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David Mundell: We want to use devolution to take Scotland forward, not keep it in the past

Labour's Shadow Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy told Labour Conference that Labour's "journey back [to Downing Street] starts... in Manchester but the road runs through Scotland and Wales". 

What's he using to navigate? Gordon Brown's moral compass?

Maybe he knows that, with David Cameron in No. 10, Labour faces a long and meandering road back to power, if indeed it gets there at all.

Maybe he knows that, with the election of Ed Miliband, his party has started off driving in utterly the wrong direction.

At the Westminster election that has just passed, all of us in Scotland were disappointed not to have won more Conservative seats in Scotland to add to my own.
 
However, the number of Scots who voted for us was up more than 10 per cent on 2005.
 
That's now more than 410, 000 Scots voting Conservative.
 
But we saw heavy tactical voting against us in our target seats.
 
That shows the irrational fear that our opponents and the Scottish media establishment have succeeded in inculcating in large sections of the Scottish population.
 
And I'm afraid that with the Holyrood election looming, out has come the little book of Scottish Labour mythology once again.
 
We all know that job losses and cuts in Scotland are the legacy of the last Labour Government.
 
But for the Scottish Labour Party, everything represents a return to the 1980s.
 
Smart people in think tanks like to say that the current, SNP-led Scottish Government and the Labour-led one before it are small "c" conservative.
 
But I say that that's insulting to all conservatives!
 
The fact is that the Scottish Labour Party and the Scottish National Party are the reactionaries of British politics.
 
Not against change when it is unnecessary.
 
But against any change at all.
 
In Scotland, academy schools and foundation hospitals seem not like a tentative first step but rather a distant dream.
 
Now, Labour and the SNP have simply given up hope of ever having a novel idea between them.
 
They talk less about using devolution to create Scottish solutions to Scottish problems.
 
And more about using devolution to preserve answers to yesterday's problems...and sometimes even to questions that no-one was asking at all.
 
They want to use it resist reform and spending restraint.
 
Labour and the SNP just don't get it.
 
Already, they show signs of having decided to make their Scottish Parliament election campaigns all about opposing the things that we are doing at Westminster.
 
It is vital that we have a strong Conservative voice at Holyrood to fight against this twisted sense of what devolution is about.
 
I know that Annabel Goldie and her team of MSPs can win this fight to reclaim devolution as an instrument of progress.
 
I know too that they will continue to provide the ideas that Scottish politics so badly needs.
 
When everyone else was focussed on inflating the public sector, Annabel and her team were focussed on forcing the Scottish Government to cut business rates so that the private sector is able to lead the recovery. 
 
I am pleased to tell you that, thanks to our record in the Scottish Parliament and, better still, our first few months in government, the Scottish public are gradually waking up to the fact that the little book of Scottish Labour mythology is exactly that: just myths.
 
In Government:
 
we have closed the chapter on the divisive Scottish politics of the past and opened a new one based on mutual respect between Westminster and Holyrood;
 
we are delivering on the Calman proposals to strengthen devolution;
 
we are working with the Liberal Democrats in a broad-based government that enjoys a bigger electoral mandate in Scotland than the SNP Government at Holyrood. 
 
In the Scotland Office, I am proud to be at the centre of them all.
 
In a coalition government that is working not for narrow party interest, but instead together in the national interest.

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