The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has vowed to “stop nationalism for good” in a keynote speech to the Tory conference.

Douglas Ross accused Nicola Sturgeon of turning the Scottish Government into an offshoot of the Yes campaign, and said his party was taking the reigns in appealing to working class Scots in a direct challenge to Scottish Labour.

Addressing a packed room at the party’s conference in Manchester, Mr Ross said Labour had been destroyed in Scotland, and the so-called red wall would never return.

He was joined at the fringe event by MSPs Meghan Gallagher, Sharon Dowey and Craig Hoy.

Mr Ross said: “Scottish Labour are a party of the past. The red wall has gone for good. Labour took people for granted and their voters have moved on.”  

The Scottish Conservatives leader said: “In May’s election, more working-class Scots voted Scottish Conservatives than Labour.

“Those voters aren’t, as Angela Rayner would, say ‘vile’. They aren’t ‘nasty’. They aren’t ‘scum’.

“They are just normal Scots looking for a party that can stand up to the SNP.

“They are people like me, my family and my community.”

He said his party would next go after the SNP’s voters, saying the subsequent wall to fall would not be red, but “SNP yellow”.

Mr Ross continued: “Nicola Sturgeon has become detached from working class communities scarred by drug deaths and marred by all the other failings that her government is too distracted to tackle.

“She has become out of touch, talking down to everyone who doesn’t speak at her supposedly ‘higher level of intelligence’.”

He accused Ms Sturgeon of turning the Scottish Government into a “subsidiary of Yes Scotland”, explaining: “Increasingly, their campaign is utterly divorced from the views and needs of the majority of their countrymen and women.

“Nicola Sturgeon has turned the Scottish Government into a subsidy of Yes Scotland, an organisation staffed by loyalists, built to deliver independence.

“It’s not a government anymore. It’s a constitutional campaign group on stilts.”

Mr Ross also reaffirmed previous party commitments to introduce a bill, dubbed Mackay's law, to enable constituents to oust MSPs who are not 'doing their job'.

It is named after disgraced finance secretary Derek Mackay, who had to resign after he was discovered messaging a teenage boy on social media.

Mr Ross added: "In no other job could someone pocket a six figure salary while hiding at home.  So why would we stand for it in the Scottish Parliament?"

He said his party were also planning to "restore powers to our communities" with a Local Government Powers and Protection Bill.

He explained: "This SNP Government wants to strip councils of powers and funding.

"To overrule community planning objections, ring fence more of their budget, and centralise decision making.

"An approach the SNP would attack as a power grab if taken by the UK Government.

"As a local councillor for 10 years, I saw the direct impact national cuts from the Scottish Government have at a local level.

"I saw the services that working people rely on most, that it seems this SNP government are happy to dismiss.

"And I saw that communities know how to improve their area.

"That is why we will introduce a new Local Government Powers and Protection Bill to put local people first.

"In introducing these laws, we are challenging the SNP to back these Scottish Conservative plans - or tell taxpayers why they should go to work to pay for an MSP who won’t."

Asked about the UK Government’s cuts to Universal Credit, and why his party did not oppose it, Mr Ross repeated the often-used line that the plans were always supposed to be “temporary”.

Campaigners, charities, opposition politicians and even members of the Conservatives have said the Chancellor should rethink the plans to cut the £20 a week rise to the benefit, which was introduced at the start of the pandemic.

Mr Ross said: “I and my Scottish Conservative colleagues and colleagues across the country campaigned vigorously for that to be extended while we were still living under the tightest of restrictions.

“But it is right as we move through this pandemic, and we get back to life as normal as much as possible, that we look at the support that is available.”

He said that funds announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week, £41m of which will go to Holyrood ministers, should be spent on helping the most vulnerable.

He said: “It's also important to remember that just this week, the Chancellor announced an extra half a billion pounds of support to help the most vulnerable in the United Kingdom through what might be very difficult months ahead - and £41 million of that will go to Scotland.

“Nicola Sturgeon didn't explain at all this week how that will be delivered to the most vulnerable in Scotland.

“I'd like to hear more about using the powers and funding we have in Scotland to deliver that money. And crucially, on the Universal Credit uplift, if the SNP are so sure that this is not the right approach to take - use of the powers they have at the moment.”