Swinney urges voters ‘to put Scotland’s interests first’ as he launches SNP campaign

Swinney to urge voters ‘to put Scotland’s interests first’

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John Swinney will urge people to “vote SNP to put Scotland’s interests first” as he formally launches the party’s general election campaign.

Mr Swinney will tell activists and candidates at a rally in Glasgow later that Westminster decision-making has meant “austerity, Brexit and a cost of living crisis being imposed on Scotland”.

Scotland’s first minister will stress his belief in independence as a way to ensure decisions about Scotland are made in Scotland.

The Scottish Conservatives said Mr Swinney had “abandoned any pretence that he is a fresh start” and accused him of making a “desperate defence of the SNP’s dreadful record in government”.

The Scottish Lib Dems have also criticised the SNP’s continued push for a second independence referendum – insisting voters simply “don’t care”.

However, the SNP leader will call on voters to back his party’s indy push in the 4 July general election as a direct way to remove the Conservatives from government.

Mr Swinney is expected to say: “A combination of Westminster cuts and Brexit has reduced the money available for the NHS, other public services and housing.

“Brexit alone has wiped billions from the Scottish economy compared with EU membership. And it’s pushed up food and other household costs.

“Given the UK is moving so badly in the wrong direction I would be failing in my duty if I did not set out what I believe is a better future for Scotland.”

Following his election as first minister last month, Mr Swinney called for more respect to be shown in Scottish politics.

Looking ahead to the UK-wide general election, he will say that he believes in “the politics of persuasion or, if that’s not possible, respectful disagreement”.

He will tell those at the rally that “in our wonderful, diverse, inspiring country” everyone should have a chance to get on in life.

“It’s why I believe so strongly in eradicating child poverty,” the first minister will say.

“At this election it is those principles that will guide my approach. So I am asking people to vote SNP to remove the Tories from government.

“I’m asking people to vote SNP to put Scotland’s interests first. I’m asking people to vote for a future made in Scotland, for Scotland.”

Mr Swinney will also highlight what the he says the SNP has achieved in government – including free prescriptions, the abolition of university tuition fees, free bus travel for under-22s and the Scottish Child Payment.

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Speaking on BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show, Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole- Hamilton said his party was not talking about independence during this campaign “because literally no-one on the doorsteps is talking about it – they don’t care”.

He added: “We don’t believe there should be a second referendum – it’s not salient to people right now.

“People want to talk about getting access to a GP at the first time of asking, or NHS dentists in their locality.

“They want to talk about taking the sewage out of our rivers and lifting up Scottish education to where it used to be.”

‘Real priorities’

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said voters wanted a government “focused on their real priorities”.

He said: “Thanks to his party and their independence obsession, 840,000 Scots are on an NHS waiting list, schools have tumbled down international comparison tables, we have the lowest numbers of police officers since 2008 and savage cuts to local services.

“All this comes despite Scotland having the largest UK block grants in history and the highest taxes of any part of the UK.

“The future Scots want is with a government focused on their real priorities, which means removing the SNP.

“And in key seats up and down the country, only the Scottish Conservatives can beat the SNP and end their independence obsession.”

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