SCOTTISH voters have been put at the forefront of the final appeals by party leaders as they make their last push before the election tomorrow.
Prime Minister David Cameron and Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will both end their campaigns north of the Border, with the Tory leader putting the threat of an “SNP/Labour pact” at the heart of his last day of campaigning.
Meanwhile, with the SNP on the verge of historic gains which polls suggest could see it win more than 50 of the 59 Scottish seats, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will make a final appeal to voters, telling them that “Scotland has the opportunity to make its voice heard at Westminster like never before”.
Labour leader Ed Miliband, faced with losing up to 41 Scottish seats, will use a speech at a rally in Leeds to attack the Tories’ “desperate and negative” campaign but will tell voters across the UK that the choice is between him and Mr Cameron, in a bid to persuade voters to switch back from supporting the SNP.
The appeals to voters come as the polls suggest that the election outcome is still neck and neck, with YouGov putting the Tories and Labour level on 33 per cent, a Lord Ashcroft poll putting the Conservatives two points ahead on 32 per cent, and a Survation poll putting Labour in the lead by just 1 percentage point, also on 32 per cent.
Ms Sturgeon is to repeat her claim that a “legitimate” government needs MPs from across the UK. In her final address she says that Scots have “24 hours to end austerity”.
She adds: “Over the past weeks and months, SNP supporters across the country have worked tirelessly to spread our positive message of progressive politics to benefit Scotland and the whole UK.
“As the General Election campaign draws to a close, there are still precious hours and minutes to make Scotland’s voice heard.
“The fact is, the SNP are the only party offering an alternative to the harsh Westminster cuts that have caused pain in Scotland and across these islands for the past five years.”
She will renew her promise to force a government to ditch the Trident nuclear deterrent and increase spending by £180 billion.
And she will also say it is “crystal clear” that SNP MPs would help “lock out” the Tories from Downing Street.
She adds: “On Thursday morning, Scotland has the opportunity to make its voice heard at Westminster like never before. I know that a strong team of SNP MPs will have Scotland’s interests at heart first, last – and always.”
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson will make a speech asking voters in Scotland to “break the cosy Labour/SNP consensus” as she hopes to defy the SNP surge and increase the number of Tory seats in Scotland to three.
And despite plans by the UK Conservative Party to introduce English votes for English laws and an English rate of income tax, she will insist that a Conservative vote in Scotland is a “Union guarantee”.
But as party leaders focus on their core messages, Mr Cameron will put the fear of the Scottish Nationalists calling the tune in Westminster at the heart of his final appeal to voters as the party leaders make their last push ahead of polling stations opening tomorrow morning.
He will warn that every vote for the Liberal Democrats or Ukip increases the risk of Mr Miliband in Downing Street, propped up by the SNP. That will mean “heavy borrowing and higher taxes for more welfare”.
Speaking during a two-day tour of the country, he will say: “Tomorrow, the British people make their most important decision for a generation: me as your Prime Minister continuing the plan that’s put the country on the right track; or risking it all with Ed Miliband, held to ransom by Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond and the SNP.
“When you go into the polling booth tomorrow – know this: your vote really can make a difference. You can deliver a stable government and have a secure future, but only if you vote Conservative and for me as your Prime Minister.”
He will renew his pledges for tax cuts to low and middle earners, protection of pensioner benefits and making sure people working full time on the minimum wage will not have to pay income tax.
However, he will say: “I warn you, a vote for Ukip or the Lib Dems opens the back door to a Labour government. It will result in Ed Miliband as Prime Minister, unable to survive without SNP support. And that support will cost you money. They will take us back to square one, with heavy borrowing and higher taxes for more welfare. An economy facing ruin.
“So your vote can make a positive difference for you, your family and your country – but only if you vote Conservative in your seat. I urge you to choose wisely tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Mr Miliband, in an effort to bring back voters who have turned to the SNP, will say: “The campaign has shown that Britain faces a clear choice on Thursday: a government that puts working people first, or one that works for the privileged few.
“While the Conservatives have run a desperate, negative campaign with nothing to say to working people, Labour has demonstrated that we’re the ones with a better plan – for living standards, the NHS and the next generation – and we’re the ones with the momentum as we enter the final straight.”
Mr Clegg will end a two-day tour of constituencies from Lands End to John o’Groats in three key Scottish seats starting in East Dunbartonshire, passing through Danny Alexander’s Inverness seat and finishing in Caithness and Sutherland.
In a last effort to get the Lib Dems to hold the balance of power again and see off the SNP surge, he will tell voters: “Tomorrow, you face the biggest political decision of your life. Without Liberal Democrats, Labour or the Conservatives will be left to run a messy and unstable minority government, dependent on the SNP on the one hand or Ukip and the DUP on the other.
“The Liberal Democrats will give a heart to a Conservative government and a brain to a Labour one.
“Every Liberal Democrat MP makes Labour’s reckless borrowing and the Conservatives’ ideological cuts less likely. And every Liberal Democrat MP is a barrier between Nigel Farage and Alex Salmond and the door to 10 Downing Street.”