The SNP Government will be remembered for “broken promises” rather than any positive changes in Scotland, Douglas Ross has said.
The Scottish Conservative leader cited pledges on education, health and council tax that he argued have not been met, suggesting that is what Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon’s legacy in government will be.
After former Scottish Labour first minister Jack McConnell said his government’s defining policy was the smoking ban, Mr Ross suggested the SNP’s legacy would be unfulfilled pledges.
Speaking on a virtual media call, he said: “I think what they’ll be remembered for is promises made, that have never been delivered.
“Promises to make education their number one priority, which they didn’t; promises to build new ferries that have never got into the water; promises to reform council tax over successive elections, which they’ve never done; promises to invest in the NHS, and then built hospitals that can’t take any patients.
“I think people will look at the last 14 years of failure and look at all the bold promises that they heard from the SNP – and they continue to hear from the SNP at this election – and then look at what they actually delivered, and it was very little.”
Asked whether there are any positives from the SNP’s time in office, Mr Ross praised many of the “absolutely correct decisions” the Scottish Government has taken during the coronavirus crisis to protect people and ensure the NHS had sufficient capacity.
Mr Ross also warned of the “nightmarish” prospect of an SNP government being backed by Mr Salmond’s “flag-waving ultra-nationalists” Alba Party after the Holyrood election.
Despite Ms Sturgeon’s outright denial that her party would work with that of her predecessor, Mr Ross suggested Alba would push independence to the top of the SNP’s agenda at the expense of Scotland’s recovery from coronavirus.
As the Scottish Conservatives launched a postal vote campaign urging unionists to back them on the list ballot, Mr Ross said his aim is to “derail the nationalist juggernaut” through tactical voting so Holyrood can focus on the impact of the pandemic.
Writing in the Scotsman, Mr Ross said: “Once the votes are counted next month, we cannot discount the nightmarish prospect of awakening to an SNP government propped up by Salmond’s flag-waving ultra-nationalists or Patrick Harvie’s Green nationalists.
“Salmond would force independence to the top of the agenda – to the reckless detriment of our recovery from Covid. The issues that really matter to people would be sacrificed at the altar of nationalist obsession.
“Harvie is no better. His price for supporting Sturgeon – as I got him to admit during the TV debate – being the accelerated closure of Scotland’s oil and gas industry, with the devastating loss of 100,000 jobs”
When Ms Sturgeon has been asked about the prospect of a coalition after May’s vote, she has ruled out working with Alba but left open the prospect of a future deal with the Scottish Greens.
She said: “I am concentrating on fighting this election and winning as many seats as possible for the SNP. These are hypothetical questions until after the elections are over.
“We have worked with the Greens in Budget negotiations for the duration of the Parliament that has just passed, so I know we can work with the Greens on that kind of basis.
“There have been no discussions between the SNP and the Greens about anything more formal than that, and until the election is over that would remain a hypothetical issue.”
However she was clear: “I am ruling out having any kind of arrangement with Alex Salmond or with Alba.”
Challenged about his “flag-waving” comments, given the Conservative UK Government’s recent focus on the union flag, Mr Ross explained: “I think there is a difference between what the Alba Party have been using in the material for this election and the choice of it, some of the footage and the narrative they’re putting their videos, in comparison to UK Government ministers who, when they appear on television, have a Union Jack behind them.
“In the same way the First Minister, when she sometimes speaks from Bute House, has this altar reminder.
“Those are quite different principles to nationalists waving the flag thinking that they own the Saltire and it helps them to garner votes for those who wish to separate Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom.”
SNP depute leader Keith Brown responded: “The Tories have absolutely nothing to offer at this election, and it shows.
“The reality is that the SNP has an excellent record of delivery in government. We have the best funded and best performing NHS in the UK, we have introduced ‘game-changing’ welfare policies, including the Scottish Child Payment, we have world-leading climate change targets – and we have ensured there are now more GPs, teachers and police officers in post.
“This election comes down to a choice of re-electing Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister by giving both votes to the SNP or leaving Scotland’s future in the hands of Boris Johnson.”