Ruth Davidson asked to ‘show respect’ and clarify budget cut remarks

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By a Newsnet reporter

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has been criticised after suggesting that Scotland’s budget will be cut if Scots reject independence in the 2014 referendum.

In a series of slip-ups at their sparsely attended party conference in Troon at the weekend, the Tory leader in Scotland revealed that plans to cut Scotland’s funding if the anti-independence parties get their desired ‘No’ vote and maintain the constitutional status quo.

Ms Davidson, who has hinted at slashing funding of £1,500 from everyone in Scotland, suggested that the mechanism used to determine Scotland’s block grant would be revised and said: “Barnett was only supposed to be temporary … The ground has shifted since devolution.”

SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson responded to Ms Davidson’s comments by saying that the Tories keep neglecting to treat the people of Scotland with the ‘respect’ they promised.

Pointing to recent Treasury figures that confirmed Scotland was currently contributing more to the UK than it received in return, the Cunninghame North MSP said:

“Ruth Davidson urgently needs to clarify her remarks.  The Tory position appears to be – vote No to independence, and then we will cut Scotland’s budget.  This will only galvanise support for independence.

“Taking all spending and all revenue into account, figures for the latest year shows that Scotland is in a stronger financial position than the UK as a whole to the tune of £510 for every man, woman and child.

“The Tory Party refuses to learn from their mistakes and the people of Scotland will continue to reject their agenda of spending cuts at the ballot box.”

This startling admission comes not long after Ms Davidson’s conference speech, which managed to fill only two thirds of the conference hall, was described as ‘falling a bit flat’ just when the Tories in Scotland are looking for a way to revive interest here in Scotland in thwarting what they see as the ‘separatist’ agenda of the SNP.

Ms Davidson is also the driving force behind the Scottish Tory – led initiative ‘Friends of the Union’, which is an attempt to unite members of the three Unionist parties in a bid to stave off any possibility of the SNP achieving their independence goal.  This proposed ‘coalition’ has been welcomed by the SNP as a rich source of more support for Scottish independence.

Mr Gibson, commenting on the launch of Ms Davidson’s campaign said:

“The more the anti-independence campaign in Scotland is seen to be Tory-led, the stronger support for independence … The people of Scotland know far better than to be duped by a party that has continually failed this country, and been comprehensively rejected.”