Race for Holyrood: Your Scottish election briefing for Monday, April 19

A lighter look at the Scottish election campaign trail.

Soapbox

@PaulJSweeney: “Do millennials ever stop to consider how ludicrous it is that most are paying more in rent each month than they would if they had a mortgage on the same property? They're working to pay off their landlord's mortgage, funding their lifestyle. All for the sake of a mortgage deposit.”

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Former MP and Labour parliamentary candidate for the Glasgow region, Paul Sweeney, sparked division when he tweeted this morning. Many supported his comments, interpreting them as a call for change. However, others took it as a swipe at millennials, with one Twitter user branding it as being “one step away from the old avocado toast blame game”.

Caption This

Can you suggest a caption for this picture of Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross at the launch of his party’s manifesto in Glasgow today?

#FakeNews?

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Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross during the Scottish Conservative party manifesto launch for the Scottish Parliamentary election, at The Engine Works, Glasgow.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie claimed new figures showed that 605 people convicted of possession of drugs without intent to supply have been sent to prison instead of being offered drug treatment over the three years to 2019. Meanwhile, he said, 108 people received a drug treatment and testing order during the same three-year period.

The figures were published in a response from justice secretary Humza Yousaf to a question put by Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur.

However, while the figures are correct – 605 people were sent to prison for drug offences, with the majority of those relating to heroin offences – a note issued with the response states: “The low use of the community payback order drug treatment requirement does not mean that individuals with substance misuse problems are not having these needs addressed.”

It added: “Community payback order annual reports, provided by local authorities, highlight that issues such as alcohol, drugs and mental health are often addressed under the supervision requirement of a CPO.

"This was echoed by the evaluation of community payback orders, carried out in 2015. Both the evaluation and the annual reports noted that using the supervision requirement in this way is especially helpful for those individuals who need support, but do not meet the specific criteria of the treatment requirements.”

Campaign Trail

We summarise key developments on the campaign trail from today

- Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has urged fans of former Tory leader Ruth Davidson to join his party. Speaking at a golf driving range, he said Conservatives who “feel politically homeless because of the departure of Ruth Davidson” and do not relate to a party run by Boris Johnson and Douglas Ross should vote Lib Dem.

- The SNP has revealed a system of wraparound childcare – providing year-round care before and after school – to help working families. Under the plans, the least well-off families would pay nothing, with others being asked to make a “fair and affordable contribution”. Free early years education would also be expanded to all low-income one and two-year-olds.

- Former first minister and head of the new Alba party, Alex Salmond, has come under pressure to say whether he accepts that Russian agents linked to the poisoning of Sergei Skripkal in Salisbury, were behind a deadly 2014 warehouse blast in the Czech Republic. Mr Salmond, who hosted a TV show on Russian state English language broadcaster Russia Today, was first minister at the time of the attack. Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chair Alistair Carmichael MP claimed Mr Salmond had gone “out of his way to avoid offending his Russian paymasters over the Skripal poisoning”.

- Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross urged “pro-union voters” to vote Conservative, even if they have never done so before, to stop an SNP majority in Holyrood, as he launched his party’s manifesto.

- The Scottish Green party has announced a £150m nature restoration fund to restore key habitats such as wetlands, rivers and coastlines, creating 428 jobs. The party will also support rural businesses and food producers, including the establishment of a National Farm Land Trust to help a new generation of farmers and growers access land.

Battleground

We look at a minority seat or constituency battleground each day. Today it is:

Rutherglen

Winning party (2016): SNP

Second place (2016): Scottish Labour

Swing to lose: 5.68 per cent

One Scotland’s oldest burgh, Rutherglen, is to the south-east of Glasgow city centre, which it predates by 500 years. The name Rutherglen is said to come from Gaelic for "reddish glen" after the red clay found in the area. As well as Rutherglen, the constituency also includes the town of Cambuslang, Burnside and Blantyre.

Janis Hughes won the seat for the Labour Party in the 1999 and 2003 elections. James Kelly then held the seat in 2007 and 2011, before Claire Haughey of the SNP won in 2016. Mr Kelly, currently a list MSP, is to stand again against Ms Haughey.

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