Swinney to urge Scots to make their vote count amid tight races

Scotland’s First Minister will urge voters to turn out on Thursday as he warns some seats will be decided “by only a handful of votes”.

Mr Swinney will use a speech on Wednesday evening to deliver a final message to voters in Scotland ahead of ballots being cast on Thursday.

The election in England, he will reiterate, is a “foregone conclusion”, while results in Scotland are “on a knife edge”.

The campaign between the SNP and Scottish Labour – currently engaged in a two-way race for top spot in Scotland – is one of “genuine, competing visions of the future”, he will say.

The SNP leader will also seek to stress how tight some races north of the border are, urging voters to turn out.

“There are seats that could be decided by only a handful of votes,” he is expected to say.

“Be certain about one thing – your vote will matter. It could make all the difference.

“The election in Scotland is the only place where there are genuine, competing visions of the future at stake – a real contest of ideas and values.

“Labour are offering Scotland more of the same and picking up where the Tories left off.

Anas Sarwar holding the Labour manifesto, in front of Labour 'vote for change' signage
The campaign between the SNP and Scottish Labour under Anas Sarwar, pictured, is one of ‘genuine, competing visions of the future’, Swinney will say (Jane Barlow/PA)

“More cuts, opening the door to privatisation of the NHS, Brexit and capping child benefits but not bankers’ bonuses.

“The SNP is offering Scotland a different vision. A vision of hope for a better future.

“Ending austerity, supporting our NHS, rejoining the EU, tackling the cost-of-living crisis and a future made in Scotland, for Scotland, with independence.

“That vision of hope stands in stark contrast to the future of austerity and despair on offer from Labour.

“We don’t have to accept that bleak future offered by Westminster. Things can be better than this. Scotland can do better than this.

“Only the SNP offers Scotland the hope of a better future. But we have to vote for it.”

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said: “This election offers voters the best chance yet to end the SNP’s divisive independence obsession for good.

“In key seats across Scotland, it’s a straight fight between the Scottish Conservatives and the SNP.

“If pro-UK voters unite behind us, we will win those seats and turn a bad night for the SNP into a disastrous one. But a vote for any party other than the Scottish Conservatives – including Reform – risks the SNP candidate sneaking in by the back door.

“The SNP deserve to pay for ignoring Scotland’s real priorities – like fixing our ailing public services and creating good jobs – to fixate instead on breaking up the UK. By voting Scottish Conservative, you can help keep them out.”

Commenting, shadow Scotland secretary Ian Murray said: “This election is an opportunity to boot the Tories out that we cannot afford to miss – but let’s not forget that Scots have been let down by two bad governments.

“John Swinney was the architect of austerity in Scotland – but instead of apologising for decimating local services, he is standing by his dire record.

“This is a First Minister with no credibility on public finances and no new ideas for Scotland. After 17 years of SNP failure and 14 years of Tory chaos, Scotland has a chance to deliver a government that is on the side of the working people of Scotland with Scottish MPs at its heart.

“While John Swinney ties himself in knots, Labour has been clear – we will end Tory austerity, deliver economic stability, treat public finances with respect and give public services a badly needed funding boost.

“Only Labour can end the Tory chaos, maximise Scotland’s influence, bring down bills, make work pay and deliver the change that Scotland needs.”