Lib Dems can refute polls, claims Jo Swinson

THE LIBERAL Democrats will prove their rivals wrong by winning seats in May’s general election, a leading Scottish MP said.

East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson. Picture: PA

With polls showing support for Nick Clegg’s party has dropped to as low as 4% north of the border, the Liberal Democrats could lose most of their 11 Scottish constituencies.

But Jo Swinson, the Minister for Employment, Consumer Affairs and Equalities, said while the party faced a “tough challenge” it had the “resilience and strength” to succeed.

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Ms Swinson, the MP for East Dunbartonshire, said in the seats that the party currently has in Scotland voters are “looking to us to stop the SNP”.

She issued the rallying call as she addressed the party’s Scottish conference in Aberdeen.

“We know we face a tough fight at this election,” Ms Swinson said.

“But our party has the resilience and the strength to meet this challenge.

“People have written us off before and people were wrong before. They may be writing those things now but we will prove them wrong again.”

After five years in coalition government with the Conservatives at Westminster she said the Lib Dems had been able to turn election pledges into reality.

She stated: “Every leaflet I delivered at the last election talked about our plans to take people out of paying income tax for the first £10,000 they earn - and that is something we can now on our leaflets say that we have delivered.”

Ms Swinson said the Lib Dems in government had brought in new regulations for pay day lenders, resulting in an “exodus” of unscrupulous lenders,

She also highlighted consumer rights legislation which is due to get Royal Assent in the coming week, which will extend protection to digital content.

As as a result “if you’re downloading an app or an ebook or streaming a video you will have consumer rights so you don’t get ripped off”, she stated.

“We have these positive things to put on our leaflets, and when you’re a party of government you campaign on your record as well as your vision.”

Meanwhile she claimed the SNP offered “just warm words” on the NHS while the Liberal Democrats were providing cash for the health service.

Ms Swinson insisted: “We’ve actually increased the NHS budget in real terms, we’ve secured significant extra funds for mental health care, and we’re the only party with a credible plan to give the NHS the money that it needs which will deliver £800 million extra for healthcare here in Scotland.”

She continued: “For all of their bluster, what the independent Institute of Fiscal Studies actually found was that between 2009 and 2014 real terms NHS funding actually fell in Scotland by 1.2%. The equivalent figure for England was it went up by 4.4% so it’s the government at Westminster that’s been prioritising NHS funding, not the government in Holyrood

“They took their eye off the ball and let NHS funding slide.”

She challenged the Scottish Government to “stop chasing another referendum” and instead focus on running the country.

Ms Swinson hit out: “They know they’ve taken their eye off the ball, yet they still refuse to accept the will of the Scottish people.

“Scotland voted No to independence so stop chasing another referendum and get back to the important job of governing Scotland.”