North Ayrshire's MP has hit out at the area's Conservative candidate for the next Westminster election after he published his list of key priorities if he's elected.

Todd Ferguson said he "fully endorsed" the priorities set out by the Scottish Conservatives at their spring conference in Aberdeen.

Those priorities include recruiting more police and more GPs and improving standards in local schools.

But the SNP's Patricia Gibson, who is hoping to win a fourth term representing the area, pointed out that even if he's elected, Mr Ferguson won't have the authority to implement most of his priorities - because they relate to powers that have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament for nearly 25 years.

Mr Ferguson, who is also a North Ayrshire councillor for the North Coast ward, says the Conservatives' manifesto would see two dozen extra police on the streets of the constituency.

He also said he was fully focussed on repairing and upgrading key roads in North Ayrshire and Arran and on cutting taxes for families.


But Ms Gibson accused her rival of trying to pull the wool over voters' eyes..

She said: “Once again, Mr Ferguson seems to think that voters are daft and won’t realise that each of the issues he raised are devolved to Holyrood, not the Parliament for which he is standing.

“Even in that context, promises of ‘24 additional police officers for North Ayrshire’ ring hollow. The deployment of police officers anywhere in Scotland is a matter for the Chief Constable, as laid out in the Police (Scotland) Act 1967, not politicians.

“As for ‘recruiting 1,000 more GPs’, a medical degree takes five years, after which newly qualified doctors must be trained, which takes a further three years. There are not 1,000 sitting around waiting to be recruited. If so, there wouldn’t be such a chronic shortage in England, where the Tories have been in office for 14 years.

"GP numbers in Scotland under the SNP are at a record high, and work is ongoing to increase them further.

“And Tory cuts year on year to Scotland’s budget mean that ‘pledges’ such as those made by Mr Ferguson must be paid for.

"Needless to say, the Tories made not a single amendment to the Scottish Budget on February 28, proposing funding for more police officers, GPs or anything else.

“Mind you, I understand why he doesn't want to talk about matters reserved to Westminster, since the Tories have made such a mess of the economy, Brexit, England’s NHS, housing, HS2, state pension inequality and foreign policy."

Ms Gibson suggested her Conservative rival was "simply rehearsing his lines for the next Scottish Parliament election", suggesting Mr Ferguson was hoping to replace party rival Jamie Greene on the Conservatives' regional list for the west of Scotland.

However, Mr Ferguson says the election, which is almost certain to be held before the end of this year, is a chance to "focus on Scotland’s real priorities and take Scotland forward from the SNP".

He added: "“As I campaign on the doorsteps in North Ayrshire and Arran these are the day-to-day issues that people are raising with me, not the SNP’s obsession with independence.

“Voters in North Ayrshire and Arran can send Humza Yousaf a message by voting for the Scottish Conservatives to get the focus onto your real priorities and take Scotland forward.”

Ms Gibson has represented the constituency at Westminster since 2015, when she unseated Labour's Katy Clark.

The next election must take place by January 28, 2025 at the latest, though in January, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said his "working assumption" was that he'd call the election "in the second half" of this year.