Day One On The Scottish Campaign Trail

30 March 2015, 19:01

Scotland's political parties have hit the campaign trail as the battle to win at Westminster officially began today.

Key figures from Labour and the SNP were attempting to persuade voters in Glasgow's east end while the Liberal Democrats were out in East Dunbartonshire.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson began her campaign in Edinburgh ahead of the May 7 poll.

The city was also the venue for the Greens' manifesto launch.

Parliament was formally dissolved after the Prime Minister had an audience with the Queen, while a proclamation was read out at Mercat Cross in Edinburgh telling voters that a General Election had been called.

Polls continue to suggest the SNP could win dozens of Scotland's 59 seats and hold the balance of power at Westminster.

Joining party activists at the Fort shopping centre in Glasgow, leader Nicola Sturgeon said a vote for the SNP was an opportunity to end austerity, reject the renewal of Trident and win ''real power'' for Scotland.

"It matters to people in Scotland that good decisions are made at Westminster - and that's exactly why the SNP will join with other progressive parties to work for the common good for hard-pressed families across the UK,'' she said.

''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.

''By electing a strong team of SNP MPs, the people of Scotland can hold real power and deliver real change.``

Former Labour leader Gordon Brown - who has stepped down as an MP - was also in Glasgow. He joined Scottish Labour colleague Margaret Curran to address an audience of activists.

He said: ''This election is not only about constitutional change but about the social changes and the economic changes that are urgently needed to start the day after the election - the desperate need to create more jobs, improve the NHS, tackle the scandal of poverty in our midst and reduce inequality now.

''So, while others want to talk about coalitions, deals, pacts, hung parliaments, confidence and supply motions - insider Westminster talk - 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.''

Earlier this month, Ed Miliband ruled out a formal coalition with the SNP following a Tory campaign warning that he was planning to form a government after the election with the help of the party, but he failed to rule out an informal agreement.

At the campaign launch in Edinburgh, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said people who voted No in the independence referendum deserved to know Labour's intentions.

''They deserve to know if a deal is being cooked up between the Labour Party and the SNP to give the SNP powers over a UK government when they're a nationalist party whose stated aim is to destroy and get rid of the United Kingdom,'' she said.

Ms Davidson said she would prefer to see the Tories rule as a minority government instead of entering into another coalition if it fails to win a majority, adding that the 2010 coalition with the Lib Dems had been needed in a time of "national crisis''.

She said: 'I think I would prefer a minority government and we've seen in Scotland how that can work.

''A Tory majority doesn't look likely right now ... but we are working towards it, and we will continue to do so.

''We have seen, not least in Scotland in 2011, that the last six weeks can completely change the numbers. There is a lot of politics to go between now and May 7.''

The Scottish Greens were also in Edinburgh to launch their manifesto, including pledges to raise the minimum wage to £10, nationalise the railways and devolve power to local communities.

Co-convenor Patrick Harvie MSP said: ''Everyone is tired of the same old Westminster politics.

''Scotland is ready for change and people are eager to vote for ideas they can believe in."

The Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign tour was kicked off by leader Willie Rennie with a visit to East Dunbartonshire candidate and Business Minister Jo Swinson.

He said: "Our priorities for a stronger economy and a fairer society are distinctly liberal priorities.

"They put a stop to the see-saw economics of the past and allow us to create opportunity for all.

"We will cut less than the Conservatives and borrow less than Labour and the SNP.

"With Liberal Democrats in government, you don't have to choose between a stronger economy or a fairer society. You can have both.''

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