DOUGLAS Ross and Rishi Sunak have met in Edinburgh to launch the Scottish Tory manifesto. There’s just one problem: they appear to have forgotten what devolution is.

The Scottish Conservatives leader’s foreword to the document – which manages to mention the SNP more times than the economy – gets a fair few basics wrong.

These are all the times the Scottish Tory manifesto forgot about the Scottish Parliament…


“And you can elect MPs who will focus on the big challenges facing their communities. Local champions who will campaign on the need to upgrade major roads like the A9 and secure funding to fix potholes.”

Since the creation of Transport Scotland by an Act of the Scottish Parliament in 2005, the body has had responsibility for Scotland’s trunk roads system, including the A9.

The Scottish Government has been regularly criticised for its failure to make more of the road into a dual carriageway, despite promises to do so.

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With varying numbers of Scottish Tory MPs “focused on the people’s priorities” over the years, you could forgive them for not bringing it up that often – but according to Hansard, dualling the A9 has only ever been raised in Westminster 13 times since 2015.

In fact, during Scottish questions in 2015, then-Scottish secretary David Mundell (above) told off SNP MP Pete Wishart for bringing up the A9 in the UK Parliament.

He said: “We constantly hear complaints from [Wishart] about this place intruding into the affairs of the Scottish Parliament, and yet he raises an issue that is solely the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament.”


“Local champions who will work to recruit 1000 additional GPs and reduce waiting times for appointments and treatment.”

Again, Scotland’s health care system is the responsibility of the Scottish Government, accountable to the Scottish Parliament.

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Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting (below) did remind us recently that “all roads go back to Westminster” when it comes to NHS funding, but policy (things like the recruitment of more GPs, or plans to tackle waiting lists) is set in Edinburgh, not London.

And for reference on how much Scotland’s NHS is talked about in the Commons, it was brought up 1758 times since 2015. That might sound like a lot, but the NHS was mentioned more generally 46,272 times in the last nine years.


“Local champions who will support restoring standards in our schools and back a return to Scotland’s educational traditions.”

Scottish education policy is not only devolved, it has always been entirely separate from the English system.

Scottish Tory MPs will be met with blank looks from whoever is the next education secretary if they bring up policies to “back a return to Scotland’s educational traditions” in Westminster.

The minister will probably not know the difference between a National 5 and a Higher – and don’t bother asking them about Curriculum for Excellence or how long they think undergraduates typically spend in university.

Or to what level someone had been educated if they held an MA from Scotland’s ancient universities.

Police and sentencing

“Local champions who will back putting 1000 more police on our streets and longer sentences for dangerous criminals.”

This is a double whammy of failing to understand devolution.

Firstly, the number of bobbies on the beat in Scotland is not set in Westminster. It is also not technically set in Holyrood but rather in Tulliallan, where Police Scotland is headquartered.

But since the Scottish Government likes to take credit for better police numbers compared with England, that becomes a slightly academic point because Holyrood holds the purse strings.

Regardless, Scottish Tory MPs demanding more police from the UK Government will again likely be met with puzzled looks at the despatch box.

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Finally, on sentencing. Policy in this area is made by the Scottish Sentencing Council. There is an equivalent in England and Wales with much the same name.

The Scottish Government has also long held that the courts should be independent from governmental interference in sentencing, something that has been affirmed in at least two recent acts of the Scottish Parliament.

And are the denizens of Westminster that interested? Well in the last nine years it has been mentioned a grand total of … seven times.

That is twice by former Tory MP Ross Thomson, twice by Labour MPs, twice by the SNP’s Joanna Cherry and once by former defence secretary Ben Wallace who is kind of a Scottish Tory but not really.

In conclusion...

And there you have it. Manifestos eh? Turns out you can put just about anything in them and hope no one actually bothers to read it.

Of course, the Tories might have had an easier job remembering what was reserved and what was in Holyrood’s power if they didn’t actually despise devolution …