Scotland politics

Election 2017: Labour 'creeping up' in polls, says Ruth Davidson

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Media captionScottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson admitted that Labour was "creeping up" to the Tories

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has defended Theresa May's qualities as a leader.

But Ruth Davidson conceded that Labour appear to be "creeping up" in opinion polls ahead of the general election.

She insisted the Tories were still polling higher than Tony Blair did in the Labour landslide of 1997.

Appearing on the BBC Scotland's Ask The Leader, Ms Davidson came under pressure from the audience on disability policy and the "rape clause".

Ms Davidson is the third Scottish party leader to appear on the programme in the week before the general election on 8 June.

She told the programme: "The biggest landslide in my political lifetime was Tony Blair in 1997 and he got 43% of the vote.

"The UK Conservative party is currently polling 45% of the vote which is even higher than the 1997 landslide."

But she added: "Jeremy Corbyn is creeping up. I think we've seen a fairly disastrous Lib Dem campaign, but polls quite often narrow before the vote."

Ms Davidson's appearance on the Ask The Leader programme came the day after the prime minister chose not to appear on the televised leaders' debate on Wednesday.

Image caption Ms Davidson came under pressure from audience members on Conservative policy on disability and child benefit

She denied Ms May was "crumbling" under pressure and said she was "absolutely not" a "wobbler".

Asked whether she thought Ms May was only good at sound bites and "weak and wobbly" when questioned, she said: "I think there's a question about what you want in a prime minister.

"If you want a reality TV star then look to America as that's what you've got in Donald Trump.

"But if you want a serious person of government, you've got one of the longest-serving home secretaries on record who's faced down terror threats in this country and has done again just in the last wee while."

There were a series of questions on Conservative policy on disability and cuts to benefits.

'Responsive benefit'

One audience member said that the "sentiment" towards the disabled since 2010 had been bad, with cuts in benefits not giving a message that the party "valued" disabled people.

But Ms Davidson said she wanted to enable people who wanted to work and remove any "barriers" they might face.

"My big message is I want to see the ability not the disability," she said.

"One of things we're trying to do is to make sure it's a more responsive benefit [Personal Independence Payment] that does help people and also it's about making sure that people have the help that they need.

"We don't want people to be left behind."

Ms Davidson was also questioned on the "rape clause", which is part of welfare changes that came into effect on 6 April.

The changes limit tax credits to the first two children in a family, with exceptions for adoptions, those involved in kinship care and for children born as a result of "non-consensual conception".

The Scottish Tory leader said the policy was "absolutely not" designed as a money saving technique and denied that asking women who had been raped to fill out the form would act as a "deterrent".

"They themselves don't have to fill out the form. That's why it's for other people to do it," she said.

"They don't have to bring forward evidence. They don't have to bring forward a crime report number. They don't have to bring forward any supporting convictions or anything like that.

"It's just about making sure that if they want extra financial support it's there for them."

She added: "If there's a way of doing it better then I want to hear it."

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