Race for Holyrood: Your Scottish election briefing for Tuesday, April 20

A light-hearted look at the Scottish election campaign trail.

Soapbox

@NicolaSturgeon: “At stake here is a simple democratic principle that can unite those for and against independence – it is Scotland’s right to decide. The arrogant assertion that the Tories get to decide for us – no matter how Scotland votes – should be given short shrift by every democrat.”

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The First Minister was reacting to a video from Channel 4 news in which Scottish Tories leader Douglas Ross was asked on five occasions to spell out the democratic path to holding a second Scottish independence referendum.

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Do you have a good caption for this photo of All for Unity party leader George Galloway in Gretna Green?

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George Galloway, leader of the All For Unity Party, campaigns during the Scottish Parliament election with a speech at the Gretna Gateway Outlet. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The SNP has demanded Douglas Ross "come clean" on which NHS Scotland frontline services would face the chop and claimed the Scottish Tory plans amount to £600 million of cuts. They say this is the equivalent of 15,000 WTE qualified nurses and midwives, or 6 per cent of the combined staff and medicines budget for NHS Scotland.

At the same time, the SNP has pledged to increase the NHS budget by at least 20 per cent (£2.5 billion) and increase the social care budget by at least 25 per cent (£840m).

However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) made clear the Scottish Tory NHS spending pledge is “at least as generous as the SNP’s”, while also accusing Nicole Sturgeon’s party of not costing the manifesto.

The IFS review of it says: “The manifesto does not provide information on how much these various pledges will cost altogether, which is disappointing.”

Campaign Trail

•All for Unity leader George Galloway was billed as being set to deliver a speech “slamming” Nicola Sturgeon’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic from a soapbox in the Gretna Gateway Outlet Car Park. There was a slight glitch though when the livestream failed to play at first on Mr Galloway’s Facebook page. The full 27-minute video was later made available to interested viewers.

•Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has repeatedly dismissed pleas from Tory rival Douglas Ross to work in coalition in a bid to oust the SNP from power at Holyrood. However, Mr Sarwar was in a more co-operative mood ahead of the launch of his party’s manifesto, saying he would “work with anyone” to institute a minimum income standard in Scotland. The party’s policies include the doubling of the Scottish Child Payment to £20 per week, but also assessing the viability of a minimum income standard.

•As anger over the European Super League continues, two of Scotland’s leading political parties have backed reforming the country’s national game to allow fans to own their football teams. Fan takeovers have been finalised by some teams in Scotland already, including Premiership side Motherwell, but the Scottish Greens and Scottish Labour declared they wanted to see more. One man familiar with fan takeovers from his investment at Hearts – shadow Scotland secretary Ian Murray – said: “Football belongs to the fans – not to a cartel of billionaires at the top.”

Battleground

North East Fife

•Winner (2016): Liberal Democrats

•Second Place (2016): SNP

•Swing to lose: 5.09%

The constituency was created at the same time as the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and enlarged in 2005.

The seat includes farm land, tourist resorts and market towns such as Cupar. It is also famous for the town of St Andrews and Scotland’s oldest university of the same name, which was founded in 1410.

Willie Rennie won the seat for the Liberal Democrats in 2016, beating the SNP’s Roderick Campbell after a 15.4 per cent swing. Mr Campbell had first won the seat in 2011, having come third in 2007. This time the SNP’s candidate is Rhuaraidh Fleming, who used to work in retail.

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