Election 2016: Striving for a strong Conservative opposition

Douglas Ross - strong opposition required.
Douglas Ross – strong opposition required.

Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Conservatives are aiming to be a strong opposition in the next Parliament. So why do we need a strong opposition?

It’s because this Parliament will be one of the most powerful devolved legislators in the World now that more powers have been passed to it from Westminster.

Everyone agrees that a one-party state is not healthy. Good governments need strong, effective oppositions. While the official opposition since 2007 has technically been Labour, have they been effective?

Let’s look at one piece of legislation passed recently by the Parliament. A piece of legislation that only the Scottish Conservatives opposed. A piece of legislation that Labour fully supported, only to now do a u-turn on it. I am of course speaking about the Named Person.

Some background for those not aware of this legislation – it promises to give every child from birth to 18 access to a Named Person or state guardian who is not their parent, carer or a member of their wider family.

It is proposed that this will stop vulnerable children slipping through the net but my fear is that it could make it more likely that the children who need the most support don’t get it. A blanket policy means that scarce resources are spread across every family rather than targeting those who would benefit most from it.

Scottish Conservatives opposed this legislation throughout its process through the Scottish Parliament, lodging amendments to limit the scope and duration of the scheme and calling for an opt-out for concerned parents.

These sensible suggestions were voted down by the opposition parties. Indeed Labour as the official opposition called us ‘ignorant’ for opposing the SNP plans and voted the legislation through. Only a few weeks later they are now calling for a pause on the scheme which is due to start across the country in August. Nothing like closing the door once the horse has bolted.

Our manifesto pledges to scrap the Named Persons legislation and direct the resources from this policy to where they are needed most.

We would set-up a £10m Crisis Family Fund that identifies families with complex needs and provides them with tailored support. Whether it’s helping with school attendance and re-offending, dealing with mental health or substance abuse, tackling domestic violence or providing relationship support. These are just some of the way we think can benefit those in need rather than spending money on having Named Persons.

These plans would see funds directed to those who need it, to help prevent people slipping through the cracks as opposed to treating everyone the same and forcing Named Persons on families who don’t need or want them.

This is just one example of poor legislation which has been passed at Holyrood with a majority government supported by an ineffective opposition.

We need Ruth Davidson leading a large team of Conservative MSPs to prevent more flawed Bills like this taking scarce resources away from those who need it most to fund a policy which has been criticised by the police, health visitors, teachers and is deemed as unnecessary and an intrusion by parents and children and young people.

All Moray candidates in the 2016 Parliamentary Election plus list candidates for the Green Party and an Independent were invited to submit their views on one day each week until Friday, April 29 – they will then be invited to sum-up their cases on Sunday, May 1 in a final address on insideMoray before the election.

Candidates for the Banffshire and Buchan constituency that includes part of Moray around Buckie have also been invited to submit their views – two accepted, two did not reply – and none have actually submitted any article.