Shropshire Star

Swinney: I have reunited the SNP and will take positive message to Scots

The First Minister will fight the General Election campaign just weeks after taking on the top job in Scottish politics.

John Swinney

John Swinney said he has reunited the SNP after a “tough time” as he vowed to use the General Election campaign to “speak up for Scotland”.

The First Minister will fight the campaign just weeks after taking on the top job, and said he will take a “positive message” to people across the country.

He insisted he has reunited his party following divisions which emerged during the 2023 leadership campaign, which was won by Humza Yousaf but he only served in the post for 13 months before quitting.

The last 12 months have also seen dramatic developments in the ongoing police investigation into the SNP finances, while Mr Swinney and other senior figures in the Scottish Government, including former first minister Nicola Sturgeon, have come in for criticism for deleting WhatsApp messages during the Covid pandemic.

(PA Graphics)

Mr Swinney told BBC Breakfast: “The SNP has had a tough time over the last 12 months or so,” before saying he has brought the party “back together again in two very short weeks”.

He continued: “I’m just into the party leadership, I have been SNP leader for about two-and-a-half weeks and obviously bringing fresh leadership to the party.

“I have brought the party together already, the SNP is a united political party, we are uniting to lead Scotland and we are uniting to campaign for Scottish independence.”

He said he will now “use that unity to take a positive message around the country” ahead of the election on July 4, arguing the SNP can “protect” Scotland from “foolish and foolhardy decisions at Westminster, like austerity and Brexit and the cost-of-living crisis”.

Mr Swinney said he believes that message will “resonate to people the length and breadth of the country”.

Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator Pat McFadden said his party is ‘in good shape in Scotland’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

With some polls now showing Labour ahead of the SNP in Scotland, he conceded: “We have got challenges in this election campaign, I accept that,” but he said his party will be “going out there to win leadership in Scotland”.

He said the election has been called “sooner than expected”, but the SNP has candidates in place for all 57 seats in Scotland and its manifesto is “well advanced”.

He said: “We are hitting the road today to start the election campaign, so we are ready to go.

“I’ll be out and about around the country, I intend to take my message to every part of the country, I am the First Minister of all of Scotland and I intend to be present in every part of Scotland, taking a positive message about the fact that Westminster has inflicted significant damage on the people of Scotland through austerity, Brexit and the cost-of-living crisis.

“The way out of that is for Scotland to be a country that takes our own decisions as an independent country.

“People know that they can rely on the SNP to put Scotland first, that’s what will be central to our election campaign.”

(PA Graphics)

Meanwhile, Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator Pat McFadden said his party is “in good shape in Scotland”.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme Labour “might have a few” candidates to select, but added: “If there’s anything like that to do we’ll do it in the next few days.”

Stressing Labour is taking nothing for granted in the election, he added: “We assume nothing, but the really critical thing is that power of the vote in Scotland to send much more than a message, to actually be part of sending a Labour government to Westminster.”

Asked about the prospect of deals in the event of a hung parliament, Mr McFadden insisted: “We are not doing any deals, the aim is for a majority.

“We know that that’s ambitious but we want to bring stability to the country, and I believe that voters in Scotland have got a critical role to play in this.”

Douglas Ross said the Tories can beat the SNP in ‘crucial seats’ north of the border (Jane Barlow/PA)

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said his party will “take the fight to the SNP”.

He told Good Morning Scotland the Tories will “beat the nationalists in crucial seats up and down Scotland”.

He added the election is “about improving our education system, investing in the NHS, it’s about growing our economy, creating good jobs”, adding: “In crucial seats it’s going to be a very close fight between the Scottish Conservatives and the SNP.

“Every party has been urging the Prime Minister to call the election, he has now done that, we are going to the country on July 4 and in the next six weeks, I will be out with my candidates up and down the country who are taking the fight to the SNP in these key seats, because they know the local priorities in their constituencies.

“They know that voters are fed up with John Swinney and the SNP’s obsession with independence.”

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