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Goldie pledges a £200 council tax cut for pensioners each year

By Paul Goodman

Goldie Annabel QT I've just read Annabel Goldie's speech to the Scottish Conservative Conference.  It seems to have had four main aims as the Holyrood elections approach on May 5 -

  • To present the Conservatives in Scotland as the voice of common sense.  Goldie said: "Our success in our mission hinges on us telling a simple story on every doorstep, in every leaflet, at every hustings and in every conversation.  We are the Scottish Conservatives. We are the voice of Common Sense. We have delivered for Scotland and we will deliver again."  Later in the speech, she said the Party has "47 days for us to sell our message of Common Sense and Delivery", and closed by repeating that "the Scottish Conservatives are the voice of Common Sense in Scotland".
  • To claim that the Party's MSPs have negotiated good results for Scottish voters.  She claimed credit  for a thousand extra police officers, business rate cuts, a £60 million town regeneration fund, a new national drugs strategy focused on recovery, a council tax freeze over four years, a £26m boost to business and the construction industry and a new housing initiative.  We may not win elections or form governments in Scotland, she suggested, but we deliver for voters by playing the Holyrood game of negotiation, bargaining and deal-making.
  • To pledge a £200 council tax cut for every pensioner household each year.  Every speech needs a headline and Goldie is clearly looking for this announcement to make one.  She also referred back to Murdo Fraser's planss for health checks for the over-40s, Liz Smith's proposals to get back to the three Rs, John Lamont's determination to keep the thousand extra police and Derek Brownlee's ideas for "taking red tape out the hair of business".  There was much more.  Goldie plainly wants to build on the council tax freeze, and this is her negotiating position which she will "battle to deliver".
  • To present herself as a plain speaker battling the big boys.  "Now the media will try and portray this as a two horse race. The former racing tipster Salmond against the Gray. But there is an old nag in the field who’s been round the course and who’s got form when it comes to taking on the boys. Someone who decides what they can and cannot do. Somebody who holds the balance of power in this parliament and who will act without fear or favour. That old nag is me!"  I counted two main attacks on Iain Gray and only one on Alex Salmond - a measure of Labour's recovery in Scotland.

All in all, it was a coherent presentation of the Party's established position in Scotland - challenged yesterday at the conference fringe by Michael Forsyth.  Goldie seems to have steered off anything that would detract from her election message.  Nothing about tax-raising powers for Scotland.  Rather a good section about tuition fees, and a graceful tribute to Phil Gallie.

And absolutely nothing whatsoever about AV, at least in the transcript. 


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