Race for Holyrood: Your Scottish election briefing for Tuesday, May 4

A light-hearted look at the Scottish election campaign.


@JohnSwinney: “Who do you want to be at the podium? Scotland needs serious leadership for serious times.

“Throughout Covid Nicola Sturgeon has given leadership, clarity and empathy to everyone in Scotland.

“If you want her to be First Minister again use #BothVotesSNP on Thursday.”

Opponents have accused John Swinney of politicising coronavirus briefings after asking voters to imagine who they wanted to be stood “at the podium” after Thursday’s vote.

In the past, the SNP has been adamant that it has not used the televised briefings, or the pandemic more generally, as a campaigning platform.

Mr Swinney’s comments are at odds with those made by the First Minister, who last year warned her political rivals not to “undermine” public health messaging by politicising the daily briefings.

Nicola Sturgeon campaigns in the Station House Café Cookery School in Kirkcudbright. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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The Scottish Conservatives have appeared to concede the UK Government would be unable to block SNP attempts to hold a second independence referendum if the party were to win a majority later this week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously pledged to block attempts to grant the Scottish Parliament the power to hold another referendum – even if there's a pro-independence majority.

But in a tweet on Monday, Douglas Ross’s party said an SNP victory would “guarantee” a new vote on Scotland’s relationship with the UK.

The Tories are now warning voters the SNP is plotting to hold an “illegal wildcat referendum” irrespective of the Prime Minister’s attempts to block one.

Campaign Trail

•New polling from Opinium has found Nicola Sturgeon has a net approval rating of +17. While it makes her the most popular party leader in Scotland, that figure will make disconcerting reading for some in SNP HQ – after all, it was five points higher a month ago. Any SNP concerns over their leader’s performance, however, will be dwarfed by those of Alba insiders. Their party leader, Alex Salmond, currently sits on a net approval rating of -70, making him less popular in Scotland than Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

•Scottish Labour have taken a leaf out of Alba’s book, after the new party beamed its logo onto the side of the BBC Scotland building in Glasgow on Monday night. Anas Sarwar’s party projected the message “both votes Scottish Labour” onto a series of landmarks around the country, including Edinburgh Castle, the Scottish Parliament building, and the SEC Armadillo in Glasgow.

•Former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson caused a stir on Tuesday afternoon after she drew a comparison between the political situations in Scotland and Wales. In a campaign video for the Welsh Conservatives, Ms Davidson told viewers that, just as in Scotland, there were only “a few points” separating Labour and the Tories in Wales – the only difference being that, in Wales, the parties aren’t fighting it out for second place.


Caithness, Sutherland and Ross

•Winning Party (2016): SNP

•Second Place (2016): Scottish Liberal Democrats

•Swing to lose: 6.07%

The old Scottish Parliament seat of Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross was a stronghold for the Lib Dems through many elections.

But in 2011, when the constituency absorbed the rest of Ross, as well as parts of Skye and Inverness West, the party lost its hold, and Lib Dem veteran Jamie Stone was replaced by the SNP’s Rob Gibson.

Mr Gibson was himself replaced as the MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross by his party colleague Gail Ross at the 2016 election, who beat a resurgent Jamie Stone by almost 4,000 votes – despite seeing the SNP’s vote share drop by more than 5 per cent.

This time around, however, both party’s hopefuls face the complicating factor of Andy Wightman’s candidacy in the contest.

The ex-Green Party MSP, who is standing as an independent, could woo a significant number of SNP supporters, potentially leaving the path clear for the Lib Dems to retake the seat – though Mr Wightman’s impact on the final result is far from certain.

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