Ruth Davidson MSP

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Ruth Davidson MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
2. Ruth Davidson (Glasgow) (Con)

To ask the First Minister when she will next meet the Secretary of State for Scotland. (S4F-02394)



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Ruth Davidson

Earlier this month, a judge in Glasgow’s High Court found Ross Wright guilty of rape. In an incredibly brave move, the woman he had attacked—Erin O’Neill—decided to tell her story. She revealed how she discovered only after the court case had finished that Wright had been released early from prison following a previous violent assault. He had served only half his sentence. Erin told the Daily Record newspaper:

“Wright should have been behind bars. But he was allowed loose on the streets to rape me.”

Ross Wright was freed because of the absurd rule of automatic early release. We have been calling for that law to be scrapped for a number of years. The Scottish Government has now published plans to address that, but they will cover only a derisory number of cases. Does the First Minister not see that those plans are utterly inadequate?



Meeting of the Parliament 20 November 2014 : Thursday, November 20, 2014
Ruth Davidson

The First Minister knows that I am on record as saying that the United Kingdom Government was wrong to introduce automatic early release and that the Scottish Government is wrong not to abolish it entirely.

I have the Scottish Government’s bill here. The plans that are contained in it barely scratch the surface of what we are talking about. In fact, new figures from the Scottish Parliament information centre show that, last year, the plans contained in the bill would have applied to just 107 sexual offenders and 24 other violent criminals. That adds up to 131 offenders out of a total of more than 14,000 criminals who were sent to jail last year, which is less than 1 per cent.

The Government has argued previously that ending automatic early release is a resource problem. This is not a resource issue: it is a moral issue. Criminals need to know that, unless there is an exceptional reason not to, they will serve the sentence that the judge hands down.

In her admirable speech yesterday, the First Minister said that, where there was common ground, she would be

“a willing and listening ally.”—[Official Report, 19 November 2014; c 36.]

Today, she said that she is open minded on how to make things better. If she thinks that there is common ground between us, can we work together to end this scandal for good?



Meeting of the Parliament 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Ruth Davidson (Glasgow) (Con)

I stand today as others have done before me—Alex Salmond, Robin Harper, John Swinney, Dennis Canavan and half a dozen others besides—knowing that I do not lead the largest party in the Parliament and realistic about my prospects of becoming First Minister, at least for now.

However, I stand for an important reason. But one issue has dominated the political landscape for the entirety of this session of Parliament, and the Deputy First Minister, who is seeking to ascend one rung, finds herself on the opposite side of the issue from the majority of people in this country. So today, I offer an alternative, as someone who wants Scotland to prosper as part of our United Kingdom, not outside it, and as a member of this Parliament who wants it to work better, using the powers that it has to improve public life in Scotland, and the powers that are coming to limit the financial burden on families across our country.

I want both Scotland’s Governments to work together for the betterment of all our people. I do not want false grievance to be held up in order to pit one against the other—Holyrood against Westminster. My stated aim is to develop devolution, not to end it—to use this devolved Parliament to serve the people and empower them, and to loosen the constraints of the state, pushing power into communities and increasing freedom and choice.

I want parents to be free to raise their children without a state-appointed guardian being imposed on them. I want tenants to be free to buy their council house and pass that asset on to their children. There should be greater economic freedom, with more of the money that is earned staying in the pockets of those who earned it. There should be freedom for football fans to be subject to the same laws as everybody else. There should be freedom for parents to pick a school for their child and to have different types of schools from which to choose; and freedom to break the council monopoly that says that there is only one way to teach and one way to learn—there is not, and Scotland can learn from countries where that freedom of choice has driven up standards for future generations.

Reform of our public services to make them more effective and responsive to people’s needs is long overdue in Scotland. It is a debate that has been ducked for 15 years, but it is a conversation that we need to start having right now; failing to do so is hitting those who rely on such services hardest, and it is a dereliction of our duty as parliamentarians.

Freedom, yes, but there are responsibilities, too, and choices to be made. The way in which the single police force is being rolled out urgently needs to be reviewed. Simply stamping the rest of the country with the Strathclyde mould and expecting it to fit is not working. Local communities need to feel that they have got their community police force back.

The messy web of justice policy needs to be untangled. Asking members to vote down corroboration without knowing what its replacement would be was an act of either desperation or hubris—I cannot work out which. We need to start from first principles: how do we better secure justice for our victims and fairness for the accused? We need a wholesale review of the law of evidence.

Our national health service must stop having sticking-plaster fixes. I have more cause than most in this chamber to thank our NHS, which saved not only my life but my legs. I have always been happy to pay a contribution towards my prescriptions, as were the vast majority of people who were asked to do so. Extending free prescriptions to those who could afford to pay takes £60 million out of the NHS budget each year. Free stuff is nice. Free stuff is easy. However, I think that £60 million would be better spent funding 1,000 extra nurses and midwives for our hospitals.

I stand here today knowing that I will likely lose, but I stand to offer a different vision of Scotland: a Scotland where we value our vocational education as highly as our academic education; a Scotland where we do not decimate our college places for the shibboleth of no university contribution; a Scotland that recognises that children learn differently and should have the opportunity to be taught differently, with choice driving up standards; a Scotland where local police, local services and local colleges answer to the communities that they serve, rather than to a central Government hell-bent on pulling all power to Holyrood; a Scotland that acknowledges that there is no such thing as Government money, only the money that Governments take from the working men and women of this country—and we resolve to ensure that they keep more of it; and a Scotland where Government is there to help, not to hector.

I stand to offer that vision of Scotland and I promise that, whether elected to the office of First Minister or—more likely—not, I will work with anyone who will help achieve it.



Meeting of the Parliament 19 November 2014 : Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Ruth Davidson

After a hard-fought contest for the position of First Minister, in the end my opponent just shaded it. I promise that I will not demand a recount.

Today, the Parliament has elected Nicola Sturgeon as the First Minister of Scotland. On behalf of myself and my party, I offer her our warmest congratulations. When she knocked on her first door in her home constituency of Cunninghame South during the 1987 general election, there was no Scottish Parliament, no devolved Government and no post of First Minister. She could have had no idea, when she chapped that door, that she was setting out on a path that would lead more than a quarter of a century later to that high office and Bute house.

Nicola Sturgeon’s completion of that journey is a great personal achievement, and it is an accomplishment to secure office as Scotland’s first woman First Minister. As women around the world seek equality and equity where there currently is none, I am personally delighted that they will look to Scotland and see another woman having fought her way, on merit, to the top—women are not just leading the Government but chairing the Parliament.

Of course, the Conservatives led the way in giving the country its first female leader, who was Prime Minister between 1979 and 1990. I know that Nicola Sturgeon has always seen that Prime Minister as a personal role model who has inspired her in everything that she has done. I look forward to seeing whether the First Minister can find within her the iron resolve that marks out all true leaders, whether they are male or female.

With an apprenticeship of 10 years as deputy party leader and seven as the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon is eminently qualified. If I may offer a personal opinion, she is in many ways a more skilful politician than her immediate predecessor—she has been deployed more than once as a velvet glove to a clunking fist.

There are a number of positives to welcome today, and welcome them I do. However, Scotland needs not just a new First Minister but a change of direction. Above all, after two years that have been consumed by the single issue of Scotland’s constitutional future, it is time to get back to the practical, day-to-day issues that concern Scottish families the most—issues such as jobs, opportunity, taxes and the efficient delivery of public services. Such issues have been an accompaniment for most of the parliamentary session, and we must move them back to where they belong: front and centre in all our priorities.

The Scottish Conservatives are clear about the reforms that are needed to make Scotland better. We need greater choice and diversity in our education system, to drive up standards. We need to lower the tax burden on ordinary Scots. We need policies to promote personal responsibility and we need to provide a ladder of aspiration for disadvantaged families.

Those are the Scottish Conservatives’ priorities; the new First Minister will have her own. It is inevitable that many things will divide us, and Conservative members will hold the First Minister and her Government to account for their actions and policies. It is healthy and necessary for Scotland’s democracy that we do so.

We will not oppose for the sake of opposition. We will make common cause with the new First Minister where agreement can be found, to make Scotland better. I believe that both our Governments in this country—in Holyrood and at Westminster—are working to better the nation. People at home demand no less.

We have been through a period in our history when, perhaps understandably, the divisions between the two sides in the referendum debate have been inflamed and sometimes distorted. Too often, not just policies and views but motives and character have been questioned. I hope that the election of a new First Minister of Scotland will act as a brake on that dismal political dead end. I hope that the politics of division will pass and that the politics of debate and discourse, and pragmatism and respect, will win out.

We can still disagree. I know the new First Minister, and we both know that the rocks will melt in the sun before we stop disagreeing. However, I hope that we can do that with mutual respect and mutual acknowledgement that all of us—Conservative, Liberal, Labour and SNP—seek to make Scotland a better place.

In that spirit, I take the opportunity to congratulate Nicola Sturgeon on her appointment. I wish her well in the task that awaits.

15:16  

Meeting of the Parliament 18 November 2014 : Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Ruth Davidson (Glasgow) (Con)

I add to those of my party my best wishes to the First Minister as he leaves office today. It is traditional at this point to add a few words about how enjoyable retirement is and how pleasant the golf course looks, but seeing that there seems to be absolutely no chance that Alex Salmond is going to retire, I will leave that to one side, for the moment.

It is said that all political careers end in failure—that is, except for Alex Salmond’s. He is the archetypal Teflon don whose career does not appear ever to actually finish. Claims about leading the SNP to 20 seats in 2010—actually, they saw a drop from seven MPs to six—and boasts about taking Glasgow City Council in 2012 and claiming 3 MEPs in the summer of 2014 all died at the ballot box, but still the juggernaut rumbled on.

He is a political Lazarus, railing against a Westminster elite that he has been part of not once, but twice, and to which he could after May return for a third time. No doubt Nicola Sturgeon does not want a back-seat driver directing traffic from the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee here in Holyrood.

However, regardless of whether this is an end or merely a brief pit stop before Mr Salmond’s next lap of the political track, let me today pay tribute to, and pass comment on, the First Minister’s period in office. Let me start by touching on where I began, because if there is one thing that we can all recognise that distinguishes Mr Salmond from many of his contemporaries, it is that quite remarkable longevity. When I was elected Conservative Party leader, he kindly called me to offer his congratulations and quickly said “Excuse me for asking, but how old are you?” When I answered, he quite wistfully replied, “Ah. I was 35 when I first led my party.” What a contribution he has made to that party. To many people for many years he simply was the SNP.

The pressures of leadership are immense. To have served for two decades at the helm and for more than seven years as First Minister is a feat of enormous stamina, willpower and discipline. There are, I believe, very few people who would be capable of it. What has also distinguished him has been the way that he has stuck to his course for all that time. To read Mr Salmond’s maiden speech to the House of Commons in 1987 is to look back to a different era, but there he is, as if it were yesterday—moaning about the Scottish Tories, aiming a low blow at the Labour Party for failing to take us on and banging on about the constitution. If he sometimes appears like a stuck record the truth is that it is because Alex Salmond has stuck to the same tune over such a long period of time that, like an ear worm, the lyrics have been retained in people’s brains.

We on this side of the chamber might not have agreed with him very often, but it is unusual to find a politician who, for nigh on three decades, has relentlessly made the same case over and over again. We would be churlish not to recognise the belief, persistence and stamina that that takes.

However, it is as First Minister today that he is resigning and it is his record as First Minister of Scotland that will, ultimately, decide his legacy. The record is mixed and, for simplicity’s sake, it can be neatly divided into a game of two halves.

In his first term from 2007 to 2011, Mr Salmond’s Government’s minority status ensured that he had to gain consensus and reach out to other parties for support. The fact that sceptical Scottish voters were worried about a nationalist administration meant that Mr Salmond had sometimes to tone things down. Sometimes he appeared to have declawed himself; maybe he counted to twenty every time he was about to say something about independence and focused on mouthing lots of positive, but vague, statements on progress.

Ever the populist, he saw better than any of his predecessors how public funds could be used to win support among key target voters, hence the early decisions to cancel bridge tolls and scrap university tuition fees and prescription charges. We even worked with him on a number of other policies, including the provision of 1,000 extra police officers, a fund to regenerate our town centres and a new drugs strategy for Scotland. There could be no doubt across Scotland that we now had a Government that looked and sounded as if it knew what it was doing, even if we did not much like what that was. The result was that despite not having a parliamentary majority, no party sought to try and bring down the SNP Government during those first four years.

On Thursday, the First Minister joked to my Labour and Liberal colleagues that working with the Conservatives was electoral suicide, despite the small matter of our having defeated him in the recent referendum and despite, also, his knowing that one of the reasons why his Administration gained reputation for competence and stability during those first four years was that he needed, sought and received support from the Scottish Conservatives in order to pass his budgets and keep his Government on the rails. One might say that the First Minister and Annabel Goldie stood shoulder to shoulder to make the Government work. I would not go so far as to say they were better together, but such a close working relationship was no drag on his electoral prospects in 2011.

If that was the first half, we are all too aware of the second. With a remarkable majority, the referendum on independence was agreed, and it is a tribute to both Scottish and UK Governments that it was done with such good faith on both sides. However, some will not judge Mr Salmond’s record from then on quite so kindly. I do not begrudge his devoting the Scottish Government’s time and energy to campaigning for independence; that was his right and his democratic mandate. Rather, in time, I believe that questions might be asked about the way in which Alex Salmond fought that campaign.

Another case could have been made that accepted and acknowledged the upheaval that separating our United Kingdom would have caused. He could have acknowledged that some things would be worse, at least in the short term. Alex Salmond could have used his powerful political and communication skills to have argued, that all that notwithstanding, the goal of a fully sovereign Scotland was worth it.

I am not saying that our own campaign was perfect; indeed, it was not. I am saying that it was the First Minister who had ultimate responsibility for setting out to people the facts about independence; on that crucial task, I am afraid that he came up short.

His decision immediately after the referendum to resign was an honourable one. Many of us here have, however, greatly enjoyed the “Salmond unleashed” that we have seen since: the green ink letters, the radio show phone-ins and the opening of supermarkets out of pique.

We should, however, remember that Mr Salmond said, on the day that he took over as First Minister in May 2007, that

“The Parliament will be one in which the Scottish Government relies on the merits of its legislation, not the might of a parliamentary majority. The Parliament will be about compromise and concession, intelligent debate and mature discussion.”—[Official Report, 16 May 2007; c 24.]

Inevitably, given the passions that were raised by the independence referendum, it has not been easy to maintain those noble ambitions. However, Mr Salmond has led a Government that has often tried to do so, and for that he deserves great credit. I agree with Mr Salmond that this Parliament has become the centre of gravity in Scottish politics. For that, he and his team deserve our regard.

This Parliament’s stature is now recognised by all, and we are all committed here to ensuring that far greater powers and responsibilities are passed to this place. Alex Salmond can leave today in the knowledge that he has taken his party from the fringes to a position of enormous strength.

His leadership has been characterised by a remarkable instinct for the exercise of power, which kept him at the top of his party for two decades, brought him to the top of Scottish political life and made him a dominant politician of this era.

I now find myself in a remarkable position, Presiding Officer. I stand before you today as one of the rarest of breeds: an Opposition leader in the Scottish Parliament who appears to have outlasted Alex Salmond. That is, of course, unless he decides to come back. On the assumption that he will not, I once again extend my best very wishes to him, to Moira and to his wider family.

14:45  

Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
2. Ruth Davidson (Glasgow) (Con)

To ask the First Minister when he will next meet the Prime Minister. (S4F-02375)



Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
Ruth Davidson

I am sure that the First Minister will join me in welcoming the good news yesterday that showed that employment is up and unemployment is down and that earnings are outstripping inflation. That is a credit to both of Scotland’s Governments.

It would, of course, be churlish of politicians not to recognise success. However, it is more damaging not to recognise where work needs to be done. In Scotland, our levels of educational attainment are stagnating; there is no improvement in reducing reconviction rates among offenders; the gap in research and development funding between Scotland and other European Union nations is as big as ever; and people’s satisfaction with their public services is worsening.

The First Minister has once again today recited polls as a measure of success, but do those facts not show up a record that falls well short of his claims?



Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : Thursday, November 13, 2014
Ruth Davidson

The First Minister well knows that admirals do not award contracts; the MOD does.

It is interesting that the First Minister challenged the facts that I provided to him on all of those areas of policy, because I was reading from his own Government’s assessment of his own Government’s performance, as contained in the Scottish Government report card called “Scotland Performs” that I took off his own Government’s website this morning. It says that it provides

“an ‘at a glance’ snapshot of how Scotland and the Government are doing.”

In a section entitled, “Performance at a Glance”, there are 11 key targets that the Scottish National Party Government has rightly set itself and with which it measures its progress. Only two show any performance improvement whatsoever. On the other hand, performance is worsening with regard to raising economic growth to the United Kingdom level; matching the gross domestic product growth rate of small EU countries; productivity; and healthy life expectancy.

Those are the measures that the First Minister set in order to judge the performance of his devolved Administration, and he has failed. For seven years, he has stood there and said, “Only with the powers of independence.” However, the people of Scotland looked at that plan, too, and they said that his performance was not up to much, either.

One last time, therefore, I ask the First Minister: is that really a record that is worthy of so much self-satisfaction?



Meeting of the Parliament 06 November 2014 : Thursday, November 06, 2014
2. Ruth Davidson (Glasgow) (Con)

To ask the First Minister when he will next meet the Secretary of State for Scotland. (S4F-02353)

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
YesCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

S4M-11567.2 Margaret Mitchell: Lowering the Drink Drive Limit—As an amendment to motion S4M-11567 in
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11507.1 Cameron Buchanan: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11507 Angela Constance: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—Th
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

S4M-11494.3 Jackie Baillie: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11494.2 Alex Johnstone: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
>> Show more
YesDefeated

S4M-11494 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—That the Parliament
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11484.1 Jackson Carlaw: Human Rights—As an amendment to motion S4M-11484 in the name of Roseanna
>> Show more
YesDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Ruth Davidson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-10843.1.2: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 20/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10154: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 28/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08707.1: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08501: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 03/12/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07619: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/09/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07499: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 22/08/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07133: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 25/06/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-06569: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 14/05/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-05988.2: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 19/03/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-04594.1: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 29/10/2012 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Ruth Davidson
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4F-02394: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 17/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02375: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02353: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 31/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02336: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02317: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02304: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02284: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 22/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02263: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 14/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02247: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 11/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02229: Ruth Davidson, Glasgow, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 31/07/2014 Show Full Question >>

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