Douglas Ross urges Unionists to 'rediscover Better Together spirit' from 2014 to stop SNP

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Douglas Ross launching the Scottish Tory election campaign -  Getty Images Europe
Douglas Ross launching the Scottish Tory election campaign - Getty Images Europe

Douglas Ross has appealed to Unionists to deny the SNP a Holyrood majority by rediscovering the "Better Together spirit" of the 2014 independence referendum and voting tactically for the Scottish Tories.

Launching his party's election campaign in Aberdeen, the Scottish Tory leader said a majority of Scots opposed Nicola Sturgeon's plan for another separation referendum in the near future but they had to unite instead of splitting their vote.

He made a direct plea to Scots who would "never describe" themselves as Conservative or "have never voted for us before" to vote tactically for his party and stop the SNP trying to "divide our families and break up the UK."

Mr Ross recalled how Unionist voters achieved this in the 2014 referendum by coalescing behind the victorious Better Together campaign and argued the same strategy should be adopted on May 6.

Urging them to "come together again", he said the Conservatives were the "largest and strongest opposition party" behind which they could unite and his party's top priority was rebuilding from Covid.

His plea came as Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, admitted his party was not "naturally comfortable Unionist", explaining that "constitutional politics is not what gets us out of bed in the morning."

Nicola Sturgeon campaigning in her Glasgow Southside constituency - AFP
Nicola Sturgeon campaigning in her Glasgow Southside constituency - AFP

Mr Ross also warned voters impressed by Ms Sturgeon's performance during the pandemic not to be fooled into voting for her if they do not want another referendum.

He said: "There is no way to vote SNP and not vote for an independence referendum, the two are synonymous...It is an endorsement of their damaging plan to divide our country."

Although Boris Johnson has refused to hand Ms Sturgeon the powers for another separation vote, he said she had set out plans for an "illegal wildcat referendum" instead.

His campaign launch in Aberdeen coincided with an opinion poll showing the SNP is on course to win a majority in May, with 67 out of 129 seats. Labour was placed second with 24 seats and the Tories fell to third with 22.

But the Survation survey for the Aberdeen Press and Journal found 51 per cent of Scots would still reject independence if another referendum was staged.

Mr Ross noted the SNP needs just two more seats to get a majority and told voters they faced a "binary choice" at the ballot box.

"Divide Scotland now – or rebuild Scotland over the next five years. Referendum – or recovery. An SNP majority and indy ref two - or the Scottish Conservatives stopping them," he said.

“Scotland’s future is on the line. So we have to come together again. Rediscover that Better Together spirit that enabled us to defeat the SNP’s campaign for separation".

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

He recalled how the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats "came together as one campaign strong enough to defeat nationalism" in 2014 despite their different stances on many issues.

Mr Ross said they "embraced" Better Together because it could stop separation and concluded: "We need everyone - the majority in Scotland - who wants recovery over a referendum to again unite behind one campaign to deliver that result."

In contrast, he said Scottish Labour appeared "ashamed" of having been part of the victorious campaign. He said his offer still stood of a post-election alliance with Labour to oust the SNP, if the parliamentary arithmetic made that possible.

This has been rejected by Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader. Mr Ross also rejected SNP criticism of his refusal to give up his Moray Westminster seat despite returning to Holyrood.

The Scottish Tory leader pointed out a series of senior figures from other parties, including Alex Salmond when he became SNP First Minister, had previously held seats in both parliaments simultaneously.

He said he planned to take his MP salary and donate his MSP wage to charity, echoing the arrangement Mr Salmond had in place between 2007 and 2010.

Speaking to the Reform Scotland think tank, Mr Sarwar said the Labour vote had declined since devolution partly thanks to the political focus on the constitution.

He said: "Labour hasn’t found it easy to find their space when constitutional politics is not what gets us out of bed in the morning. We are neither naturally comfortable unionists and we are neither nationalists.

"And that gives us a really different, difficult challenge to navigate that. And we have just not had that message and that clarity over that period of time."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting