The left wing outsider in the race for the Scottish Labour leadership last night claimed the contest was “going to the wire” on the eve of the final votes being cast.
Neil Findlay suggested that favourite Jim Murphy would not have things all his own way, as he pledged to continue campaigning right up to the voting deadline at noon today.
Mr Findlay, the party’s Holyrood health spokesman, and Mr Murphy, the former Labour Shadow Cabinet member, are battling for the position alongside Sarah Boyack, the long-standing MSP.
As the most left wing candidate, Mr Findlay looks to have secured the most trade union support in the electoral college ballot made up of three components. Mr Murphy, however, is thought to have majority support in the other two components – Labour’s 80 elected politicians and its membership. The result will be announced on Saturday.
Last night, a spokesman for Mr Findlay’s campaign said: “Less than a month ago, when our volunteers started phoning party members, some people were saying, ‘Who is Neil Findlay?’ No one is saying that now, and the issues he has raised on social care, on tackling PFI debt, on raising the status of vocational education are now firmly on the political agenda.”
Meanwhile Mr Murphy attempted to woo the last remaining voters by looking at the options open to voters at the May General Election. The East Renfrewshire MP argued that, despite the rise of the SNP and other parties such as Ukip, the best way to dislodge the Conservatives was a Labour vote.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
“Despite the increasingly fragmented nature of the UK’s politics, an election to the House of Commons under a First Past the Post system remains a two-horse race. Only Labour can replace the Tories and form the next UK Government. Not the Liberals, Greens, UKIP or the SNP,” he said in a blog post last night.
“A vote for anybody but Labour in many Scottish constituencies makes it more likely that David Cameron would remain Prime Minister. Bluntly, all that the SNP’s efforts will achieve will be to risk Labour being able to be big enough to replace Cameron. I know that isn’t what most people who vote SNP, Green or Lib Dem want.
“As Scots go back to the polls for the second time in eight months the majority are hoping to see the back of the Tories. My message to my fellow Scots is straightforward – our votes really can make the difference. Just as in the referendum, the simple act of voting really does matter again. ”
As today’s noon deadline approached, Ms Boyack challenged the Scottish Government to deliver its Town Centre Action Plan and give councils more cash for regeneration.
She said that, as leader, she would focus on returning “meaningful power” to local authorities.
She added: “Fixing local government funding with a fairer alternative to council tax is a priority and I welcome Nicola Sturgeon’s commitment to a cross-party commission on the issue.
“But we need to consider additional ideas. I am eager to explore new ways to allow councils to generate revenue to drive innovation.
“Ideas like a tourism levy work in other countries across Europe and would be worth exploring here. With independent retailers occupying more than half of retail units and a fall in vacancy rates, there are signs of optimism.
“The challenge now is to provide the investment we need to see to transform our town centres.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS