Douglas Ross: We’re coming for you Angus

There’s been one story dominating the agenda this week, and that’s the calling of a snap general election for June 8.

And now the element of surprise has faded and the dust settled, people right across Scotland are realising this is a magnificent chance to send a strong message to the SNP that we do not want independence, and certainly don’t want another referendum to express that view.

That’s why I’ll be throwing my hat in the ring to stand in my home seat of Moray.

I’ve served as a councillor here, an MSP here, and now will be looking to be an MP too.

If successful, I’ll be standing against the incumbent and deputy leader of the SNP Angus Robertson.

And the message to him and the wider SNP movement is this; in Moray, we are coming for you.

Half of the constituency voted to leave the European Union in the summer, meaning 50% of voters have been completely neglected by the SNP in the months since.

They won’t have forgotten that, and will be looking to punish them at the ballot box.

And this will be mirrored right across Scotland where it will be a straight fight between the Scottish Conservatives and the SNP – a battle between togetherness and nationalism; and a choice between a party which wants to see Scotland as a successful, crucial part of the UK or a party which wants to tear us out.

It’s no wonder the SNP were the only party not to vote for the triggering of this election, it has much to lose.

There are two main priorities in June’s election.

One is to ensure we elect a prime minister in Theresa May who will get the right Brexit deal. That’s not just for the 50% in Moray who voted Leave, but for the many other Remain voters – and I include myself in that – who simply want to respect the democratic outcome and make a success of leaving the EU.

The other is to say no to what would be a divisive second independence referendum, causing uncertainty for businesses and workers right across the country.

We know that’s what the SNP wants to do, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – the other runner for prime minister – has already said he’s fine with the idea of a 2014 rerun, and we know how flaky Kezia Dugdale and Willie Rennie have been on the matter.

All this reinforces again how the Scottish Conservatives are far and away the only party who can be trusted on Scotland’s place in the UK.

Voters recognised that in huge numbers in last year’s Holyrood election, and will do so again for this Westminster ballot.

It was an election which saw the majority previously enjoyed in some areas whittled right down and, if that progress continues, it won’t be a good night for nationalists across the north of Scotland.

This election, while earlier than many anticipated, does not move the goalposts on a second independence referendum.

While constituencies right across the Highlands and the north-east sent a strong message to the SNP on Brexit, it sent an even stronger one two-and-a-half years ago on independence.

There is no good reason to put these voters through that again. Nicola Sturgeon herself said a second vote on separation would only take place when there was overwhelming public support for it.

And in addition, we simply cannot have a referendum on the break-up of Britain when the Brexit process hasn’t even played out, and certainly not when poll after poll has revealed the people of Scotland just don’t want one.

Instead, the priority should be electing the strong and stable leadership this United Kingdom needs.

I’m right up for that fight.

Police Scotland has a very real problem with transparency and accountability.

One of the reasons for the creation of the single force was it would improve efficiency, and make for a more modern, approachable and open organisation.

However, it seems it’s now being more secretive than ever.

At Holyrood’s public audit committee, even Alex Neil – who was an SNP minister at the time of Police Scotland’s establishment – compared the behaviour of the Scottish Police Authority to that of the Kremlin.

And it was reported this week that a former SPA member resigned because Scottish Government ministers were interfering with board agendas and, in some cases, insisting sensitive items were removed altogether.

If true, that is an absolute disgrace, and points to an SNP government which thinks it has carte blanche to meddle in the affairs of the police and other public sector organisations.

It all contributes to a dearth of trust in the police from the public.

How are people meant to have faith in a police force which is so vulnerable to political interference?

Police Scotland has enough to cope with, including tight budgets and evolving crime patterns.

That’s why the Scottish Government should stop worrying about negative headlines, and start giving officers the tools to do the job properly.

With all this talk of elections, both locally and nationally, most politicians would be forgiven for using their weekends to seek a bit of relaxation.

I might be tempted by that too, but instead I’ll be heading to Glasgow on Sunday to run the line in the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic.

When I started refereeing I thought New Elgin v Bishopmill in the North Region Juniors was a fiery fixture.

But the Old Firm is watched by a global audience and, add into the mix it’s a semi-final at Hampden, there’s a lot at stake.

As I continue to knock on doors and campaign in these elections politics often comes second to people asking about recent football matches.

In the last few weeks I’ve officiated Holland in a World Cup qualifier, this will be my third Old Firm match this season and I recently refereed Wick v Rothes in the Highland League.

So hopefully something for everyone in that list of fixtures to discuss.

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