Nicola Sturgeon mocks Scottish Tories’ sparse Holyrood election manifesto

NICOLA Sturgeon has criticised the Scottish Tories‘ election manifesto, which was launched today ahead of next month’s Holyrood election.

The First Minister hit out at the party after it was revealed they only have plans for 15 bills in the next parliament, including a “Victims Bill” to end automatic early release, introduce whole life custody sentences and end the not proven verdicts that are unique to the Scottish justice system.

Sturgeon said: “For context – there were 63 Scottish Government bills passed in the last Parliament.”

The Tories’ manifesto also references a second independence referendum more than the NHS.

Announcing his party’s priorities ahead of the Holyrood election next month, Douglas Ross said creating jobs would be his party’s priority in the next parliament but warned the country’s efforts to recover from the coronavirus pandemic would be “crippled” if the SNP continue to focus on independence.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross makes ‘nonsense’ excuse for Boris Johnson avoiding Scotland

Speaking at the launch of the manifesto in Glasgow, Ross said: “Independence will be the SNP’s priority.

“If they are elected with a majority, they will take that mandate as free rein to drive forward their obsession at the earliest opportunity.

“We cannot trust the SNP to deliver our recovery.

“We cannot rebuild Scotland, while we are crippled by the threat of an independence referendum.

“So we need to take that threat off the table.”

The word “referendum” is mentioned 30 times in the manifesto, the word “independence” 12 times and “NHS” 26 times.

In a virtual speech on Monday, Ross said Sturgeon was acting like she already had the election “in the bag”.

“We cannot trust the SNP to deliver our recovery,” he said. “We need to ensure the Scottish Parliament is laser-focused on our national interest right now, not party-political priorities.

“We need to prevent the SNP from winning a majority, from having total control.

“And it is only by voting for the Scottish Conservatives, that we can achieve this.

“In 2016, half a million Scots gave their party list vote to us and together we stopped an SNP majority that all the pundits believed was inevitable.

“Just like last time, Nicola Sturgeon thinks she has got this election in the bag. But if we come together again, we can prove her wrong again.”

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On the health service, the Tories said they would guarantee the NHS Scotland budget would increase either by the level of Barnett consequentials or 2% more than inflation every year – whichever figure is higher.

According to current estimates, this would increase the health service’s annual funding by more than £2 billion by 2025-26.

A further £600 million should also be allocated this year for “tackling the backlog of operations and treatment” exacerbated by the pandemic, Ross said.

The Scottish Conservatives have also pledged to increase mental health funding to 10% of the frontline health budget during the next parliament alongside expansions of community-based programmes such as cognitive behavioural therapy, social prescribing, exercise referral schemes and peer support.

Outlining education policies, Ross said: “We would invest £120m this year into a catch-up premium for every school child and set up a national tutoring programme for those children in most need of support.

“And over the Parliament we will give £1bn directly to schools for tackling the attainment gap.

“To end the SNP’s cuts to teacher numbers, we will recruit an additional 3000 teachers.

“We would allow every primary school child a free school lunch and breakfast because – as the son of a school cook – I know the importance of nutritious meals to a child’s learning.

“And we would roll out wraparound childcare, to allow kids to take part in exciting out-of-school activities and support their parents to keep a full-time job when their child starts school.”

READ MORE: Majority of UK voters back indyref2 if SNP win majority in Holyrood election

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