It's great to be in Scotland. This is a nation with special ties to our party.
Balfour. Bonar Law. Douglas-Home. Three great Conservative Prime Ministers from Scotland. And I can't tell you how proud I am to be the first Conservative Prime Minister after fourteen long years back here in Scotland helping my friends in these vital election campaigns.
We have an important political fortnight in front of us. First up, the Holyrood elections. Now, Alex Salmond and Iain Gray think this election is all about them. Here's a novel idea: shouldn't this election be about Scotland and the Scottish people?
They don't want senseless mudslinging. They want straight talking and delivery on the issues that matter. It's only Conservatives who offer both. Let me tell you, there's no politician who tells it straight like Annabel Goldie. I should know - I've been on the receiving end of it myself. And let us tell the Scottish people - in the past four years, there's no party that works as hard for them in Holyrood like the Conservatives. More police on the streets. A freeze in council tax. Tax cuts for shops and small businesses. Help for first-time buyers.
So let's fight this election with every ounce of energy we've got. And let this be our message: common sense for the common good. The Conservatives stand ready to deliver, to serve and to give the people of Scotland the sensible, no-nonsense leadership they deserve.
WHAT WE HAVE DELIVERED FROM WESTMINSTER
And when you're making that case, remember: we are already bringing common sense leadership to all of the UK, including Scotland. If anyone ever asks you: what have the Conservatives ever done for me? Let them know. Let them know that while Labour left half a million Scots stuck on out-of-work benefits the Conservatives have come in, we're reforming welfare and making work pay.
Let them know that while Labour shamefully neglected pensioners the Conservatives have come in, restored the earnings link and are making our pensioners £15,000 better off over their retirement.
Let them know while Labour left a £38 billion black hole in the defence budget the Conservatives have not only come in and sorted out the mess but are also making sure that £5 billion of contracts for aircraft carriers - built in Scotland - are going ahead.
Who capped immigration? Who doubled the operational allowance for our troops in Afghanistan? Who cut corporation tax? Who has scrapped Labour's jobs tax, taken a million people out of income tax and cut fuel duty to help hard working families right across our country?
We did. Us. The Conservatives. Who is seeking to rebate fuel duty for people in the Hebrides and Northern Isles? We are. So with real confidence, let us say this to the great people of this great country: If you back enterprise, support the family, believe in real fairness and want more power over your life if you are a proud Scot, but also proud of our United Kingdom the Conservatives are the party for you.
Of course, the Holyrood elections aren't the only vote happening in May - there's also the AV referendum. I have a rule for debates like this: what would Winston Churchill think? Well, this is what he said about AV eighty years ago. He said: "it is the stupidest, the least scientific and the most unreal" of all the voting systems. He said it means elections "will be determined by the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates."
He knew - like we know - that AV is wrong for Britain.
It's wrong that candidates who come third can win elections.
It's wrong that the fifth choice of some Scottish Socialist voter can count as much as your first choice.
It's wrong that it lets lame-duck politicians cling on to power when the country doesn't want them.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
First Past the Post is a system that has served our democracy for centuries that is used by almost half the electors on the planet and that, yes - is simple, clear and decisive. AV is a system that is confusing, unclear and so obscure that it is only used by Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea. So I tell you: We must get the message out: No to AV and we must win this referendum.
RESPECT FOR SCOTLAND
This last time year, we were looking ahead to the General Election. I made some important pledges to the Scottish people. I said that if we were elected, we would govern Scotland with respect - and we are. I believe in the union - heart and soul. When I go and visit our troops in Afghanistan and walk into the naafi, I meet so many proud Scots fighting in our armed forces. Ok, there are plenty of jokes about the football and the rugby. But believe me, their passion when it comes to our armed forces and defending our country is inspiring. And there is absolutely nothing I will do to put those bonds between us in our United Kingdom in danger.
But these past few years have not been great for our Union, so I wanted our government to signal a fresh start. In my first week as Prime Minister, I came up to Scotland and met Alex Salmond - and have met him many more times since. Yes, we disagree on some big issues. But where we can work better together, we should.
The base for the British Irish council has been a long running irritant for the Scottish government. Sorted. I've agreed that the Secretariat of the British-Irish Council will be based in Edinburgh. Scotland's role in Europe matters. Sorted. I've arranged that Scottish Ministers are able to speak at European Council meetings on issues directly relevant to them.
All relationships come under pressure over - you guessed it - money. I have no magic wand, but I've ensured that the £130 million that the Scottish Government underspent last year can roll over into the Budget for this year. Like I said, real respect. But a real respect agenda isn't just about talking through these smaller issues, important as they are. It's about the big decisions you take - and we've made a very big one.
Before the last election all the parties supporting the Union came together to talk about how we could make devolution work better, make the Scottish Parliament more accountable for its spending and bring to an end the grievance culture that has grown in the past few years. What resulted was the Calman Commission. And now we're in government, we have kept our word and acting on its recommendations - and acting faster than many thought.
That's what I mean by real respect. Now, I know that some people worry that more tax powers means higher taxes. But the reality is that, when the Conservatives have their say, taxes can fall. Just look at what Annabel and her team have delivered over the last four years. A council tax freeze. And business rates cut or abolished for thousands of small firms. Small business and families better off because of the Scottish Conservatives. Only the Conservatives can be trusted on tax.
We also promised Scotland we would sort out the mess Labour made of the public finances. Remember what they left us with? A debt seven times bigger than the size of Scotland's GDP. Government borrowing one pound in every four it spent. Because of Labour's sheer recklessness with your money we spend more paying the interest on our debt than we do on schools, hospitals and police in Scotland. £120m every day that is the price of Labour's profligacy and let's not ever let them forget it. What a terrible waste of your money. And what a danger to our economy too.
Make no mistake, this time twelve months ago, this country risked a collapse in confidence with the higher interest rates, higher taxes, more bankruptcies and more job losses that brings. So when we hear Labour politicians saying we're cutting the deficit for ideological reasons or because we want to...we must say: No.
We're doing this because we have to, because you left our economy in a complete shambles and we will never, ever let the British people forget that. We are doing our duty to our country and generations to come who don't need to be saddled with Labour's debts. We are making the necessary cuts in public spending. And we are going about these unavoidable cuts in spending in a way that is fair and responsible.
So we've protected the families with the least - with an extra £180 in tax credits this year. We've protected the lowest earners - taking 92,000 Scots out of tax altogether. And we're also making sure the cuts we are making here are less than elsewhere in the UK.
Don't believe a word of what Alex Salmond says. The cuts here are less than they are in Northern Ireland. Less than they are in Wales. The plan we have set out is right. Confidence has returned to our economy. Our credit rating has been confirmed. And interest rates are staying low. Put another way, we are travelling along a road to a better future and we must see that journey through.
We also promised Scotland something else: an economy they could believe in. Ours was a promise to the printer in Prestwick, the shopkeeper in Stranraer, the internet entrepreneur in Inverness a promise that we would be on their side, not on their backs.
Ours was a promise to young graduates looking for well-paid jobs, to couple who want a better quality of life, to the people who want to be their own boss a promise that we would help them meet their goals. And here's one of the big arguments in British politics today, put plainly.
To achieve this economy, Labour say we just need to spend loads more money on big government programmes and the SNP say Scotland needs to become independent. Don't these people get it?
There is no more money to spend - it was you, Labour, who spent it all. And splitting up the United Kingdom would be a massive economic mistake. You don't build enterprise by setting up barriers at Scotland's borders.
So let it be this party that says, loud and clear: Together we are better off, combining the best of British enterprise with those great Scottish strengths world-leading centres of research, advanced manufacturing and electronics, great universities, highly skilled professional services, and much, much more. There is only one way we can build the new economy we all want to see. And that is to stick together as a country - and have an aggressive, pan-national drive to unleash enterprise. There's always been a rich entrepreneurial streak in this country and after years of being suffocated, taxed and regulated we are setting it free. Make no mistake: we are the optimists in British politics today.
When we look out from Aberdeen, we see an opportunity for Scotland to lead the world in renewable energy. So we are creating a new Green Investment Bank, with £250 million offered for projects in Scotland alone. And when we look across the Highlands, we see an area that can be part of the global economy. So we are investing in superfast broadband, connecting some of the remotest parts of Scotland to the world.
We see people who may be out of work, but who have great ideas and the potential to run their own companies. That's we've introduced a New Enterprise Allowance, which gives a package of support worth up to £2000 to help unemployed people start-up their own business. And we see nearly 300,000 small firms in Scotland, all with the potential to grow, invest and take people on if only government got off their backs.
So we're getting to grips with regulation, cutting the small profits rate and saying to any new business starting in Scotland - don't pay any tax on the first ten jobs you create. This great enterprising country finally has an enterprise government.
After years in the wilderness, these are exciting times to be a Conservative in Scotland. Labour have lost their way. The SNP offer more of the same. Fantasy economics and unaffordable spending plans.
We - however - are back in government and have a real case to make to the Scottish people. Be part of what we're doing.
Be part of a country - the United Kingdom - that is a beacon for progress, justice and compassion that is meeting its aid promise to the world's poor, gaining influence in Africa and Asia that sits on the UN Security Council, is a member of NATO, and is at the forefront of Europe in leading the response to the crisis in Libya.
Be part of an economy that is the sixth richest in the world that promises not just any growth, but green growth, sustainable growth, growth across every part of our island that gives everyone with the will and work ethic the chance to get on.
Be part of a society which can grow bigger and stronger with each passing day where families are backed and communities are strengthened where all of us, as individuals, look out for one another.
Yes, the decisions we need to take to get there will be difficult. But Scotland can be such a big part of it.
So let that be our argument: Be part of a more prosperous Britain. A stronger Britain. A better Britain.