Scotland Vote 2011: Devolved elections campaign round-up

Ed Jacobs looks at all the key issues, policies and dividing lines between the leaders and parties in the Scottish Parliament elections tomorrow.

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With voters due to elect new devolved bodies tomorrow, Left Foot Forward rounds up the guest articles carried over the past few weeks from the devolved nations and looks back at the week’s campaigning.

Writing exclusively for Left Foot Forward, SNP leader and Scottish first minister, Alex Salmond argued that it was only his party that had “the team and the vision to take us forward together to a wealthier, healthier, fairer, greener and independent future”. He continued by highlighting a number of areas in which the SNP would pursue a course radically different to Westminster. Writing on tuition fees for example, he argued:

“I have given the cast-iron guarantee that no Scots students will face tuition fees to study at Scottish universities as long as there is an SNP government.

“To those who ask how we can afford to keep university education free, I ask how can we afford not to?”

For Labour meanwhile, the focus of the campaign remains firmly centred on youth employment, with the party’s campaign manager, John Park explaining:

“One of our most important pledges to the people of Scotland is to completely abolish youth unemployment by 2015. We’ll bring back the future jobs fund in Scotland and guarantee an apprenticeship to every qualified school-leaver who wants one.

“Not only will we abolish youth unemployment, but by building Scotland’s skills base and driving investment into our industries, Labour has set out plans to create 250,000 jobs in the next ten years.”

He continued:

“The fundamental difference between us and the SNP is that they don’t have a plan to create jobs for young people. They don’t have a blueprint to create a modern Scotland where our young people have the opportunity to get on.”

In a sign meanwhile that the campaign across Scotland has stepped up a gear, Labour aimed its fire squarely at the SNP’s pet project of independence, with the party’s leader at Holyrood, Iain Gray arguing:

“I know what investors will say when the prospect of profound change to our economy, our tax regime, our currency and our financial sector is at question.

“Get back to us when you’ve made up your mind. Well, we need that investment now.”

Alex Salmond responded with a typically abrasive attack on Labour, arguing:

“Labour have abandoned their losing 2011 campaign theme of focusing on Westminster, and are reverting instead to their losing 2007 campaign of bashing the people’s right to vote on independence in a referendum.”

As polling meanwhile indicated a slight narrowing of the SNP lead over Labour, writing for YouGov, Peter Kellner concluded with a warning:

“Recent movements have been so sharp that Labour must hope that volatility works for them in the final days of this campaign, and that most voters who think of themselves as basically Labour will return home – prompted, perhaps, by Labour’s local ability, demonstrated last May, to get its vote out. But if these things don’t happen, Labour is heading for a bad defeat.”

Meanwhile, with the Liberal Democrats likely to face heavy losses on election day, the party’s leader in Scotland, Tavish Scott, sought to put as much distance between him and the Conservatives as possible, arguing of his colleagues’ decision to enter a coalition in Westminster:

“They had to ensure we didn’t have a Tory government that burned Scotland at the stake, and this is potentially what could have happened.”

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