The UK has become too ‘London-centric’, admits Ruth Davidson

CommonSpace’s David Thomson reports from the Conservative party conference where Ruth Davidson gave a keynote speech

SCOTTISH CONSERVATIVE PARTY leader Ruth Davidson has told the Conservative party conference that the UK has become “too London-centric”.

Davidson told delegates in Manchester that despite the devolution that has taken place over the last 20 years, there are enough civil servants in London “to fill Wembley”.

Davidson is calling for a greater spread of the civil service and cultural bodies outside of London, across the UK. Davidson highlighted the example of the new Victoria and Albert museum currently being built in Dundee and the ‘northern powerhouse’ in Manchester.

Davidson told delegates in Manchester that despite the devolution that has taken place over the last 20 years, there are enough civil servants in London “to fill Wembley”.

Davidson said: “The government’s industrial strategy is designed to boost growth in places across all four nations of the United Kingdom, and it’s reviewing the various agencies based in London to see which ones could be ready for a move. 

“So I want us to seize the opportunity to ensure more of them come to Scotland.”

Despite the Conservatives losing seats in the snap General Election in June, the Scottish Conservatives managed to win 13 seats, which included former first minister Alex Salmond’s and SNP depute leader Angus Robertson’s.

“The success of our union cannot and should not be measured by the fact the alternative has failed.” Ruth Davidson

The Scottish Conservatives have overtaken Scottish Labour to become the second largest party in Holyrood.

Davidson added: “The success of our Union cannot and should not be measured by the fact the alternative has failed.

“That separation is a busted flush. No - our success must be measured by our determination to always improve.

“By recognising that thousands of our fellow countrymen and women no longer see this country as theirs.” Ruth Davidson

“By going the extra mile. By refusing to accept the status quo as a given. And being restless for change.

“By recognising that thousands of our fellow countrymen and women no longer see this country as theirs. By seeking not to shun them, or dismiss their complaints – but to answer them with action.

“And that must be our task as we go forward from conference this week.”

“Any attempted power-grab by the Tory government in areas such as agriculture and fisheries, which are already devolved, will be opposed tooth and nail by the Scottish Government.” Joan McAlpine

However, following Davidson’s speech, the SNP called for the Scottish Tories to “stand up for Scotland” against any prower grab as part of the UK negotiations for leaving the EU. 

The SNP said that if Ruth Davidson is serious about giving Scotland a “bigger say” in the UK after Brexit, she must get her party to support calls for existing and new powers to be devolved to Scotland after Brexit. According to the SNP, these new powers for Scotland will go beyond Davidson’s call of moving some civil servants out of London

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said: “Scotland needs more than just the relocation of some civil service departments – we need full powers in areas such as immigration and social security in order to make a real, positive difference to people’s lives.
 
“Any attempted power-grab by the Tory government in areas such as agriculture and fisheries, which are already devolved, will be opposed tooth and nail by the Scottish Government. Allowing this to happen would severely undermine Scotland’s devolution settlement. 

“Scotland’s economy is growing nearly four times faster under the SNP than the UK’s under the Tories – and the real threat to Scottish jobs and industries comes from the Tories’ own hard Brexit proposals.” Joan McAlpine

“And if Ruth Davidson is sincere about helping our economy, she should focus on seeing off the risk of a hard Brexit. Despite what the Tories claim, Scotland’s economy is growing nearly four times faster under the SNP than the UK’s under the Tories – and the real threat to Scottish jobs and industries comes from the Tories’ own hard Brexit proposals.”

Currently, the UK Government is proposing that it should take the powers that are already devolved to the Scottish Parliament when they return from Brussels, such as agriculture, environment and fisheries, rather than allowing Holyrood to take control.

Last month, both the Scottish and Welsh governments published a joint list of amendments to the EU withdrawal bill, of which they are citing 111 areas of where they say the Conservatives are plotting to grab powers.

Picture courtesy of David Thomson

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