Nicola Sturgeon: Vote for a strong voice in London

The SNP leader on the campaign trail. Picture: Getty
The SNP leader on the campaign trail. Picture: Getty
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This election is not about independence – it is about making sure Scots are truly heard

THIS election is like no other in modern times. It has seen the power of the Westminster establishment challenged as never before, which is very healthy for democracy.

In Scotland it means there is a fantastic opportunity to make our nation more powerful at Westminster than we have ever been before.

Electing a strong group of SNP MPs to Westminster on Thursday will give Scotland potentially unprecedented power and influence there.

And if Scotland can unite around that vision, it will mean the voices of people right across the country will be listened to properly.

The message that so many people want to see taken forward and acted on is the end to austerity and the counterproductive agenda of cuts piled upon cuts which the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems are all signed up to.

Sending a powerful bloc of SNP MPs to Westminster will give us the chance to stop austerity in its tracks, and instead invest in vital public services like the NHS while also bringing down the deficit in a sensible, controlled way.

That will be good for Scotland – but also for people across the rest of the UK who are equally turned off by the identikit policy agendas of the establishment parties.

The SNP will always put Scotland’s interests first, but we also offer a genuine hand of friendship to people across the UK who can also benefit from the kind of progressive policy alliance we are poised to forge if we get a strong mandate from the people of Scotland.

I have lost count of the number of messages of support we have received from people in England, many of whom have said they would also like to have the chance to vote for us at this election.

And that gives the lie to the notion put about by the Tories and Ukip – who have been trying to outdo each other in their increasingly hysterical attacks on the SNP – that people in England are, as one, opposed to the kind of progressive change we can bring.

Unfortunately for Labour, Ed Miliband has been so spooked by that anti-SNP rhetoric that he has allowed himself to be bullied by the Tories – hence his disastrous pronouncement that he would rather let them back in than work with us to keep them locked out of Downing Street.

It was cack-handed move, because in Scotland it simply galvanises even more support for the SNP – and there is already polling evidence suggesting that is the case.

Labour long ago surrendered the right to automatically govern swathes of Scotland. And already, more than half a million people who voted Labour at the last UK election will vote SNP on Thursday.

People across Scotland would never, ever forgive Labour if they would rather let David Cameron walk back into Number 10 than work with the SNP. Of course, Miliband’s tactics might suggest that he and Labour’s high command in London have simply given up on Scotland, as they know that many voters here have just stopped listening to them.

But his extraordinary remarks make it even more important that Scotland unites to elect a large group of SNP MPs to give Scotland a pivotal role at Westminster, and help lock the Tories out of office.

This election is not about independence or another referendum. It is about giving Scotland a strong voice – and to do so we need as much of the country as possible to unite around that message.

By uniting as a country – Highland, Lowland, urban, rural, those who voted Yes and those who voted No, those who have voted SNP before and those who never have, including traditional Labour voters – we can elect a strong group of SNP MPs, and give Scotland real power at Westminster. That will ensure our interests are not ignored as they have been in the past.

The opinion polls guarantee nothing, and we will work tirelessly between now and Thursday to win the trust of people all across Scotland.