Douglas Ross insists the Scottish Conservatives would be “laser-focused” on guiding the country out of the coronavirus pandemic, should they be successful.
The Moray MP is hoping to become the fourth First Minister since the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 to hold dual mandates.
He spoke with The Falkirk Herald at the start of the election campaign which will see the party field local candidates Neil Benny (Falkirk East) and Stephen Kerr (Falkirk West).
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Mr Ross said: “After the last 14 years of the SNP being in power, there's been an awful lot of talk on independence referendums but not an awful lot of action on the issues people expect the parliament to be focusing on.
“We want to see a focus on education, so we'd recruit 3000 additional teachers. We would invest in a £550m scheme for community investment deals and help more local jobs be created and support businesses.
“If people want the Scottish Parliament to be laser-focused on our recovery and rebuilding after Covid, they can only achieve that by giving both votes to the Scottish Conservatives.
“We can prioritise what people in Falkirk are looking for, which is securing jobs coming out of this pandemic, ensuring every young person can go to a good school and get a good education, protecting our NHS and supporting the environment with policies on the green agenda.”
Michael Matheson, Falkirk West SNP candidate, said: “As Scotland's vaccine programme continues at pace, we now have a chance to choose to build back better from the pandemic, with progressive SNP policies like a National Care Service, 100,000 affordable homes, a digital device for every child and doubling the Scottish Child Payment to £20 a week.
“This election campaign has demonstrated as never before the SNP is the only party of government with the experienced leadership the people of Falkirk, and Scotland, deserve.
“Voters have the chance to decide who should be in charge of Scotland’s Covid recovery: a Scottish Government democratically elected by the people who live here or a Tory government at Westminster we didn't vote for, led by politicians like Boris Johnson.”
Labelling the Conservatives and SNP as “obsessed with division”, Ian Murray, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, said: “Scottish Labour is the only party guaranteed to focus on a national recovery plan that serves you and your family.
“We promise solutions which ensure Scotland comes back a fairer and stronger nation than the one that went into lockdown last year.”
Paul McGarry, Liberal Democrats candidate for Central Scotland, said: “Douglas Ross and the Scottish Conservatives are dark, negative and in decline.
“They have no plan for putting the recovery first, they just want to argue with the SNP about independence. Scottish Liberal Democrats want to put recovery first.”
Gillian Mackay, Greens candidate for Central Scotland, said: “A vote for the Scottish Greens is a vote for bold climate action, to build a fair and green recovery from the pandemic and put Scotland's future in Scotland's hands.”