WILLIE Rennie has urged voters not to desert the Liberal Democrats today when they go to the polls for the European parliamentary elections.
The Scottish leader urged people to choose his party over the “false choice” between what he said was two types of nationalism offered by the SNP and Ukip.
Faced with polls suggesting that the Lib Dems will lose their single Scots MEP in Europe, Mr Rennie made a plea for votes on the eve of the election that will determine how Scotland’s six seats will be distributed.
He argued that a vote for Lib Dem candidate George Lyon would help stop the rise of right-wing Ukip and keep Scotland in Britain and the EU.
Mr Rennie said: “People in Scotland can make a positive choice about who stands up for them in Europe.
“They can elect yet another Nationalist MEP who wants to break up Britain, a Ukip MEP who wants to break up Europe or Liberal Democrat MEP George Lyon who believes we’re better together.”
He added: “The SNP and Ukip are offering Scots a false choice between two nationalisms. A vote for George Lyon and the Liberal Democrats is the best way to protect the positive things Scotland shares as part of the UK, keep us in the EU and block Ukip.
“If you want an MEP who understands that we can achieve more when we work with those around us then you need to back George Lyon at the polls.
“George Lyon has a solid track record of standing up for Scotland in Europe on jobs, farming and investment.
“Returning George to parliament is the best way to protect crucial funding for jobs and ensure that farmers and workers in other key Scottish industries have a strong voice at the EU.”
First Minister Alex Salmond also issued a rallying cry on behalf of his party, which is seeking to increase its representation from two MEPs to three. He urged voters not to support the “nasty, intolerant agenda” of Ukip.
He said: “This European election is about securing a team of MEPs who will be a strong voice for Scotland, but it is also an important chance to determine the kind of Scotland we want to live in.
“I would urge people of tolerance from across Scotland’s political spectrum to look at the nasty, intolerant agenda of Ukip and use their vote to firmly reject that brand of politics.
“The contest for Scotland’s sixth seat is between Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh and Nigel Farage’s Ukip, and people of all political shades who want to stop Ukip can play their part and back Tasmina and the SNP in Thursday’s vote.”
He added: “It is a contest between the new Scotland of hope and ambition that welcomes those who wish to come here and contribute to our society – and the appalling politics of intolerance being peddled by Nigel Farage’s Ukip.
“A strong team of SNP MEPs will fight Scotland’s corner and campaign on the right to extend the living wage to public procurement contracts, to secure jobs and investment in Scotland and to make Scotland’s mark in Europe.”
Also out on the campaign trail was Labour’s shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, who was in Glasgow and Paisley yesterday.
Mr Balls said: “With these European elections the turnout is often not as high as in local or general elections, but we want to see Labour building upon the excellent work of two Scottish MEPs – Catherine Stihler and David Martin – with a third seat.
“The important thing for voters to know is that if you’re voting for the SNP then you’re voting for confusion over Europe, and if you’re voting for Nigel Farage, well you’re voting for walking away from the biggest single market and electing the heir to Margaret Thatcher, and I think both of those are false choices.”
He added: “Right across the UK, Ukip is looking a bit flakey this week. Here in Scotland they don’t have any MEPs and hopefully we can keep it that way.”