Scots leaders face second TV head-to-head

Jim Murphy believes the First Minister made a "stupid strategical error". Picture: PA

Jim Murphy believes the First Minister made a "stupid strategical error". Picture: PA

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SCOTLAND’S political leaders will be on the campaign trail in Aberdeen, ahead of a second televised election debate in two days.

SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, Ruth Davidson from the Scottish Conservatives and Willie Rennie of the Scottish Liberal Democrats will face each other for the second time in 24 hours.

The first debate was dominated by the prospect of a post-election deal with Labour and the SNP after May 7 - with Ms Sturgeon saying she would help make Ed Miliband the next prime minister.

Mr Murphy, however, insisted Labour did not need help from the Scottish nationalists to oust David Cameron and the Conservatives from Downing Street.

Unlike the clash in Edinburgh last night, tonight’s debate in Aberdeen will include Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie and David Coburn, the UK MEP for Scotland.

Before the television head-to-head, the rival parties will be out campaigning in the north east of Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon will canvass with Kirsty Blackman and Callum McCaig, the party’s respective candidates for Aberdeen North and Aberdeen South.

She will say that SNP MPs will be a strong voice for the north east as she meets voters in the Castlegate area.

Mr Murphy will also be in the city for a visit to youth homelessness and unemployment charity Aberdeen Foyer with the party’s Aberdeen South candidate Ann Begg.

He will warn that the Conservatives will cut more money from Scotland’s welfare budget than it currently spends on disability benefit.

Speaking ahead of the visit, he said: ‘’We have had five years of brutal Tory austerity - but the reality is we have not seen the worst of their plans yet.

‘’They are planning deeper cuts in the next three years than the last five.

‘’The Tories want to cut £12 billion from welfare after the election. That’s £1 billion from Scottish people - more than all the disability benefits paid in Scotland.”

Elsewhere on the campaign trail Deputy First Minister John Swinney will be in Perth to meet the owner and staff of marketing company and living wage employer Volpa, where he will launch the SNP’s five point plan for fair work.

The plan will include the party’s backing for a rise in the minimum wage and a crackdown on zero hours contracts, and Mr Swinney will also call for the urgent devolution of powers over the work programme.

He said: “Fair work will play a key role in making Scotland the fairer, more equal society everyone wants to see - which is why it is a principle which the SNP will be putting at the heart of our election campaign for the next four weeks.

“Working people have been let down for far too long by Westminster parties which simply don’t represent their interests - and with both Labour and the Tories signed up to George Osborne’s plans for a further £30bn of cuts it is clear that things are only going to get worse. That’s exactly why we need to take a new, more progressive approach which puts working people first.

“A strong team of SNP MPs elected in May will ensure that the principles of fair work and progressive politics are firmly on Westminster’s agenda for the first time in a generation - benefiting working people not just in Scotland but across the whole UK.”

Conservative MSP Annabel Goldie will be joined by party activists at a street stall outside House of Fraser in Glasgow’s Buchanan Street.

Meanwhile former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell and the party’s East Dunbartonshire candidate Jo Swinson will be in Bearsden to meet researchers at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research to discuss Liberal Democrat plans to protect investment in science and research.

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