Desperate Jack begs for votes
JACK McConnell has issued a desperate plea to Tory and Liberal voters, urging them to vote tactically for Labour to stave off an SNP victory in Thursday's Holyrood election.
In a clear indication of the meltdown facing his party, the First Minister said Conservative and Lib Dem supporters should back him as the "only way" to stop Alex Salmond.
McConnell also launched an outspoken attack on the Lib Dems, Labour's former coalition partners, suggesting they were putting the Union at risk by making it "very clear" they would help the SNP form a government.
The First Minister's comments came as a new 'superpoll' showed he is facing a humiliating defeat in four days. According to the poll, which questioned nearly 2,000 people, the SNP will easily become the largest party, putting Salmond in a position to run the country for the next four years.
In an interview published today in Scotland on Sunday, McConnell said the election on Thursday was "far and away the most important moment in Scotland's recent history".
He added that voters who are preparing to vote for one of the other pro-Union parties should now reconsider and back Labour. McConnell said: "I really urge people who are thinking about voting for a Lib Dem or a Conservative - the only way to stop the tax-and-turmoil with the SNP is to vote Labour on Thursday."
The First Minister also issued his most vehement attack yet on the Liberal Democrats with whom he was in coalition up until last month. It came after the Liberals declared on Friday that they would not do a deal with Labour if the SNP became the largest party.
"The Lib Dems have made it very clear that if the SNP beat Labour in this election on Thursday, the first action of the Liberal Democrats will be to help the SNP form a government," he said.
"And so if you vote Liberal Democrat you might get Alex Salmond anyway. People should think very seriously about that."
Turning to Tory voters, he added: "I have met Conservative voters in many parts of Scotland in the last four weeks who are thinking about voting Labour for the first time in their lives because they can see the danger. I would urge people, whatever other party they may have been thinking of voting for, to think between now and Thursday about voting for us."
McConnell's appeal to the voters of other parties to vote tactically is highly unusual for the leader of the largest party, and confirms the private fears within the Labour camp that they have little chance of closing the gap on the SNP.
The new YouGov poll, commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), gives the SNP an eight point lead over Labour in the constituency vote, and a five point lead in the regional list vote.
Analysis by Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University shows that, if the swing is uniform across the country, the SNP will win 46 seats to Labour's 40. The Conservatives and the Liberals would get 18 each, with the Greens on five and others two.
The poll would leave the SNP and the Liberals one seat short of a majority in Parliament. But Scotland on Sunday can also reveal that the Greens now say they too would consider a formal coalition deal, in which they would accept ministerial jobs. It leaves open the possibility of a three-way coalition after Thursday's vote.
Commenting on McConnell's plea to Liberal and Conservative voters, SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon said: "This is pure desperation from Jack McConnell, and takes Labour's negative campaign to a new low.
"Bereft of anything positive to say, he is now trying to cling on to power through the back door, hand in hand with the Tories, instead of recognising the mood of Scotland for a new government. Mr McConnell wants to take Scotland backwards - Scotland and the SNP want to go forward."
She added: "People have it in their hands to make it arithmetically impossible for a Labour-Tory alliance stopping Scotland achieving progress and a new SNP government on Thursday."
Meanwhile, a well-placed source in the Lib Dems responded to McConnell's comments by offering a clear hint that a deal with the SNP was also increasingly unlikely. "There is no way that the Liberal Democrats will be used as a back door to independence," the insider said.
The ESRC poll also shows that the SNP is ahead on policy. It found that 88% of people backed the Nationalist and Lib Dems' plan for a local income tax, as opposed to just 12% who supported a tax on property.
The poll also found that, on law and order, health and education, people believe an SNP administration would do better than the previous one.
However, it found that only 31% of people want Scotland to be independent. That was opposed to 46% of people who either want Holyrood to stay the same or be given extra fiscal powers.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: East