By Bill Heaney

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie today described the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s speech to Scottish Conservative conference as “without vision and without energy – obsessing over the Tories’ partners in division, the SNP”.

“The people of Scotland know what this Tory government means – sleaze at the highest level while people go hungry and face soaring bills.

Tory conference – Douglas Ross, Ian Murray, Humza Yousaf and Jackie Baillie. The debate begins.

“It’ll take more than a ‘super computer’ to figure out how the Scottish Tories get out of the electoral morass into which they have plunged head-first.

“The attempt to bar the press from asking questions was a desperate and cowardly act that has back-fired spectacularly.

“Time is up for the Scottish Tories – people know that it is their dangerous and out of touch politics that are the biggest threat to the union.

“Only Scottish Labour can tackle the Tory cost-of-living crisis and lock the Tories and the SNP out of power,” Ms Baillie said.

Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Ian Murray MP said “Douglas Ross and Rishi Sunak have a busy weekend ahead rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, but few Scots will be paying attention.

“After 13 years of failure, the Tories are out of touch and out of time.  This economically illiterate and morally bankrupt party has been a disaster for Scotland and provided endless cover for the SNP.

“They crashed the economy and it will cost Scots thousands of pounds for years to come.

“They will continue to sink to new lows as they get more and more desperate, but change is coming with a Labour government.

“At the next election voters across the UK can come together to boot out this Tory circus – but only Labour can do that.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross’s speech began just half an hour ago with a predictable attack on the SNP – “Humza Yousaf said that he wants to shift independence into ‘fifth gear’.  Yet instead, with an uninsured driver at the wheel, the campaign is going into reverse. The camper-van has stalled.   

“The SNP’s financial troubles have blown a huge hole in the economic case for independence.  They want to hold an independence referendum in just six months’ time – when they cannot even find an auditor in the same time-frame.  They want to set up a central bank – when they cannot even submit their own accounts.

“And to borrow billions of pounds from the taxpayer to finance a new country – when they still owe tens of thousands of pounds to Peter Murrell.  Perhaps their plan for a new currency is an elaborate scheme to clear their own debts.

“The SNP cannot even manage their own accounts, how can they be trusted on the finances of an independent Scotland?   

“Nobody will ever believe a nationalist on currency, pensions and balancing the books ever again.

“We have always known that our arguments on trade, currency and jobs were stronger – and the 2014 referendum proved that.   But now the SNP lack any credibility.  Through their own blunders, the nationalists have crashed the case for independence.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:  “With Douglas Ross’ backing, the Tories have crashed the economy, hammered everyone into a brutal cost of living crisis, refused to bring in a meaningful windfall tax and are demonising the desperate with their heartless small boats legislation.

“They are out of touch, out of excuses and the record-breaking Liberal Democrat by-election wins prove people want them out of government.

“Change is needed for Scotland, but Douglas Ross represents more of the divisive and dreary same.”

On the calls for changes to community energy rules, Mr Cole-Hamilton, pictured left, added:  “The Tories can copy our homework all they like, but they’re not fooling anyone.

“For months, Scottish Liberal Democrats have been promoting fresh community energy plans that would see local communities get their fair share.

“Unlike the Tories, Scottish Liberal Democrats are crackling with good and original ideas.”

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