EIGHT years ago I attended my first Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party conference. I remember it well.  

It was held in Troon and it was Ruth Davidson’s first ever conference as party leader – I was a young fresh-faced 15-year-old fired up and ready for change. 

Eight years on and a lot has changed. We are now led by Douglas Ross, I am not so young and fresh-faced and coronavirus meant that we had to meet virtually this year. 

However, one thing hasn’t changed and that is my and the Scottish Conservatives determination to change Scotland for the better.   

Glasgow Times: Ruth Davidson Ruth Davidson

At the weekend the Scottish Conservative used our conference to outline many of our policies that will help rebuild our communities, not only as a result of the Covid pandemic, but as a result of the SNP’s failures over their 13 years in charge. 

Coming hot off the heels of the Prime Minister’s announcement of defence investment in Scotland that will directly benefit jobs and livelihoods in Glasgow and the West of Scotland connected to ship building on the Clyde, the Scottish Conservatives announced a wide-ranging array of detailed policy that will be at the heart of our election manifesto for next May’s vital Scottish Parliament elections. 

These include a commitment to remove the ‘not proven’ verdict in the criminal courts, which has been welcomed by campaigners who believe the confusing and misunderstood verdict exacerbates the trauma and loss for victims and their families. 

We also want to empower local communities through ‘Community Investment Deals’ and making it the law that our local councils such as Glasgow City Council are funded more fairly.  

When you add these proposals to Douglas Ross’ policy papers to Power Up Scotland and protect jobs and transform our education system by restoring our teacher numbers which have fallen by 3000 under the SNP, then you have a party offering a positive alternative vision to the SNP. 

As we continue to fight the spread of coronavirus, and as our city lives under an effective lockdown again for the next few weeks, I find it astonishing that we have senior SNP figures constantly talking up the prospect of another independence referendum. 

Their Westminster leader Ian Blackford argued last week that another divisive vote must be held next year and added that it was only due to Covid that it had happened last year. Similar commitments to a referendum in 2021 have been made by SNP Cabinet Ministers Mike Russell and Fiona Hyslop. 

I do not expect nationalists to stop believing in nationalism but it shows exactly where their priorities lie. We are all getting understandably excited about the prospect of a vaccine rollout and we must see both of Scotland’s Government’s working together to ensure that is successful. We must continue to work together to support jobs and livelihoods.  

We had a once in a generation referendum in 2014. Next year should be about taking Scotland forward and offering hope after the year everyone has suffered. It’s about rebuilding communities and not taking Scotland back to the divisions of the past, and pitting family members, work colleagues and towns and villages against each other. 

Glasgow Times: Douglas Ross Douglas Ross

My little sister is growing up in a Scotland where it’s common for her big brother to be called a ‘traitor’. We need to be given an opportunity to move on and that is why I am proud to be standing  for election under a commitment to put education over separation.

SNP candidates across the country are pledging on their election leaflets to put independence first – they want your vote to be elected to a parliament that they then wish to dissolve. That cannot be the right priority for our people.  

Glasgow Times readers and Shettleston ones in particular will know that I will always put our communities first and that won’t change if I am fortunate enough to be elected in May.