General election: ‘Burly blokes’ claim dismissed

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CLAIMS by Ruth Davidson that “burly blokes” had been seen at a polling station intimidating voters if they did not vote for a “certain party” have been dismissed by the local council.

The Scottish Tory leader had tweeted allegations that men had been seen in Annan turning voters away if they did not support the party they were backing. Davidson did not name the party, but many on social media inferred she was talking about the SNP.

Earlier this afternoon, she wrote: “Disturbing reports of people being turned away from an Annan polling station by burly blokes if they say they don’t support a certain party.”

However, a subsequent tweet from the official Dumfries and Galloway Council account waved away her allegation, insisting that no complaints had been lodged.

The tweet from @dgcouncil read: “@RuthDavidsonMSP No burly blokes outside Annan. Officers and police visiting frequently. No complaints re canvassers.”

A statement released later confirmed that the council had not received reports of bullying at the polling station.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP visits a polling station in Glasgow's West End. Picture: Hemedia

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP visits a polling station in Glasgow's West End. Picture: Hemedia

Tory MP David Mundell is hoping to retain his seat in the Drumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale region.

As final exit polls put Labour and the Conservatives at level pegging, SNP heavyweight Alex Salmond insisted his party’s “tails are up across the country” as he cast his vote in Ellon, in the Gordon constituency where he is standing.

Mr Salmond joined SNP voter Nicki Falconer, who voted for the first time in last year’s independence referendum and has since joined the party.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland’s political future is now “in the hands of the voters” after voting early at Broomhouse community hall in Glasgow accompanied by husband and SNP chief executive Peter Murrell.

Nicola Sturgeon votes with her husband Peter Murrell in Glasgow. Picture: Getty

Nicola Sturgeon votes with her husband Peter Murrell in Glasgow. Picture: Getty

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy said “the sun is shining and there is a huge amount of energy and confidence” in the party as he voted at Busby Primary School in the East Renfrewshire constituency he has represented since 1997.

“I’ve always been the underdog in this constituency,” he said.

“It’s usually the Tories who are favourites but the bookies say this time round it’s the SNP, but I always enjoy confounding the pollsters, the pundits and the bookies. We’ve had a great response.”

Former Labour shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said “a Labour government is within touching distance” as the polls opened in Paisley and Renfrewshire South while his SNP opponent Mhairi Black urged people to “vote for a fresh start”.

Leader of the Scottish Labour Party Jim Murphy gestures at a polling station to cast his vote in Glasgow, Scotland. Picture: Getty

Leader of the Scottish Labour Party Jim Murphy gestures at a polling station to cast his vote in Glasgow, Scotland. Picture: Getty

Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister Jo Swinson said it had been “a glorious start to polling day” in East Dunbartonshire.

Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone joined Edinburgh South Green candidate Phyl Meyer at Marchmont St Giles polling station.

David Coburn MEP, Ukip’s only elected politician in Scotland, also voted in Edinburgh before setting off for a round of broadcast interviews.

Meanwhile, in polling conducted earlier today, the Evening Standard put the Conservatives on 36 per cent and Labour on 35 per cent while the Ashcroft National Poll has the two parties tied on 33 per cent.A Guardian/ICM poll gave Labour a one-point lead over the Conservatives.

With all the indications that the country is heading for another hung parliament, it is still unclear where the balance of power will lie after voting closes at 10pm.

Both the latest opinion polls have Ukip on 11 per cent, with Ipsos MORI putting the Liberal Democrats on 8 per cent while the Ashcroft National Poll has them on 10 per cent.

SNP candidate for the Gordon constituency Alex Salmond gives the thumbs up with first time voter Nicki Falconer, and her family. Picture: Getty

SNP candidate for the Gordon constituency Alex Salmond gives the thumbs up with first time voter Nicki Falconer, and her family. Picture: Getty

With so much at stake, party leaders were out early to cast their votes.

David Cameron arrived with wife Samantha at a polling station in his Witney constituency in Oxfordshire, while Ed Miliband and his wife Justine voted in his Doncaster North seat in the contest which will decide which of the two men will enter No 10.

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Ukip’s Nigel Farage cast his vote in his Kent constituency of Thanet South knowing that his political future is on the line having promised to step down as party leader if he is not elected.

Last out after his Land’s End to John O’Groat’s campaign marathon was Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg who was voting with wife Miriam in his Sheffield Hallam constituency.

Ahead of polling, Mr Cameron said the way voters cast their ballots would “define a generation” and appealed for more time to build a better Britain, warning a Labour government would be “held to ransom” by Scottish nationalists.

But Mr Miliband accused him of hiding the truth about deep spending cuts that posed a “real and present danger” to families’ finances, and urged people to bring an end to “five years of unfairness, five years of failure”.

In one of the biggest pre-election polls, a YouGov survey of 10,000 voters for The Sun had the main parties on 34 per cent each - but with a significant 17 per cent saying they were yet to make up their minds - a figure put as high as 25 per cent in a ComRes poll for ITV and the Daily Mail.

In the past such a tie would have been enough to propel Mr Miliband into Downing Street but an SNP surge in Scotland threatens to rob Labour of dozens of its traditional strongholds north of the border and the chance to govern alone.

A YouGov poll in Scotland for The Times shows Ms Sturgeon’s party - with which Mr Miliband has ruled out any formal deal - enjoying 48 per cent of support to Labour’s 28 per cent, putting several key figures including Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy in peril of losing their seats.

Ms Sturgeon said her party was “within touching distance” of a majority of Scottish seats at Westminster for the first time and being able to make sure “the voice of Scotland is going to be heard more loudly at Westminster than it has ever been heard before”.

She has appealed to Labour to join forces to “lock out” the Conservatives but warned her MPs would vote down a future Labour budget if it failed to end “Tory austerity” - a threat seized on by the Tories as a central theme of its campaign.

Mr Clegg, who faces a fight to hold on to his own Sheffield Hallam seat, urged voters to stick with the Liberal Democrats as the only party able to provide a “stable” influence on a Tory or Labour administration.

He said his party’s performance will be the “surprise story” of polling day, dismissing predictions of an electoral mauling that has left key figures such as Cabinet minister Danny Alexander vulnerable to a collapse in support after five year in coalition with the Conservatives.

Mr Farage predicted many undecideds would swing behind the Eurosceptic party as it seeks to translate regular third places in national polls into an influential Commons presence in any post-election negotiations.

“We have a feeling there are lots of people out there who are shy Ukippers who don’t tell the opinion pollsters how they will vote,” he told an eve-of-poll rally, adding that he was looking forward to the established parties waking up tomorrow with a “huge hangover”.

The Green Party will also hope to increase its parliamentary presence, heavily targeting three seats in a push to underline the increasingly fractured political make-up of the electorate.

Polling stations will be open until 10pm in what will be the busiest General Election day since 1979, with nearly 10,000 council seats also up for grabs.

There are contests for 290 councils and six mayors in England.

A voter makes his way to the Polling Station in the tiny fishing village of Collieston near Ellon, Scotland. Picture: Getty

A voter makes his way to the Polling Station in the tiny fishing village of Collieston near Ellon, Scotland. Picture: Getty

Voters and party helpers outside a polling station in Dalgety Bay, in the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency. Picture: Getty

Voters and party helpers outside a polling station in Dalgety Bay, in the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency. Picture: Getty

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