The speech made by Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, in Manchester on 1 October 2023.
Thank you, Conference.
It is fantastic to speak to this gathering of the Conservative AND Unionist Party.
We in this hall are all Unionists by definition.
It is in our party’s DNA.
To be a Conservative is to be a Unionist.
Unlike our opponents, Conservatives don’t apologise for being British, we embrace it.
We celebrate our common history and heritage and look forward to the shared future that Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to build together.
Conference, I know that Rishi Sunak and this UK Conservative and Unionist Government are taking the long-term decisions to build a brighter future for Scotland and the whole of the United Kingdom.
I was with our Prime Minister in Aberdeenshire in the summer – when he announced over 100 new oil and gas licences in the North Sea.
And gave the go-ahead to a new carbon capture cluster facility in Peterhead.
These announcements will strengthen energy security for the whole of the UK.
But they will also secure tens of thousands of skilled Scottish jobs.
Jobs that Labour and the SNP would put on the scrapheap as soon as possible to appease green extremists like Just Stop Oil.
Well, the last thing that Scotland needs is a Miliband millstone round our neck.
This Conservative and Unionist Party will never abandon North Sea workers, like Keir Starmer would.
We are now the only party you can trust to stand up for Scotland’s oil.
And these announcements are just one part of what the Conservatives are delivering for Scotland.
From freeports to spaceports, roads to ferries, supercomputers to agriculture technology.
We are investing in projects that will drive growth across our whole country, secure and create Scottish jobs and businesses and strengthen the essential contribution Scotland makes to our United Kingdom.
Well conference, it has been a pretty interesting year in Scottish politics.
I have more than a few things to update you on since we last met.
In fact, I am struggling on where to begin….
Well Nicola Sturgeon is gone.
Can I repeat that for those at the back – Nicola Sturgeon is gone.
For years we were told that she was unstoppable.
That she could, apparently, do no wrong.
How many times did the media proclaim that Scotland was on the cusp of independence under her leadership?
Or that she would wipe out the Tories.
Well, I can proudly say that her career lies in tatters, and we – conference – are still here.
It was our party – the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party – that was the constant thorn in her side.
We stopped the SNP from winning a majority in election after election.
We fought her dangerous gender reform bill – which, let’s not forget conference, was backed at each stage by Labour.
And we stood up to Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for a second independence referendum every step of the way.
Now, since she left, the SNP have been having some difficulties.
A police investigation into party finances.
The luxury campervan seized.
And Humza Yousaf as leader.
The best the SNP now have to offer is a poor Nicola Sturgeon tribute act.
But we cannot be complacent.
His government are already spending millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on promoting independence.
And Humza Yousaf is treating next year’s election as a proxy referendum.
Nicola Sturgeon may have quit but the SNP haven’t gone away.
They are down but far from out.
They are just as dangerous to the future of our country as they have ever been.
We still need to fight for every vote, to win as many seats as possible.
Because next year we can deal a fatal blow to the campaign for independence.
We can ensure the nationalists fall short again and put Humza Yousaf’s Government on notice.
And in so many seats only the Scottish Conservatives can beat the SNP.
Conference, this Conservative UK Government delivers for Scotland.
And on energy, financial services, food & drink, tourism and so much more Scotland delivers for the whole of the UK.
If we remove the SNP, if we can kick them out of power in every part of our nation, Scotland can finally move on from the independence neverendum
And we can build a stronger, more prosperous United Kingdom together.
Now to speak more on strengthening our country, let’s welcome to the stage the man who puts Scotland at the heart of the UK Government.
The scourge of SNP globetrotting.
The binman for the Greens’ recycling scheme.
The defender of women’s rights.
My friend, our Scottish Secretary, Alister Jack.