John Swinney urges voters to put Scotland’s interests first

John Swinney has urged people to “vote SNP to put Scotland’s interests first” as he formally launched the party’s general election campaign. Mr Swinney told activists and candidates at a rally in Glasgow that Westminster decision-making had meant “austerity, Brexit and a cost of living crisis being imposed on Scotland”. Scotland’s first minister stressed his belief in independence as a way to ensure decisions about Scotland are made in Scotland.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said John Swinney’s “relaunch of a shambolic campaign” proved he was more interested in his party than the people. Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross accused Mr Swinney of “pandering to his Nationalist base and pitting Scot against Scot in a bid to break up the UK”. Meanwhile, Scottish Lib Dems leader Alex Cole-Hamilton also criticised the SNP’s continued push for a second independence referendum – insisting voters simply “don’t care”.

However, Mr Swinney has called on the public to back his party’s indy stance in the 4 July general election and use the vote as a direct way to remove the Conservatives from government. He said: “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 said he believes in “the politics of persuasion or, if that’s not possible, respectful disagreement”. He told 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 also highlighted what the he said the SNP had achieved in government, including:
free prescriptions the abolition of university tuition fees
free bus travel for under-22s
the Scottish Child PaymentJohn Swinney’s calculation is that a Labour win is already priced in for many in this election. At his launch event, he predicted that “the Tories are on course for a huge defeat, a wipeout”. The pitch is that the Tories are toast anyway, and Labour will have a big majority – so Scots don’t actually need to vote for Labour to achieve that. Indeed, he says they should vote for the SNP to keep Labour honest – to hold their feet to the fire.

He’s painting them as already being complacent – “they think Scotland is in the bag”.
The question is whether this message – that people can have a Labour government without actually voting Labour – will cut through with voters, compared to the rather more straightforward “change” narrative Sir Keir Starmer is selling.

Source: BBC

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