Ruth Davidson has made her pitch to be Scotland’s next first minister – pledging to bring about a “blue collar revolution” that would get the country “on the right track”.
Despite the next Holyrood elections being two years away in May 2021, the Scottish Tory leader said the choice voters would face then would be between another SNP government led by Nicola Sturgeon “banging on about independence” and a Conservative administration that would offer a “brighter horizon”.
Ms Davidson pledged a new approach to vocational education and plans to ensure teenagers stay in education until at least 18 – or otherwise take up a “structured apprenticeship” or training place if they want to go in work.
She also said the “greatest service we can do to our nation” would be “bringing down the curtain on 14 of SNP grudge and grievance”.
Closing the Scottish Conservative conference in Aberdeen, Ms Davidson said: “As first minister, I won’t use every engagement with the UK Government as a chance to sow division. I’ll use it as a chance to deliver better government for the people who live here.
“And I’ll make a firm guarantee now: If I am elected Scotland’s next first minister, there will be no more constitutional games and no more referenda. We’ve had enough to last a lifetime.”
The speech marked her return to frontline politics after going on maternity leave.
She told Tory party activists: “I’m back because I want to put Scotland’s constitutional division aside, to allow the country to come back together again.
“I want us to become the largest party in 2021 so we can see all the effort and hours and manpower the current nationalist administration puts into Indyref2 being put into improving our schools, growing our economy and supporting our services.
“I’m back because I want us to build a better Scotland – right here, right now.
“That election is still two years away but today it’s time we fire the starting gun on the campaign.”