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by Niall Christie
THE leader of the Scottish Conservatives confirmed yesterday that Tory plans to reach full employment north of the border and create business recovery councils would not include trade-union or worker representation.
Douglas Ross, a football assistant referee, MP and MSP candidate in the upcoming Holyrood elections, told journalists that his party would set out “ambitious plans” to rebuild Scotland after the coronavirus pandemic, including a number of grants for business owners.
The Tories laid out their Rebuilding Roadmap for Scotland ahead of May’s elections, which included an aim of achieving full employment in Scotland by 2025 by ending “the SNP’s anti-business approach.”
The party would implement a business recovery council that Scottish ministers would be required to consult regularly about restrictions, grants and new economic policies.
Mr Ross, who intends to continue with his other two jobs if he is elected next month, rejected calls for trade unions to be given parity with bosses in the proposed governmental advisory groups, claiming that workers and unions “already feed in at a government level.”
When asked by the Morning Star whether any protections or regulations would be put in place to safeguard workers, Mr Ross said that he “understood these concerns,” but that the Tories were focused on getting people back into work.
He rejected that grant funding would only “line the pockets of businesses,” adding that policies such as a £500 “retrain to rebuild” payment for every Scottish adult would allow those who lost their job during the pandemic to acquire new skills.
Mr Ross was also asked by the Star whether his party’s manifesto promises mattered, given the considerable lead that the SNP currently have and the recent rise in support for Labour, who may push the Tories into third place.
The prospective MSP claimed that the question was “snippy,” adding that the Scottish Parliament was not designed for any party to have an outright majority, and that it was important for parties to bring forward issues to ensure they are discussed in Holyrood.
The north-east politician, who saw his approval ratings fall yesterday to the lowest of any party leader in Scotland, said that he would not stand down after the election, even if his party fell below Scottish Labour to third in the polls.
He said: “I’m not even going to accept the premise of the question because that allows headlines to be written.”
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