Scots Tory Bid To Become Main Opposition

7 February 2016, 12:06 | Updated: 7 February 2016, 12:10

Ruth Davidson has urged voters to make the Conservatives the second largest party at Holyrood, saying she "stands ready to serve'' as leader of the opposition.

The Scottish Conservative leader said if people did not want to change the government in Edinburgh, they should call time on Labour's role as the main opposition.

She made the plea after a poll last week put her narrowly ahead of Labour in the constituency section of the ballot.

While Labour has been the main opposition at Holyrood since 2007, a YouGov survey for The Times newspaper put support for Kezia Dugdale's party at 19%, just below the Conservatives who polled 20%.

In the regional list vote, where a fierce battle for seats between the opposition parties is expected, Labour and the Tories both polled 20%.

Ms Davidson told the Murnaghan show on Sky News that for nine years she had ``watched the official opposition the Labour Party not lay a glove on the SNP''.

She added: "They're shambolic, they've not been tremendously competent.

"I think something in Scotland needs to change and if the voters of Scotland choose not to change the government of Scotland I think they should change the opposition and I stand ready to serve.''

The Conservatives - whose best ever result at Holyrood has been to return 18 MSPs - are "on course'' to achieve a record result on May 5, Ms Davidson added.

She said: "I charged my team, my candidates, all the people that are working with me, my activists, to go out and get us the best Scottish Conservative result we've ever had in the history of devolution. We're on course to achieve that.

"I stand ready to make a strong contribution in the next Parliament, there's lots of issues in Scotland we need to resolve, not least the flirtation the SNP continues having with a second referendum.

"We had a referendum, it was in September 2014 and as long as they talk about independence I will speak for the two million votes in Scotland that said 'no thank you, we want to remain part of the United Kingdom'.''

The Scottish Conservative also insisted voters in Scotland are "smart enough'' to cope with having a Holyrood election in May and a referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union in June.

No date has yet been set for an EU referendum, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned David Cameron it would be ''disrespectful'' to have it in June, just over a month after the Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and London mayoral elections.

But Ms Davidson said: "Scotland already has four different voting systems for the European Parliament, the Westminster Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and local authorities.

"We're quite a sophisticated electorate. Indeed at the last Scottish Parliamentary election in 2011 we had a referendum on the same day, that was on the AV system of voting.

"Nicola Sturgeon thinks that Scottish voters aren't smart enough to be able to think of more than one thing at a time - I've got news for her.

"It does a disservice to the voters of Scotland to think that people here can't think of more than one thing at a time.''