LAST week, the Scottish National Party's former Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, introduced the first minister before she took to the stage at their party conference in Glasgow.

He confidently told the assembled SNP delegates that the party was committed to delivering a second independence referendum as soon as they can.

Mr Robertson and the first minister therefore reaffirmed their support for a policy that was so unpopular with voters that it cost him and twenty of his colleagues their seats at the most recent general election.

This continued obsession with separation and their lack of focus on the important issues that face Scotland are having a detrimental impact on the delivery of our public services and our economy.

In last three months, UK growth has outstripped Scotland's by three times and Scotland's economy has underperformed the rest of the UK in four out of the last five quarters.

The Scottish Government need to consider seriously its approach to supporting our economy, which will have a greater effect on our public services with the Scottish Parliament's new powers.

The Scottish Conservatives are taking a level-headed approach to these concerns and have set up an expert panel led by former Scotland Office Minister Lord Dunlop to inform our party policies in this area.

The Scottish National Party seem to be set on making things worse, however. Recent reports in the media have suggested that the Scottish Government are considering significant changes to Scotland's tax bands and are reviewing the rates paid by those in higher tax bands.

After failing to pass on increases in the income threshold for middle-income taxpayers, the SNP has already set about making Scotland the highest-taxed part of the UK and further hikes would simply hit hard-working families up and down the country.

In order to get his budget passed at Holyrood, the cabinet secretary for finance will need the support of a minor opposition party—all of which support tax rises. Labour and the Liberal Democrats want to see an increase in the basic rate of income tax, which would impact those who can least afford it with more than 80 per cent of Scottish taxpayers paid between £11,500 and £43,000. The Greens want to drive wealth creators out of Scotland entirely by introducing a punitively high top rate of income tax.

Labour recently put forward a motion to the Scottish Parliament that advocated income tax increases, which was supported by the Greens and the Liberal Democrats. In the clearest indication yet that the SNP are lurching to left, they failed to oppose Labour's motion and simply abstained.

The reasons often given for such changes are that they raise extra revenue for public services but, at present, Scotland spends much more on its public services than the UK average while, in many cases, we have poorer outcomes. We in the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party believe in competitive taxation that will grow our economy, boost investment and increase tax revenue.