This general election matters more than any other in a generation. Not just because whichever government is elected faces the unprecedented challenge of the Brexit negotiations and securing the best deal for Britain outside the EU, but because Scotland’s place within the UK is again at the very heart of the debate.
On March 13, when Nicola Sturgeon announced she would try to force another independence referendum she, along with her vast team of spin doctors and taxpayer-funded advisers, clearly hadn’t banked on having to look Scottish voters in the eye in a general election that was not expected until 2020.
I will never forget the anger towards the SNP and this divisive First Minister when I was knocking on doors the following evening for the local elections. Many SNP voters told me that they had also had enough and just wanted to see politicians getting on with our day job – actually legislating and improving our health, education and transport systems which are failing in too many areas under the Scottish Government’s stewardship.
This election also presents an opportunity to elect a team of MPs for the Capital who will work to get things done. Over the last year I have led the campaign against parking charge increases at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, pressed for investment in local GP and mental health services and called for action to address capacity issues on the city by-pass. These are the subjects we need to focus on and not a permanent campaign for a second independence referendum. That’s why at this election is so important – it’s a chance to send Nicola Sturgeon a very clear message: we said no in 2014, we meant it and we want our voice to be respected.
Many lifelong Labour and Li b Dem voters are using this election to help turn the page on the constitutional arguments which have divided Scotland for too long. For many voters, they will not be running along Princes Street screaming they are Conservatives but in the privacy of the polling booth they will use this opportunity to help Ruth Davidson and the Conservatives bring the SNP down to size.
In communities which make up constituencies like Edinburgh South West where I am standing, as well as seats like Edinburgh North & Leith, and East Lothian only a vote for the Scottish Conservatives can beat the SNP.
Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to try to drag Scotland back to another divisive independence referendum less than three years after we settled the issue has not only angered voters it’s made the election a critical choice. It is the key issue that comes up on doorsteps across the city, from Colinton to Craiglockhart, Currie to Sighthill.
At this election it is clear people don’t want to turn back with the SNP. More than ever Scotland needs strong local champions to work for our areas – not Nicola Sturgeon’s voice in our communities with SNP MPs whose priority will be campaigning for a second referendum.
This election is like no other. Only a vote for the Scottish Conservatives will send a strong message that we oppose SNP’s divisive plan for a second referendum. Make your vote count!
Miles Briggs is the Conservative candidate for Edinburgh South West