seat on the world’s biggest issues.
And on this, Scotland proves something important.
It shows that you can be a strong, successful, proud Scot – and be part of the United Kingdom and European Union.
Being in these two clubs doesn’t diminish Scotland’s identity.
It doesn’t make you less of a Scot, or less patriotic.
What matters is turning patriotism into action.
Being able to get things done for the country you love.
I believe that’s what we can do in a reformed Europe…
…where we have the best of both worlds:
In all the things that are so important to us, like the Single Market…
…but carved out of all those things we don’t want any part of.
So no euro; no Eurozone bailouts; no European Army; no Schengen open borders; no European superstate.
If we left, we would be swapping that certainty for uncertainty.
So after we’ve won in Holyrood in 62 days, we all need to make that case for certainty…
…for the good of everyone in this great nation.
PARTY OF WORKING PEOPLE
We’ve worked so hard to get economy growing, get people into work, and see living standards rise.
Leaving the EU could put all that at risk.
And now there’s another risk to our economic security: tax rises.
So that’s the second thing we need to tell voters about: the risk from Labour.
Recently, they revealed their big idea to help hardworking people:
An income tax rise for everyone.
That’s right – just as people are getting jobs, seeing their pay rise ahead of inflation, seeing light at the end of the tunnel, Labour want to start raiding their pay packets.
Now they say they’re doing it to help the low paid.
But, tell me this: who is going to feel that tax rise?
Is it going to be the rich? Those with well-paid jobs? Those with big homes and no money worries?
It’s not. It’ll be the young teacher, just starting out.
It’ll be the nurse on 25 grand.
It’ll be the shop manager who has to watch every penny they spend.
Labour have said they’d hand some people £100 back if they fall below a certain threshold.
But how much would it even cost to administer that?
Wouldn’t the cost negate the revenue it was supposed to be generating?
How about – and here’s a novel idea – not taking their money off them in the first place?
It’s classic Labour: dock people’s pay, hand some money back to them – and then ask them to thank you for it.
We believe it is right that people keep more of the money they earn, not less.
It comes back to that Conservative motto:
“There’s no such thing as government money; only taxpayers’ money.”
And we have another motto for Scotland, too.
We believe no one should pay more tax here than they do in England, Wales or Northern Ireland…
…under Ruth – not a penny more.
So let the message go out to every hardworking low and middle earner: we are the party that’s on your side.
And never forget: we’re not just the party of those who want to get ahead…
…we’ve also got to make the difference for those who get left behind – those whose life chances were too often shot to pieces from the start.
As Ruth demonstrated with that excellent speech on fighting poverty just a few weeks ago….
…we need an approach that addresses the social causes – the subtle social inequality that can hold the brightest children back, simply because of their background.
And we can be proud that it’s us, the Conservatives, who are now the real progressives in Scottish politics today.
PARTY OF DEFENCE
The third thing we need to tell voters is that we’re the party of defence – the only party of defence.
Throughout history, this nation has bravely defended our liberty.
I think of the Black Watch in Flanders’ fields…
…the Highland Light Infantry at Gallipoli…
…the munitions workers on Clydebank…
…the sailors setting off from Orkney…
…and the Royal Scots – one of the most decorated regiments of the First World War.
Time and again, this country has protected its people, our United Kingdom – indeed the free world – from tyranny.
Their heirs are the brave men and women who work to keep us safe today.
The people building aircraft carriers and frigates on the Forth and Clyde…
…those working on the lochs to maintain our submarines…
…those flying across the perilous skies of Syria and Iraq, training troops in Afghanistan, scrambling planes over the Baltic.
Because they do their duty by us, we do our duty by them.
That means meeting our NATO target to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence.
It means building those ships, supplying that military equipment and backing our forces and veterans.
Because we’re the party of the Armed Forces – now, forever and always.
The other two main parties in Scotland are in a different place on this.
We know the SNP has long objected to our deterrent.
But now Labour seems on course to officially oppose it, too.
Just last week Nicola Sturgeon was on the same CND platform as Jeremy Corbyn in Trafalgar Square.
That’s right – standing in the shadow of Nelson, arguing to leave our country defenceless.
In such dangerous times…
…with Russian aggression raging, with Daesh on the rampage…
…their opposition to Trident puts defence jobs and our national security at risk…
…and, as Conservatives, we can never, ever let that happen.
PARTY TO TAKE ON THE SNP
The fourth thing we need to tell voters is that we’re the party that can challenge the SNP – now the only party that can challenge the SNP.
They’ve been in power for 9 years – they are the establishment.
And with Labour’s collapse, Scotland is in danger of becoming a one-party state.
Look at their litany of failure.
Children’s school attainment – stagnating.
The number of college students – falling.
Help for poorer students at university – cut.
Increasing health spending like England – unfulfilled.
Then there’s the mess of the law that bans football songs.
There’s the lost accountability of merging eight police forces into one.
There’s the abolition of Right to Buy – yes, even though Nicola Sturgeon’s family benefitted from it, she’s saying that you can’t.
There’s even the absurd Named-Person policy, which ensures every child is allocated a guardian – even if they have parents; even if they have no need for this extra layer of bureaucracy.
Well I’ll tell you who needs a guardian – someone to keep them in check – it’s the SNP.
And it falls to us, the Conservatives, the only party fit to expose these spendthrift, out-of-touch, dogmatic, inept nationalists for what they really are.
It’s ten years since I became your leader.
And from day one I’ve believed in a bright future for the Scottish Conservative Party.
I knew it was right to look forward, not back – and that we should be the party that made devolution work.
It knew it was right that we didn’t just talk to ourselves, but sought new support and new talent.
I knew that we – the modern, compassionate Conservatives – would always be the only ones standing up for the Union…
…keeping our defences strong…
…and delivering for hardworking people.
No matter how long it took, no matter how hard it was, we’ve stuck at it, and come back every year, believing in what we can achieve.
It has never been easy.
But with our leader, Ruth.
With Labour’s collapse.
With the SNP arrogant and overbearing.
Let’s make this our moment.
Let’s drape ourselves in red, white, and Saltire blue.
Let’s do more great things.
Let’s get out there over the next 62 days – and let’s win for Scotland.
“It really is great to be here – back with our Scottish Conservative clan.