Miles Briggs: Loss of old voting habits is chance for Tories

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I’m sure you will be delighted to learn that the Scottish Parliament elections are now just 295 days from now... yes, soon you can expect the endless joy of picking up leaflet after leaflet pushed through the letter box or canvassers ringing the doorbell just as you’ve dished up the tea.

However, the Scottish Parliament elections next May could be the most important we have faced as a country since the advent of devolution and present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to recast Scottish Politics.

At the recent Westminster election I contested the Edinburgh South constituency. And I can firmly say that despite the result it was a great experience and I enjoyed every minute of the campaign when I met more than 6500 local voters on the door step. It is clear that the aspirations of Scots which helped create the Scottish Parliament and the same appetite for change which we saw at the referendum will impact again next May.

It is the aspirations of our fellow Scots which matter so much to how people decide to vote and it is how Scotland’s political parties communicate an aspiring message to voters that, I believe, will decide which parties will triumph next May.

Listening to the Scottish Labour leadership debate over the last few weeks has been like listening to a set of broken old bagpipes. Scottish Labour has officially given up on middle class Scots and from the unapologetic targeting of the charitable status of Scotland’s independent schools to bringing up old political fights of yesterday has just gone to expose the 
outdated political class warfare and dog whistle politics we are seeing between Labour and the SNP. A development of which will not be good for our education system or for our politics in Scotland.

A left-wing SNP versus a left-wing Labour party. Is that really Scotland’s political future? A fight between which party can most increase the taxes of hard working Scots and try to out-flank each other on the far left? To coin a phrase used by Ed Miliband – Scotland can do better than this.

Since that general election I have spoken with many fellow Edinburghers and despite the unprecedented result which saw the SNP winning every seat across the Lothians accept Edinburgh South, the key feeling which I have heard expressed from people is that the other half of the country who did not support the SNP in May now more than ever want to see a real opposition in Holyrood to both hold the SNP to account and express an alternative approach.

It is imperative for our Scottish democracy that we have a strong and credible opposition and that the SNP’s long game towards trying to force another referendum on Scottish independence is positively addressed.

Ruth Davidson has already started to lay the ground work towards making the Conservatives in Scotland the real alternative to the SNP. I believe that presents a genuine opportunity to secure a tactical vote from the silent majority of Scots who voted No.

The opportunity to gain a significantly improved regional vote next May can present a break-through moment for the Conservatives in Scotland. In order to win, we need to work harder than ever. Unlike the zombie Labour party in Scotland, Conservatives are ready to work our socks off between now and polling day to turn an electoral opportunity into electoral gains.

It is clear that the old voting habits in Scotland have been shattered. That presents an opportunity for Scottish Conservatives to prosper. Let’s seize the opportunity and win for Scotland.

Miles Briggs is prospective Lothians candidate for the Scottish Conservatives in 2016