David Mundell — 2011 Speech at Scottish Conservative Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by David Mundell at the 2011 Scottish Conservative Party Conference on 2nd October 2011.

Scottish Politics is never dull, Scottish Conservative politics particularly.

It’s been a busy year already with a parliamentary election and a referendum 2011. I want to thank all our candidates and activists across Scotland for their hard work in May.

Before I speak about the future of our party and the challenges the Coalition Government faces in Scotland, I also want to pay tribute to our outgoing leader, Annabel Goldie.

Its may be trite to say but it is true – Annabel Goldie is not just one of the best known but best loved figures in Scottish politics with a long and distinguished service to the voluntary party.

Annabel was elected to the Scottish parliament in 1999.

She became leader of the MSP group in 2005.

Her skirmishes with Alex Salmond at the First Ministers Questions have become a feature of the Scottish political scene.

During the last Scottish Parliament Annabel was acknowledged as the only leader to hold Mr Salmond to account and to be willing to take tough decisions and tell people like it is.

Well-respected across the political spectrum in Scotland, Annabel has become a national figure and her wit and good sense more widely known through her many appearances on Question Time and Any Questions.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I know you will all join me in wishing her well in the future, but also in sharing my hope that she still has much to give to our party and to public service.

Of course, the future of the Conservative party in Scotland, which Annabel has been so proud to represent, is going to be debated at an event at this conference and indeed the length and breadth of Scotland at leadership hustings.

The contest to date can, I think, be rightly characterised as being about change.

I don’t think anyone within or outside our party in Scotland would disagree with the statement that the party must change, and in particular, we must attract more, and younger people to vote for us across Scotland as a whole.

We must be clearly identifiable as the first choice for those want to vote for a sensible centre right party of the sort that exists (and commands support in) virtually every other European country.

And in so doing, we must be able to demonstrate that we are relevant and make a difference to the lives of people in Scotland if they vote for us at Council, Scottish Parliament, Westminster and European Elections.

That is why I want to see the leadership election underway focus on policy, leadership qualities and on the campaigning style our party will have in Scotland to take us forward.

As our only Member of Parliament in Scotland, I have clearly set out my own personal views this morning.

But of course it will be for members in Scotland to decide.

But during the period of this leadership election, we must continue to focus on the issues which really matter to real people; the economy, growth and jobs remain the government’s top priorities.

The difficult financial decisions we have been forced to make have brought confidence and stability to the UK economy: record low-interest rates for our borrowing, our triple A credit rating assured and, in the first six months of this year, the UK economy growing at a faster rate than America’s.

And we are taking action to promote growth: not least by cutting corporation tax to 26% this year, and 23% by 2014, making it the lowest rate in the G7, the fifth lowest in the G20.

We’ve singled out corporation tax because we know it is the most growth inhibiting tax that there is.

Alex Salmond says he would cut it too, but the facts speak for themselves.

He already has power over business rates and yet he is increasing them by £850m by 2015, undermining the very support we are providing businesses through our cuts in corporation tax.

Alex Salmond’s “Big Plan McB” is political junkfood.

When it comes to getting the economy moving, the only B we should be interested in is Business – helping it, promoting it.

In Scotland there are positive signs, with unemployment below the national average and falling last month.

And in the Scotland Office we are doing our bit to get Scottish enterprise motoring.

Not only are we proceeding with the Scotland Bill and its significant transfer of financial powers, we have set up a Trade and Economic Growth Board, made up of leading Scottish business figures, to advise on global opportunities and to act as ambassadors for the Scottish business community to make clear that Scotland is open for business.

Now if you listen to Alex Salmond you’ll hear him take the credit for any good economic news, and pass the blame to Westminster for any bad news.

When the sun comes out it is thanks to the SNP and is a boost to the case for independence and when it starts to rain it’s all the fault of the London-based parties.

Conference, people are seeing through this.

Just because the Scottish people rejected Iain Gray and Scottish Labour in May does not mean they voted for independence.

And just as the Scottish people rejected AV overwhelmingly, when the time comes I believe they will see through Alex Salmond’s narrow, nationalistic separatism.

However, we mustn’t be complacent. I welcome the Prime Minister’s reaffirmation this weekend of his commitment to keep Scotland in Britain.

Nothing must get in the way of that and it must be the priority in months ahead for the Scottish Conservative & Unionist party.

Thank you.