Politics

Ruth Davidson: UK is too 'London-centric'

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Media captionRuth Davidson says Corbyn “hasn’t even won a raffle”

Ruth Davidson has demanded Scotland benefits more from being part of the Union with a plea for more government jobs to be relocated north.

The Scottish Conservative leader said the UK “continues to be far too London-centric” with “enough civil servants to fill Wembley Stadium”.

Ms Davidson also urged activists not to lose heart in the face of a resurgent Labour Party.

She predicted Jeremy Corbyn’s “bubble” would burst if the party worked hard.

Guide: 2017 political party conferences

The Scottish Conservatives have enjoyed a significant revival under Ms Davidson’s leadership, winning 13 seats in June’s snap election, including those of former first minister Alex Salmond and SNP depute leader Angus Robertson.

‘Free unicorns’

She told the Conservative conference in Manchester: “Just as the SNP came crashing down to earth. Just as they lost 40% of their seats in June.

“Just as half a million Scots chose to take their vote away. So too can the Corbyn bubble burst, but only if we work hard to make it so.

“Because, you know what? People tire of being offered free unicorns. Of easy promises that don’t add up.

“They want serious solutions to the issues facing their world. They want opportunities to make their own lives better.”

The Scottish Conservatives leader said she loved London but – in an allusion to speculation she could be a future prime minister – joked: “No plans to move there myself, but great to visit.”

But she then criticised the concentration of civil servant jobs in the UK capital, saying: “For all the devolution of power in the last 20 years, our Union continues to be far too London-centric.”

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Alan Richardson

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Ms Davidson praised the V&A Dundee project but argued more jobs must move outside London

She told the conference: “We live in a country where the property values of London’s top 10 boroughs are worth more than all of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales combined.

“Where you can sell a three bed semi in Ilford, and buy half of Sutherland.

“Where, in a capital city already zooming forward on the jet fuel of high finance, the economy is further boosted by enough civil servants to fill Wembley stadium.”

Ms Davidson cited the new V&A museum in Dundee as a model of investment already taking place.

She argued that the civil service and cultural bodies must “represent and be present” across the whole of the UK.

“The government is reviewing the various agencies based in London to see which ones could be ready for a move,” Ms Davidson said.

“So I want us to seize the opportunity to ensure more of them come to Scotland.”

‘Power grab’

The SNP described Ms Davidson’s call for a transfer of civil service jobs “lightweight”.

MSP Joan McAlpine said: “Given the nature of Ruth Davidson’s speech this afternoon, we now expect her to stand up to Theresa May and get behind our efforts to bring more powers to Holyrood after Brexit.

“David Mundell previously promised a powers ‘bonanza’ for Scotland so let’s see some progress made on that promise with real action.”

She added: “Scotland needs more than just the relocation of some civil service departments – we need full powers in areas such as immigration and social security in order to make a real, positive difference to people’s lives.”

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