Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has said his party’s focus will be on “working Scotland”, as it looks to build an alternative to the SNP.
Ahead of the swearing in of MSPs on Thursday, Mr Ross wrote in the Scottish Daily Mail that his party will look to break the “yellow wall” of MSPs – which he described as former Labour strongholds in the central belt of Scotland.
The Scottish Tories returned 31 MSPs to Holyrood in last week’s election, the same number as in 2016, after most polls predicted they would lose seats.
Mr Ross’s assertions that his party will seek to create an alternative to the SNP echo those of Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, who said similar ahead of the election.
The Tory leader wrote: “The Scottish Conservatives are the only party capable of building and delivering a five-year strategy to remove the SNP.
“We believe the path to becoming Scotland’s real alternative lies in being the strong opposition that people all over the country, even many SNP voters, want.
“We will work constructively with any party who puts Scotland’s recovery first to deliver our agenda – but we will not shirk away from taking on the SNP. We know what we need to do to break the yellow wall.
“Breaking that yellow wall, making inroads to the SNP’s stranglehold on former Labour territory in the central belt, will mean more than winning over ‘middle Scotland’.”
Mr Ross said his party will push harder to win votes from those in “working Scotland”, adding: “That’s where we are gaining strength and where our future lies.”
SNP voters in the recent election, Mr Ross said, “hold conservative ideals” and can be persuaded over to his party.
“They value hard work and ambition, so they don’t recognise the SNP’s antibusiness agenda. They value free speech and fair justice, so the Hate Crime Act and treating criminals lightly appals them,” he wrote.
“They’re fiercely proud of our country, so they despise that our drug deaths are the worst in Europe – and Scotland’s shame.
“We know winning over those voters will be tough, but we are ready. We can beat the odds again.”
Mr Ross added that the Tories will have to become more than “the party of no to the SNP and indyref2”.