Scotland has been “gripped by the dead hand of nationalism” for the last 15 years, Douglas Ross has claimed, with the country having become “more bitter and inward-facing”.
The Scottish Conservative leader will make the assertion in a speech to his party’s conference on Saturday.
And Ross will pledge to end the “referendum obsession” in Scotland, as he seeks to challenge the SNP.
But the SNP said that most people “won’t recognise” the description of Scotland painted by Ross.
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 independence to be held.
“Scotland has been gripped by the dead hand of nationalism for the last 15 years,” Ross will say in his speech.
“And look what it has done to us. We have become divided against ourselves. 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 children grow up in today is far more bitter and inward-facing. That isn’t a record that any government should be proud of.”
The Scottish Conservative leader hit out at the SNP as he said that they “won’t take any responsibility”.
“Scotland is becoming a smaller country every day that the SNP remain in power,” Ross will say.
“We are becoming worse off, both economically and intellectually, because we are stuck with a government that won’t take any responsibility.
“Our party must bring together the silent majority of working people to end this stalemate.”
Ross will outline his party’s credentials as a “real alternative” to the SNP at Holyrood.
He will add: “We are building Scotland’s real alternative for people who are fed up with the last 15 years of SNP stagnation.
“A real alternative that will end the referendum obsession and allow us all to move on.
“A real alternative, that because of our values and because we are Scotland’s largest opposition party, only the Scottish Conservatives can build.
“A real alternative to take back Scotland from the SNP and allow us all to move forward together.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, however, suggested the Scottish Conservatives are the SNP’s “biggest asset”.
And he insisted that Ross’ party “aren’t strong enough” to stand up to the SNP.
“It is shameless hypocrisy for Douglas Ross to condemn the division that he and his party have spent years stoking,” he said.
“The Tories aren’t the alternative to the SNP – they are their biggest asset.
“Their government are failing communities across Scotland and the UK, and putting the very future of the country at stake.
“The Tories aren’t good enough to lead the UK and they aren’t strong enough to stand up to the SNP.”
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.
“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.”
Gibson added: “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.”
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