David Mundell’s speech to conference

 Scotland Office Minister David Mundell MP said:

“The referendum has been a campaign like no other. It has been long and hard fought – waged in every community, on every doorstep and in each and every living room all across Scotland.

Last Thursday we saw an unprecedented turnout, the streets of Scotland were abuzz with campaigners and volunteers, young and old. Yes and No. Fighting for every single vote and setting out their respective visions for Scotland.

I have never been prouder or more humbled as a politician than during this campaign. To see our democracy reinvigorated, working as it should and to have the opportunity to listen to the passionate arguments made by people all across Scotland.

It has been a real honour to pound the streets, knock on doors and debate alongside dedicated people of all political persuasions and none, who have given their time and energies over the last two years to ensure Scotland got the debate it deserved.

I think particularly of young people all across Scotland who were voting for the first time, who grasped the responsibility with both hands and took this referendum debate seriously.

Many simply by listening carefully to the arguments being made and making up their own minds.

Others by helping deliver hundreds of leaflets and speaking out to make sure their friends and classmates were kept informed. 

And of course the dedicated few who were so heavily involved by the end of the campaign that they even took the day off school to help with the final push.

Ladies and gentlemen, we can all be extremely proud of the role these young people played.

They did not disappoint us during this campaign and we cannot afford to disappoint them now.

The same goes for the many hundreds of first-time campaigners who played their full part.  Patriotic people from all walks of life who recognised that this cause was just too important to leave it up to others.  People who had never telephone canvased before or knocked on a single door in their life. People who willingly gave up their evenings and weekends because they knew this was no normal election – who understood that the outcome mattered like never before.

And of course we cannot forget our stalwarts, our party activists and supporters who were there through thick and thin.

The proud people who continue fighting day in, day out for our Conservative ideals in Scotland. Whether that is saving the Union or supporting our Government in taking the difficult decisions to get our deficit down.

Because of their efforts and support, we can be very proud of the role we played as a Party in this campaign. Proud of what we have achieved together. Proud of the strengthened position we find ourselves in as we move forward and seek to shape the future of the debate in Scotland; and throughout our United Kingdom.

It has been hard work and it hasn’t always been easy. And every single one of us in this room are indebted to the volunteers who knocked on doors across Scotland. Volunteers like Pat who campaigned alongside me, who remained cheery even when the polls looked challenging and when both the campaign and the rain looked like they would never end.

Who never gave up hope of something better, something bigger than ourselves and who was determined to make sure that future generations and the young people of today continue to enjoy the best opportunities.

Dedicated individuals, who encapsulated the spirit of our party and everything that puts the Great into Britain. Never deterred or disheartened from standing up for what is right.

People like Pat, who even when fellow No supporters told her they were scared to put up posters for fear of abuse and vandalism – refused to cower away and let a small and vocal minority dominate the debate.

In the face of adversity she simply redoubled her efforts, squeezed yet another car sticker onto the small back window of her own Fiat 500 and found 5 more minutes to knock on one more door.

But conference, let’s not forget it is not just on the No side of this referendum campaign that we saw and heard these stories of our democracy in action.

Indeed, one of the many highlights of my own referendum campaign was taking part in a participatory public debate in my constituency. A debate organised by a small group of local Yes Campaigners who clubbed together to hire out the village hall.

Having attended other heated and lively public debates – they wanted to do something different. Tired of the rhetoric from both campaigns they wanted to enable a discussion that allowed everyone, not just politicians to air their views. The final meeting was not just balanced, it was civil and most importantly it showed that whilst our politics may be divided our communities really do work best when they come together.

We owe it to all of these people, and the millions more they represent to build a better future. We owe it to every single one of them to deliver on the promises we have made.

And I know that we in Scottish Conservatives will be there fight hard on behalf of and alongside all of them.

Because that is what we have done under Ruth Davidson’s leadership since day one of this campaign.

And that is why it is impossible to talk about the role our party played in this campaign without mentioning her name.

Make no mistake – Ruth has been a game changer and the true champion for Scotland’s interests in this debate.

No one individual has done more or spoken up louder for our country or our party in this debate.

And for that we owe Ruth a great debt of gratitude.

You will hear from her in just a moment but before you do I want to take this opportunity to thank Ruth on behalf of the whole party for the courageous leadership and unquestioning resolve she has shown.

For the work she has done to ensure a more secure and more prosperous future for each and every one of us.

Ruth not only led the charge when it came to squaring up to the challenges of nationalism but she redefined the debate and set out the strong Conservative case for a more powerful Scottish Parliament with the additional powers needed to deliver the increased accountability the people of Scotland want to see.

Throughout this campaign she has worked tirelessly to demolish the lazy stereotypes about our party in Scotland, reaching out to new and first time voters young, and old. Leading our party, our supporters and the people of Scotland from the ground up. From day one of the campaign through to the small hours of Friday morning no one was fighting Scotland’s corner harder. 

Far from practising the politics of difference and division – Ruth was loudly and proudly standing up for a vision of our United Kingdom, a United Kingdom with Scotland at its heart and centre.

A union of nations, a people United all working hard and pulling together to deliver a better and more prosperous future for all. It would have been all too easy to serve as an apologist for the mistakes of the past. To make only the light touch economic arguments that spoke for themselves. Instead, Ruth articulated what so many of us wanted to hear – the arguments of both the head and heart, which are so often the same thing.

Scotland has spoken. The result was decisive and we can be very proud of the role our party played.  However, we must also be mindful because the job is not yet done.

Our task now is very clear – we must work together to deliver the additional powers the people of Scotland have been promised.

Not as some consolation prize, or even as a retirement gift for Alex Salmond.

But because it is the right thing to do. And the only thing to do.

Thank you.”