Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson promised to work to build a “new Jerusalem” yesterday, as she called for a return to “proper, old-fashioned, blue-collar” Toryism.
She said she wanted the Conservatives to become the party of the “thinkers, dreamers, reformers and visionaries”.
Her speech came after Scottish secretary David Mundell hailed the Conservatives as the “party of devolution” in Scotland.
The “heart” of the devolution package, he said, was the transfer of income tax powers to Holyrood in the Scotland Bill, which would leave the SNP administration “nowhere to hide”.
Addressing a packed hall, Ms Davidson said: “Just as Labour need reminding that purity of thought is no substitute for power, so we must remind ourselves that power is nothing without purpose.
“I want… the zeal of the missionary, the courage of the pioneer, the ambition to lift our eyes to the horizon and say there’s a new Jerusalem we want to build and we will work towards it every day.
“It is proper, old-fashioned, blue-collar, Toryism.”
She said it was how she was raised and the reason she had “kept the faith” for half her life – from casting her first ballot in 1997 to witnessing a Conservative majority government 18 years on.
“We need to show these values in action every day,” she added.
“To let people – scanning that horizon – know that a new day is coming up once again. We need to build that city on the hill, build it for Scotland, for Britain – and for the future.”
The Glasgow MSP did not hold back in her criticism of Labour, insisting the party in Scotland made a “circular firing squad look competent”.
She also warned Scotland must never again come as close to “divorce” as it did in last year’s independence referendum.
Mr Mundell, who is the first Tory Scottish secretary for 18 years, warned the party could not be complacent about protecting the union.
He said the SNP’s success in turning 45% for Yes into 56 seats at the general election showed championing the UK had to be a “full-time job”.
“They told us before the referendum that the vote was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We didn’t realise they meant the lifetime of the infamous Scottish midge – or as some people call them, gnats,” he added.
He also insisted the benefits of UK membership had “only got clearer” since September last year.
“The SNP’s economic case for independence looked thin at the time, but it has been on a crash diet in the 12 months since,” he said.
“As part of the bigger economy of the UK, the shock of the oil price fall has been cushioned.
“Just as Scotland shared the rewards when the oil price was high, the rest of the UK shares the risk when the oil price falls low.
“We all know it would have been a different story if Scotland had been on its own.”
Criticising the SNP’s domestic record, he said real devolution meant “empowering local communities”, such as through the Aberdeen and Inverness City Deal proposals.