With three weeks to go until the ballots are cast in the Scottish Parliament election Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson joined Uddingston and Bellshill candidate Andy Morrison on the campaign trail in Bothwell yesterday (Thursday).
Ms Davidson believes her party can achieve a record result on May 5 and with her installed as leader of the opposition will hold a SNP Scottish Government to account.
She said: “There is three weeks to go until the election takes place, so it is an exciting time.
“I quite enjoy a campaign trail, I love getting round the country and talking to people and listening to their concerns.
“There is lots in Scotland that is brilliant, but there are also loads of things we can do better.
“One of the specific jobs we can do as a party is be the kind of strong opposition that ensures we have a Scottish Government who works harder for communities right across Scotland.
“In the last nine years the Scottish Government has not been under kind of scrutiny we need and without proper scrutiny and having to explain their decision to the people of Scotland they will just do what they want.
“During the last Parliament we’ve had laws introduced that don’t work like the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act and misguided legislation like Named Persons, so the SNP should be challenged more to ensure they do their job better.”
“A year ago I said to all my candidates across Scotland that I wanted the best result we’d ever had in the Scottish Parliament election and the polls have us heading to a record total.
“I genuinely ask Times & Speaker readers to look at us as an option to hold Nicola Sturgeon to account, because a Labour party coming back with the same faces, especially if there are less of them, is not going to do any better than they have for the last nine years.”
Ms Davidson is adamant there should not be a second referendum on Scottish independence as there is more important work the Scottish Government should be concentrating on.
She said: “We can say no second referendum for Scotland and have them concentrate of things that matter like schools, hospitals, and a single police force that isn’t working as well as we hoped.
“It was right we had a big long discussion about independence and that everyone’s voice was heard, but everyone’s voice was heard when they cast their ballot.
“Now we have Nicola Sturgeon saying she’ll start a new campaign for independence in the summer, the SNP seem to view the no vote as just a bump in the road, and I believe that isn’t respecting the result and the decision we made as a country.”
Ms Davidson defended her manifesto pledge to reintroduce prescription fees, which has been heavily criticised by the SNP, claiming it will raise millions for the NHS.
She said: “In the same way as it was before we’d ensure prescriptions were free for pensioners, young people, students, pregnant women and people with long term conditions
“When we got rid of the prescription charge only about 10 per cent were paid for by people like the First Minister who earns a good wage and we don’t think it is right that people who earn what politicians earn should get free paracetamol when we have people on cancer wards who can’t get the drugs they need because they are too expensive.
“We know the NHS spends £10 million a year on paracetamol prescriptions and introducing prescription charges for those who can pay would bring in £65 million which we can spend on the kind of drugs we need in our hospitals which some patients with really serious and complex conditions currently can’t get access to.”
Ms Davidson says she has found June’s referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU is playing no part in the current campaign.
She said: ““The issue of Europe hasn’t come up that much, I tend to get asked about it by journalists, but not really by people on the doorsteps.
“There are laws made in Europe, but people don’t see the links between the EU and their everyday lives in the same way they do with Holyrood.
“We have a very sophisticated electorate and they know in June they can make their decision on the EU, but just now they are voting for who is First Minister and who is leader of the opposition.”