By a Newsnet reporter
New Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has attacked what she called the “something for nothing society” and called for a smaller state sector and an increase in the private sector.
In a keynote speech in Glasgow today the former BBC Scotland reporter, who replaced Annabel Goldie as the Tory leader at Holyrood two months ago, claimed that Scots had lost their natural capacity for enterprise after decades of socialism.
Ms Davidson set out her vision and said: “Our purpose is to decisively shift the balance of power from the hands of politicians into the hands of people and local communities.”
She added: “All over Europe, economic chickens are coming home to roost.
“The dream of permanent growth and ever-increasing prosperity stands exposed as a collective delusion; a fantasy built on debt.
“Countries that have been living beyond their means, with unaffordable expenditure and cosseting of public sector workers, are being forced to relearn the harsh economic facts of life.”
The new Tory leader then claimed that Scots had to decide whether they wanted to become like Greece “spending other people’s money” or like Germany “where saving is a virtue and debt is shameful”.
Ms Davidson said that those able to work shouldn’t expect to be allowed to live off others without contributing. She also spoke of the “ingenuity and endurance” that saw Scots build “business empires” across the globe.
Echoing new Labour leader Johann Lamont she claimed that policies would change and that there would be no “no-go areas”.
Responding to the speech, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said that newly elected leader had her work cut out trying to relaunch a party he described as “beleaguered”.
Insisting the speech was no more than “a series of value statements” Mr Gibson questioned a recent Tory claim that they ended 2011 “on a high” when actually, said the SNP MSP, their popularity was falling.
Mr Gibson cited the Scottish sub-sample of a December ICM/Guardian poll on Westminster voting intention showing the Conservatives on 15%, a drop of 1.7% since the last UK elections.
Commenting, the SNP MSP for Cunninghame North said:
“Ruth Davidson has her work cut out and a vague series of statements on what Tories stand for is unlikely to cut it.
“The Scottish Tories may claim to have ended 2011 on a high, but this is a highly selective case. The most recent Scottish sub-sample from the ICM poll shows them on just 15%, which means they’ve fallen back further than even their dismal performance in the UK general election in 2010 which saw just one Tory MP elected.
“At the elections in May, Ruth Davidson came a distant fourth in the seat she contested and her deputy Jackson Carlaw failed to gain the Tories top target seat.
“Perhaps it’s time the Tories stopped making laughable claims and issuing vague statements on values and instead took the advice of the erstwhile leadership contender Murdo Fraser and disbanded the party altogether.”
A recent report on economic analysis by the Financial Times showed Scotland is the most prosperous part of the UK outside London and the wealthy south east of England in terms of per capita economic output. At 99 per cent of the UK average Scotland outstripped Wales, Northern Ireland and every other area of England.
Mr Gibson added:
“While the SNP has been working for the people of Scotland, Ruth Davidson has been desperately trying to justify the damaging actions of the UK government led by her boss David Cameron.
“That’s why in the last full Scottish poll of Holyrood voting intentions carried out by Ipsos Mori, the Tories had crashed to just 12% while the SNP improved on the support we received at the Scottish elections to gather the support of 51% of Scots.
“Far from ending 2011 on a high the Tories, under Ruth Davidson, are now facing oblivion.”