General election blog: Promises, promises. What can the Tories deliver for Scotland?

Prime Minister David Cameron and Leader of the Scottish Conservative and Union Party Ruth Davidson Photo: ITV Border

It's what party election manifestos are all about.

Promises, promises.

Voters may be sceptical about whether politicians keep their word, as well they might be.

But politicians, of all parties, place enormous store on their pledges to the electorate.

They spend a lot of time writing and re-writing, honing and polishing their offer to voters.

Today's Scottish Tory manifesto, launched by David Cameron and Ruth Davidson, had been suitably buffed up.

And the Prime Minister and the Scottish party leader gave suitably polished performances today unveiling their plans at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.

The Prime Minister and the Scottish party leader gave suitably polished performances Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Mind you, they were in front of an audience of party activists and the media were only given limited time to question them.

Our time to scrutinise the small print was limited, but in that the Tories are no different from the other parties.

The big picture message from Mr Cameron was that with Labour under pressure from the SNP - as polls consistently suggest - the two could form a "coalition of chaos".

And the only way to stop Ed Miliband getting to No 10 and being held ransom by the SNP was...well you guessed vote Conservative.

It was a message reinforced by Ms Davidson who belligerently vowed the Tories were "coming for the SNP and for Labour".

Ruth Davidson vowed the Conservatives are Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

There is a problem with this, however.

Most, if not all, of the seats the Tories have a realistic prospect of winning are held by the Liberal Democrats.

Nevertheless, it was fighting talk which went down well with the activists.

Taking the fight to the SNP, the party was emphasising it's full official name: "The Scottish Conservative and unionist party."

The manifesto contains a raft of pretty radical proposals.

On education, for example, allowing parents or charities to set up schools.

They will offer 'opportunity vouchers' so parents can send their child to the state school of their choice, with the money following the pupil.

In health they say they'd fund 1,000 more nurses by reintroducing prescription charges for those who can afford to pay them.

The Scottish Conservative manifesto says the party would fund 1,000 more nurses by reintroducing prescription charges for those who can afford to pay them Credit: PA

But there's a big problem here for the Tories.

Control over all of these policies - and many more domestic issues - is devolved to the Scottish parliament.

Ms Davidson did accept these aspects of policy were for the next Holyrood election, but claimed the manifesto showed "where we are heading".

However, if voters vote Conservative in Scotland at this general election, the Tories cannot deliver these policies as they are outside Westminster's remit.

Which brings us back to the big argument which Mr Cameron was seeking to make - over the constitution and the economy, which do apply to Scotland.

His case was that Labour is fiscally irresponsible, and their prospective backers in the SNP even more so.

Now Labour say they won't go into a coalition with the SNP but has not ruled out a possible informal deal if Ed Miliband fails to win an outright majority.

The SNP has also ruled out a formal deal with Labour, but suggested they might support them vote-by-vote if the Nationalists hold the balance of power.

Those positions, so far at least, do leave some vote-by-vote wriggle room in which the SNP might just help Mr Miliband form a government.

The Tories, by way of a contrast, say they will not do any kind of deal with the people who, as they put it, want to "break up Britain" and would, in their view, break the economy.

So after the slick launch and the polished speeches, what realistically are the Tories prospects in Scotland?

Credit: ITV Border

They currently hold one seat, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, which they are working hard to retain.

Also in the south of Scotland they have high hopes in Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, currently held by the Liberal Democrats.

Beyond that they are eyeing up Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine, also held by the Lib Dems.

If they won three seats it would, they hope, put an end to the barbs from their opponents about their being more pandas in Scotland than Tory MPs.

And if they won more than that we would probably see Ms Davidson doing cartwheels on the landscaped grounds outside the Scottish parliament on 8 May.

That would be worth seeing.

It is not true to say that no-one in Scotland votes Tory.

At the last UK election 412,855 people did - 16.7% of the vote. The SNP managed 491,386 or 19.9%.

of voters in Scotland voted Conservative at the last general election
of voters in Scotland voted SNP at the last general election

The big test for the Tories is whether they can increase the total, the percentage and - most importantly in a first-past-the-post system - their seat tally.

And that will depend on whether voters north of the Border believe the promises, promises made today.