Scotland’s political parties hit the streets yesterday, beginning a six-week pitch to voters who could hold the key to the final general election result.
The people of Scotland may prove crucial in deciding the outcome of the Westminster election on 7 May, with opinion polls continuing to suggest that the SNP could poach dozens of the country’s 59 seats from Labour.
Key figures from both of those parties chose the East End of Glasgow to launch their respective campaigns yesterday, while the Liberal Democrats toured East Dunbartonshire and the Conservatives visited Edinburgh.
Joining activists at the Fort shopping centre in Glasgow, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said she intended to join forces with other “progressive parties” at Westminster to “work for the common good for hard-pressed families across the UK”.
Although the party lost last year’s independence referendum, support for the SNP has soared in Scotland. Ed Miliband has ruled out a formal deal with the nationalists, but many analysts still believe that a Labour-SNP coalition is the most likely outcome of the election.
“We will work to deliver the power we were promised in the referendum – to enable us to grow our economy and tackle poverty, making our country a fairer, more equal place for everyone who lives here,” Ms Sturgeon added. “By electing a strong team of SNP MPs, the people of Scotland can hold real power and deliver real change.”
Four miles away, the former prime minister Gordon Brown addressed activists alongside his Labour colleague Margaret Curran at Calton Parkhead Parish Church, which operates a food bank for impoverished local residents.
Pledging an extra £800 million for the Scottish NHS – which he said would be raised from a bank bonus tax, mansion tax and reforms to corporation tax – Mr Brown said his party’s focus would be on “the desperate need to create more jobs, improve the NHS [and] tackle the scandal of poverty” in Scotland.
“While others want to talk about coalitions, deals, pacts, hung parliaments…we will spend all our time discussing with the people what really matters: poverty, unemployment, deprivation, bad housing, inequality and the neglect of the NHS,” he added.
In Edinburgh, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson declared that her party would take on the “lazy, complacent central belt establishment” of Labour and the SNP, which she claimed “still thinks it knows best”.
She added that she would prefer to see the Conservatives rule as a minority government instead of entering into another coalition if it fails to win a majority. “A Tory majority doesn’t look likely right now...but we are working towards it,” she said.
In another part of the capital, the Scottish Greens launched their manifesto, which included pledges to raise the minimum wage to £10, nationalise the railways and devolve power to local communities.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats, whose leader Willie Rennie chose to visit East Dunbartonshire candidate Jo Swinson, promised to “cut less than the Conservatives and borrow less than Labour and the SNP”.
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