News from Scotland, brought to you by Cllr. Meghan Gallacher.
By: Meghan Gallacher
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At the beginning of the month, Conservative members from across Scotland
gathered in Aberdeen for our annual conference. This was our second attempt to
hold such an event on the East Coast due to the adverse weather conditions which
caused chaos throughout our United Kingdom last year.
Despite the challenging political climate, there was a real buzz about our conference.
The Boss was back and ready to take the fight to the Nationalists.
Whilst Ruth was on maternity leave, our Deputy Leader, Jackson Carlaw, rose to the
challenge of Scottish Conservative Party Leader, and we have a lot to thank him for.
Not only did he manage to keep the ship steady, he also confronted Nicola Sturgeon
- on a weekly basis during First Ministers Questions - on her Scottish Government’s
dismal record on the economy, education, health and our justice system. He also
ensured that Scottish Labour remained where they belong, polling in third place.
With Ruth now being back at the helm, this meant steering our attention towards the
Scottish Parliamentary Election in 2021. It’s no secret that during the 2016 election,
our Party campaigned to be the official opposition to the SNP in Holyrood. It was an
unusual campaign, but we were able to send a message to the Nationalists that the
Scottish Conservatives stood up for hard working Scots and our place in the United
Kingdom. But we now have a new challenge. We can’t repeat the same campaign in
2021. We need to show voters that we can govern, and that Ruth should be the next
First Minister of Scotland. To do this, we also need to address the constitutional
issues dominating British politics.
The message from our conference was “Scotland Together”. This meant no more
divisions and no more referendums. Afterall, we have had our fair share of elections
and referendums and I’m not surprised that many Scots are tired. That’s why during
Ruth’s conference speech, she laid out an alternative vision, one that sees policy
take precedent over the constitution, where education and health is more important
than discussing hypothetical currencies in an independent Scotland. It was a breath
of fresh air.
The EU election was England and Wales first real taste of a divisive referendum.
Unfortunately for Scots, we have already experienced relationship breakdowns
between family and friends, abuse and smear campaigns. In fact, we are still
recovering from the Scottish Independence referendum which took place in 2014.
Brexit, therefore, cannot continue to dictate the narrative of our wider Party. We must
get over this hurdle and heal divisions between our “Brexiteers” and our
“Remainers”. Otherwise, we are no better than the SNP trying to divide our great
Preserving the 300-year-old relationship will always be a priority for a Scottish
Conservative. However, when it comes to the European Union, the United Kingdom
once thrived without it, and we will do the same again.