Race for Holyrood: Your Scottish election digest for Friday, April 30

A light-hearted look at the Scottish election campaign.

Soapbox

@scotlibdems: “We shouldn’t have to spend the next five years worrying whether RBS will relocate to London or whether our family in England will be cut off on the other side of border at Berwick.”

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Scottish Lib Dems leader Willie Rennie has declared that votes for his party can settle concerns over over borders, the currency and the deficit.

Nicola Sturgeon campaigns in the Scottish Parliament election with local candidate Fergus Mutch (not pictured) at the Benachie Leisure Centre in Insch.

His claim comes after chiefs at the Royal Bank of Scotland said the institution would move its headquarters from Edinburgh to London in the event of Scottish independence.

Appealing directly to voters who have previously backed the SNP, Mr Rennie said: “Voting for Scottish Liberal Democrats can make the worry go away.”

Caption This

Do you have a good caption for this photo of a group of future swing voters fleeing Nicola Sturgeon?

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#FakeNews?

On Thursday, an open letter to the EU, signed by more than 100 European and British public figures, called on the trading bloc to make an “exceptional” and “unilateral” offer of membership to any future independent Scotland.

The letter said that, in Scotland’s case, the EU should effectively ignore several of the fiscal and economic stipulations that it requires applicant countries to meet before gaining membership.

Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the support and claimed the letter made “clear” the country “should be warmly and quickly welcomed back into the EU”.

But it is not at all clear whether EU officials, who would ultimately be in charge of the decision, would ever assent to such a move.

For one thing, bending its own rules in Scotland’s favour could land the EU in serious diplomatic and economic difficulties with other countries currently lobbying to enter its fold.

There would also likely be internal opposition to suggestions that Scotland could disregard stringent limits on spending deficits that other EU members have to meet.

Campaign Trail

•The legal case of independent Mid-Scotland and Fife candidate Martin Keating hit a dead end on Friday afternoon, when the highest court in Scotland refused to opine on whether the Scottish Parliament has the power to call indyref2 without the consent of the UK Government. In its judgement, the Inner House of the Court of Session declared brusquely that the issue was “academic”, “hypothetical” and “premature”. Though Mr Keating has already declared he has “absolutely zero intention” of backing off, some might wonder whether his efforts have been worth the crowd-funded £225,000 price tag.

•Meanwhile, Scottish Labour has unveiled 150 newly-erected billboards around Scotland that urge voters to use their second vote to back the party. In a move that could signal concerns over the potential erosion of the party’s list vote, the billboard campaign follows the release of another election battle bus – emblazoned with the slogan “use your second vote for Anas Sarwar’s Labour”.

Battleground

Perthshire North

•Winning Party (2016): SNP

•Second place (2016): Scottish Conservatives

•Swing to lose: 4.90%

Perthshire North is John Swinney’s stomping ground. The deputy first minister has held the seat since it was first contested in 2011.

But while Mr Swinney wiped the floor with his opponents that year, claiming a hefty 60 per cent of the vote and a majority of more than 10,000, he was left sitting less pretty in 2016.

The Scottish Conservatives’ Murdo Fraser saw his vote share surge by more than 12 per cent – as Mr Swinney’s collapsed by the same amount – leaving him within snapping-distance of the SNP veteran’s heels.

Just 3,336 votes separate the pair – too many, perhaps, for Mr Murdo to overcome on the Tories’ current polling performance. But as election results emerge one by one, seeing Mr Swinney’s majority thinned out further – or fattened up once again – could provide a good picture of how both parties have fared across Scotland as a whole.

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