Nicola Sturgeon hits back at criticism from Douglas Ross
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Nicola Sturgeon – in response to Mr Ross claiming she was “detached from working class communities” – invited the Tory leader to come to an area which would be hard hit by the £20 cut in Universal Credit, due to come into force this week. He accepted the invitation, but in a letter to the First Minister sought to shift the focus onto the ongoing drug death crisis. In 2020, 1,339 people died from drugs – continuing an upward trajectory in recent years and setting a new record – prompting newly appointed drugs minister Angela Constance to describe the figures as Scotland’s “national shame”.
Speaking to LBC reporter Alan Zycinski, Ms Sturgeon said: “The shame of these Tories – they are about to take food out of the mouths of children in working class communities the length and breadth of Scotland, including in Douglas Ross’s own constituency, and they have the nerve to make comments like this.
“Maybe Douglas Ross would like to come with me and I’ll introduce him to some working class communities across the country and then he’ll see who’s in touch with them and who is horribly out touch with them, because the Tories, like him, are doing them so much damage every day right now.”
In a letter on Monday, Mr Ross said: “I write in relation to your comments earlier today regarding you and I visiting a working class community.
“I accept and I will join you in visiting one of the working class communities in Glasgow that have been devastated by the drug death crisis.
“Please advise when and where you propose this visit takes place. I look forward to hearing from you.”
Mr Ross hailed the Scottish Conservatives as the “party of working Scotland” as he put drug deaths and local government at the heart of a speech.
He appealed to working-class voters in a speech at a fringe event at the Tory conference in Manchester on Sunday.
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He accuse the First Minister of turning the Scottish Government into a “subsidy of Yes Scotland” and claimed the government was a “constitutional campaign group on stilts” focused on independence above all else.
Mr Ross also highlighted Scotland’s drug deaths crisis, which he claimed would be Ms Sturgeon’s “legacy”.
He said: “An independence referendum won’t add another day of good health to anyone’s life.
“While they talk, we will act. That’s why we’re introducing a Right to Recovery Bill, to tackle the drugs scandal that will be Nicola Sturgeon’s legacy.
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“Every year she has been First Minister, drug deaths have gone up, to the highest level in Europe.”
The Right to Recovery Bill states it would allow anyone seeking addiction treatment “to quickly access their preferred treatment option, unless a medical professional deems it would be harmful to the individual”.
Mr Ross also said the party, which has 31 MSPs, would also bring forward “Mackay’s Law”, which would change rules so MSPs who do not attend Holyrood for six months are forced to stand down.
Former SNP finance secretary Derek Mackay, who resigned from government after the Scottish Sun revealed he was messaging a teenage boy, was paid £100,000 while “hiding at home” and not in parliament, Mr Ross said.
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