I MUST start this month’s column by paying tribute to my friend and colleague Ruth Davidson MSP who stood down as leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party last month.

Ruth transformed my party’s fortunes in Scotland by providing a real alternative for those voters who were fed up with the SNP and with independence, but no longer trusted Labour or the Liberal Democrats to stand firmly behind Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom.

Ruth changed many people’s views about what it means to be a Conservative and brought new and fresh talent to our party.

While she may be stepping down from her role as leader, she has clearly laid the foundations for a Scottish Conservative government after the next Holyrood elections.

Whoever leads my party into those elections, the message to voters will be clear: We want an end to constitutional division and a return to sensible government.

Earlier this month, we saw the announcement of the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government.

It is therefore a good time to reflect on the SNP’s record of delivering promises made in their previous programmes in recent years.

Research undertaken by the Scottish Conservatives showed that nearly 30 of these promises have not been delivered across all areas of devolved government. This is a truly shocking record of incompetence.

The SNP have fallen short on their pledge to narrow the attainment gap. They dropped an Education Bill that would have given more powers to headteachers, teachers and parents.

They have handed back welfare powers that they called for so loudly in the first place.

They have dropped their commitment to reduce air departure tax.

And some of their own councils are now talking about scrapping free personal care for under 65s only introduced last year.

Every year we get some bold promises and policies from the first minister but every year the SNP and the Scottish Government fail to deliver.

And what was the centrepiece of her legislative agenda this year? Was it raising attainment in our schools, more money for our hospitals, or putting more police on our streets? No. Of course it wasn’t.

Her key pledge was an attempt to force through another unwanted referendum on Scottish independence.

Once again, the Scottish Government’s focus is entirely wrong. While the SNP continue to obsess about independence, they are presiding over a Scottish economy that is performing worse than the rest of the UK.

The Scottish Government now faces a £1billion black hole as a result of poor financial management by the SNP.

The UK Government has even had to come to the rescue with a £1.2billion windfall announced by the chancellor, Sajid Javid.

People in Scotland have had enough division after two constitutional referendums in just five years.

We need to move back onto the real issues that matter to ordinary Scots. And that is exactly what the next Scottish Conservative government will do.