The “silent majority” that voted No in the 2014 independence referendum need to “take back Scotland from the SNP”, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said on Saturday.
Speaking at the party’s conference in Aberdeen, Ross said the country had become more “bitter and inward-looking” since the SNP came to power in 2007.
He said: “Can anyone say the Scotland of 2022 is a better place than the Scotland of 2007? The nation I grew up in was confident and outward-looking.
“Yet the nation my kids grow up in today is bitter and inward-facing.”
He continued: “We have become worse off, both economically and intellectually, because we are stuck with a government that won’t take any responsibility, that say that none of this is their fault.
“Whose answer is always the same: Westminster, Westminster, Westminster.
“We know there is a majority out there to take us forward. The same silent majority that said ‘No’ to Nicola Sturgeon in 2014.
“And our goal must be to bring that majority together again to break this deadlock.”
On Friday, Boris Johnson was in attendance and gave a speech at the conference, whilst Chancellor Rishi Sunak spoke virtually.
The Prime Minister praised the Scottish Conservative leader, as well as insisting that it is ‘not the time’ for another vote on Scottish independence to be held.
Earlier this month, Ross withdrew his letter looking to trigger a no confidence vote in Johnson.
Ross had said the Prime Minister’s position was “no longer tenable” after it was revealed that Johnson attended a gathering at Downing Street in May, 2020, during the first coronavirus lockdown.
Meanwhile, Ross also used his speech to outline the party’s credentials as a “real alternative” at Holyrood, while accusing the SNP of pursuing “pet priorities” rather than rebuilding after the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “The party that used to say it’s Scotland’s oil – now they want to shut it down.
“What a shocking U-turn from a party that pretends to represent this great city, pretends to stand up for Aberdeen and the north-east.
“And at this time of Russian aggression, it is naive and reckless.”
SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson hit back at Ross and criticised the Scottish Conservative leader for withdrawing his call for Boris Johnson to resign as Prime Minister.
“After losing his voice, people will be wishing Douglas Ross would stay silent for a while longer,” said Gibson in a reference to the Scottish Tory leader missing First Minister’s Questions on Thursday due to a sore throat.
He added: “Most people won’t recognise the country they call home in the bitter, small-minded description of Scotland that he paints.
“The reality is that his craven climb-down over his call on Boris Johnson to quit has left him a lame-duck leader with zero credibility, even among his own party.
“Less than a year ago the people of this country utterly rejected the Scottish Tories at the ballot box, and returned the SNP to government with a cast-iron mandate to hold an independence referendum.
“The Tories’ bid to defy democracy is simply untenable, and they know it – which is why they are so busy in the background making plans on how to contest an independence referendum.”
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “The Tories are a gift for an SNP that is failing Scotland.
“Douglas Ross has been humiliated with an abridged speech to a half empty hall, while the grandees of the Conservative Party have a beach party in Blackpool without him.
“The landscape of Scottish politics has changed. The Tories are collapsing in the polls and Scottish Labour are clearly ahead.
“On the 5th May, vote Scottish Labour and let’s build the future together.”