Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 13:13 UK

Tories 'don't suck up' to the SNP

Annabel Goldie with Brian Taylor
Annabel Goldie was answering viewers questions put to her by Brian Taylor

Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie has denied "sucking up" to the SNP since it took power at Holyrood in May.

However, in a BBC Scotland webchat, she said it was right that her party had worked with the Scottish Government to deliver Conservative policies.

She also firmly denied leaving the door open to backing an independence referendum, saying it did not serve people's interests "at the moment".

Miss Goldie was speaking as her party's annual conference got under way in Ayr.

The MSP was asked a selection of questions from the hundreds which had been submitted by members of the public.

What the Tories refused to do, quite rightly, was go into coalition with Alex Salmond
Annabel Goldie
Scottish Conservative Party leader

She strongly defended the Scottish Conservatives' decision to work with the SNP on its policies, which also included speedier cuts to business rates and a national drug strategy.

"The Conservatives are not sucking up to the Nationalist government," she said.

"What the Tories refused to do, quite rightly, was go into coalition with Alex Salmond. But if voters in Scotland think it's serious political activity to stand in the way of getting Conservative policies delivered in Scotland, I do not agree with that.

"It would be utterly irresponsible of the Conservatives to stand back and say to the people of Scotland 'you are all yelling out for more police officers, you are feeling insecure in your communities, but we are not going to do anything, we are just going to stand in a corner and do nothing'.

"That is unthinkable and people would find that incredible."

Amended comments

During the half-hour live webcast hosted by BBC political editor Brian Taylor, Miss Goldie answered questions on an independence referendum, taxation, Scottish broadcasting and the constitutional future of the country

A number of people wanted to know what Miss Goldie's response was to deputy leader Murdo Fraser's initial criticisms of the Greater Manchester Police's handling of the Rangers vs Zenit St Petersburg Uefa Cup final in Manchester.

The day after the trouble, he said the decision to deploy riot police was an "over-reaction" which may have inflamed the situation.

But Mr Fraser was later forced to temper his comments after viewing the CCTV footage.

David Cameron
David Cameron also addressed the party faithful gathering in Ayr

Miss Goldie said Mr Fraser's decision to amend his views was "entirely appropriate".

She added: "I think he voiced an opinion which he was brave enough and indeed absolutely correct to amend once he had seen first-hand evidence of what had been going on.

"When we all saw that footage we were all universally appalled. It was horrific and it was completely inexcusable and Murdo was uncompromising in his condemnation of that."

On the issue of an independence referendum, Miss Goldie said her party would continue to oppose the Scottish Government's 2010 referendum plans saying it would not settle the issue.

When asked if she would vote down the referendum bill in parliament, Miss Goldie responded: "My belief at the moment is that it does not serve the best interests of Scotland."

She said: "I have made clear that, in principle, I and my party will oppose a referendum on independence."

But when pressed on whether she would vote against the bill in 2010, the Scots Tory leader replied: "Yes".

"I do not support a referendum," she said.

Miss Goldie will address her party's two-day conference on Saturday afternoon.

The gathering also heard from UK Tory leader David Cameron.


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