New Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has proposed upgrading the M8 motorway between Glasgow and Edinburgh to three lanes.
Ross made the call as he laid out proposals he said would “power up Scotland” after coronavirus and the lockdown pushed the country into recession.
He wants to see the introduction of new sector-specific job security councils, based on a similar scheme in Sweden to help workers who have been laid off find new work.
The Scottish Tories are also calling for a town centre rescue plan to help small local shops, and a “Scotland First” procurement strategy, which they say would see the Scottish Government spend more money locally.
But Ross, who accused the SNP of “letting down” businesses and the economy, was unable to say how much the proposals would cost, or how many jobs they would either create or safeguard.
‘These are proposals both short term and long term I think we can have to secure jobs and get people back into employment.’Douglas Ross, Scottish Conservative Leader
He told the PA news agency: “These are proposals both short term and long term I think we can have to secure jobs and get people back into employment.
“It is a series of measures I think both in the short term could immediately be activated and longer term worked towards to get the economy going again during this recession and as we come out of this pandemic at the other side.”
The Conservatives’ new Power Up Scotland plan goes on to propose a hardship fund be set up, for businesses that have to deal with more localised lockdowns.
It also proposes a fully integrated transport system, with an Oyster card-like payment method that would work across all public transport networks, as well as faster rail links between cities.
Ross will not be in Holyrood when Nicola Sturgeon unveils her latest legislative programme – with former Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson taking responsibility for questioning the First Minister.
Instead the new leader said he would be at Westminster “standing up for our fishing communities as we leave the European Union”.
Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy at the Scottish Retail Consortium, said about the proposals: “This is a detailed paper with a number of measures which deserves detailed consideration.”
Meanwhile Andrew McRae, of the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland, said: “This new publication talks to many of the chronic problems that Scottish smaller firms face.”
But the SNP said the Scotland First procurement policy was not compatible with the Westminster Tory Government’s plan for an internal market between the four nations of the UK post Brexit.
‘Douglas Ross’s plans have been shown to be utterly hollow in the middle and to fall foul of his own party’s so-called ‘UK internal market’ plans, which he supports.’Keith Brown, SNP Depute Leader
SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: “Douglas Ross’s plans have been shown to be utterly hollow in the middle and to fall foul of his own party’s so-called ‘UK internal market’ plans, which he supports.”
He added: “This is typical of the Tories who are more interested in sound-bites than coherent policy proposals, and constantly put the survival of their own party over the survival of Scotland’s economy, jobs and livelihoods.
“The First Minister’s Programme for Government will deliver progressive policies focused on dealing with the economic, health, and social crisis caused by coronavirus.”