Scotland politics

Tory conference: Scottish leader Ruth Davidson in pro-UK rallying call

Ruth Davidson
Image caption Ruth Davidson addressed Tory Party delegates at their conference

Pro-Unionists must win emphatically in the Scottish independence referendum, the Scottish Tory leader has told her party conference.

Addressing the Birmingham gathering, Ruth Davidson said it was a privilege to be part of the Union.

Later she will speak to a fringe gathering in which she will attack the role of the state.

She is expected to say it is staggering that public sector expenditure makes up 50% of Scotland's GDP.

During her main conference speech, Ms Davidson called on the Tories to join the campaign to keep the UK intact.

A referendum on Scottish independence is expected to be held in the autumn of 2014.

Ms Davidson said: "The United Kingdom is a family home where all relations are equally welcome. We have heard talk before about the pain of separation and the effect of divorce, but what we really need to talk about now is what makes the UK a good place to be.

"Genuinely happy families don't stay together because of the fear of divorce, they stay together instinctively because their relationships work and they can't begin to imagine a life apart.

"When times are good they love each other's company and when times are bad they give each other support and reassurance.

"Most people experience doubts from time to time and few relationships exist without difficulties. And sometimes even the most devoted need little reminders of why they stay together."

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Media captionRuth Davidson: "Is it fair and equitable that people can take more home in benefits than the average working family earns?"

At lunchtime the MSP attended a fringe meeting in which she claimed that only 12% of households contribute to Scotland's wealth.

She describe the statistic, taken from figures released by the Office for National Statistics, as "frightening" and pointed out that public sector expenditure made up half of Scotland's GDP.

She believed Scotland should expand its private sector to build prosperity and increase opportunity.

Public sector

Ms Davidson told delegates that removing the "restraint of government diktat" is the best way to lift people out of dependency.

She said: "So little moves in Scotland without government approval and anyone who dares challenge the status quo is deemed an enemy of the state.

"Maybe it's because we stand up against the political establishment that some Scottish commentators have been indecently keen to write us off.

"But the rotten system of patronage which denies so many people real choices in their lives has created a corrosive sense of entitlement which suits its political gang-masters.

"It is staggering that public sector expenditure makes up a full 50% of Scotland's GDP and only 12% of households are net contributors, where the taxes they pay outweigh the benefits they receive through public spending.

"Only 12% are responsible for generating Scotland's wealth. I wonder how many of them work on public sector contracts. It's not just staggering, it's frightening."

On the first full day of the Tory conference, Chancellor George Osborne said that the government was determined to cut a further £10bn from the benefits budget to fight the deficit.

His keynote speech set out new ideas such as removing the rise in child support benefits jobless parents receive as they have more children.

But ruled out a levy on high-value properties sought by Lib Dems.

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