THIS is the time to stand up and be counted. Our society and way of life is under attack like never before at so many levels and in ways that would have seemed totally improbable even a few months ago.
Schools are closed, liberty to travel and work curtailed, and even the very thoughts and arguments we make under increasing threat of censorship. The SNP’s proposed ‘Hate Crime’ Bill bears witness to that. British Government spending now accounts for well over half of the entire output of the nation and in Scotland it has topped 60 per cent. This is totally unsustainable.
These challenges are without precedent. During the war the churches were open. Not today. During the war theatre and pubs were open. Not today. During the war no one said how many guests you could have for Christmas lunch. Not this Christmas.
We need an urgent plan to renew our liberties, and quickly, as if we are not careful we will never get back to normal. All the major political parties have adopted a similar philosophy when it comes down to lockdown, running the economy, free speech and the like.
Sure, their emphasis and desire to controlmight be different but those differences are at the margin. The electorate is being offered a poor choice as we are sleep-walking into a major crisis, economic and social, and there is an urgent need for an alternative approach.
Yesterday a new party in Scotland was born. Reform UK Scotland will be led by the former Scottish Conservative MSP and leadership challenger, Michelle Ballantyne MSP. She will lead the charge and as a sitting MSP will challenge and challenge hard.
She will stand up for the quiet common sense of the population, protecting individual freedoms and responsibility. She will argue for a responsible plan to re-open our schools, the closure of which is doing so much harm at so many levels. She will make a pledge that taxes will be no higher in Scotland than the rest of the UK. The Government must do much better with the substantial treasure it already has. We urge all who are concerned about the direction of our country to examine our ideas and prospectus to get society back on its feet, confident and secure.
We are a pro-UK party. Britain is much stronger united financially, culturally, militarily and in overall security. We believe that the reasons for uniting Britain in 1707 are as relevant today as they were then. We will make the positive case for the Union but we will also reach out to SNP supporters who are worried by the direction of Scotland and want to challenge the consensus. We are pro-Scotland and pro-Britain.
We are a pro-freedom party. It was said until very recently ‘we are a free country’. Increasingly that is under question. The basic right of freedom of thought and worship is fundamental. We will challenge the SNP’s proposed ‘hate crime’ bill. The right to disagree in a reasoned and respectful manner is fundamental and not negotiable in a free society.
We will champion personal choice, community response and local networks. We believe individuals’ families know what is best for them and we seek to increase that choice and minimise regulation and red tape.
We will examine safe and responsible ways of ending the lockdown that are evidence based. Those who are vulnerable and feel unsafe should be supported to shelter; children, students and the young should go out respectfully and reasonably if they wish.
Society must get back to normal and our basic freedoms renewed. The cost to the economy, education, opportunity for the young, health and the mental health of the population and the choice of the many is simply too great. We will offer a plan that challenges the consensus of all the other main parties.
We are a pro-reform party. We guarantee taxes in Scotland will be no higher than the rest of the UK. We will forensically review public spending. The bang for the buck is simply not there. Despite much higher spending than England, Scotland slips down the education and health league tables. Services are expensive and not good enough. We will raise standards and outcomes.
On health it is unacceptable that the NHS has cancelled so many operations, large and small over the lockdown. We will use technology to ensure better and quicker access to GPs and test results. We will prioritise shifting the lockdown backlog and we shall examine procurement, waste and insist on best practice to drive better outcomes for you, the patient.
A generation ago Scotland had one of the finest education systems in the world. No more. This has been an area of abject failure by the Scottish Government and will be one of our urgent priorities. We will focus on community choice, traditional approaches to teaching, competitive sport, respect, discipline and excellence. Schools must re-open. The damage to our young is immensurable in terms of friendships, learning, life chances and also the strain on families coping at home.
We call on all those concerned about Britain and Scotland’s future to examine our ideas and values. If they appeal, come and introduce yourself to us. We are seeking people to get involved at all levels, from simply showing support, to possibly standing as a candidate in forthcoming elections or helping as an organiser. Now is the time to stand up and be counted.