Scottish election 2021: Tories provide Nicola Sturgeon with 'get out of jail free card'. Only Labour can change that – Ian Murray MP

As polling stations open their doors across Edinburgh today, the election campaign has come down to a simple choice: recovery or referendum.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 7:00 am

Despite what they say, every vote for the SNP or Greens will be appropriated by the nationalists as a vote to divide Scotland once again.

And every vote for the Tories will be used to rerun the tired, old arguments of 2014.

Only one party, Scottish Labour, has prioritised national recovery throughout this campaign with a detailed plan.

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There is no doubt which leader has led the most impressive campaign, no doubt who has had the most fun on the trail, and no doubt about who is talking about the priorities of most Scots.

But if you like what you’ve seen and heard from Anas Sarwar, you need to vote for it. Anas is building the alternative to the SNP.

After 14 years, the SNP has run out of ideas and wants to debate the constitution in order to paper over the cracks of its poor record in government.

Remember, it was Nicola Sturgeon who stood up in my old school, Wester Hailes Education Centre, and said it would be her defining mission to close the attainment gap between pupils from the wealthiest and most deprived communities. She catastrophically failed so moved onto other vacuous “missions”.

There is no doubt that Anas Sarwar has led the most impressive campaign, says Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

She failed too to protect and fund our NHS even before Covid, meaning we now have a devastating backlog of diagnostic and treatment that will take years to clear.

That’s why we need a credible alternative to the SNP, which will spend the next five years working to build a fairer, stronger Scotland.

Tory leader Douglas Ross can’t say that. He doesn’t have many policy ideas – apart from giving himself a tax cut. It’s been made clear in recent days that he doesn’t care about the Union – he only cares about his party.

It takes some skill to keep Boris Johnson away and still run the worst campaign.

So it’s time to take away Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘get out of jail free’ card and ensure we have an opposition worthy of the name, offering a credible alternative to champion your priorities.

The Scottish Parliament was designed so that parties could work together on innovative policy ideas, not to become a mechanism to divide people.

A strong group of Labour MSPs will ensure Parliament focuses on what really matters to you: jobs; health; education; climate; and communities.

Anas has asked voters to imagine what we could achieve if we focus on what unites, not divides, us. What we could achieve if we obsessed as much about the things that really matter rather than separation.

We could use the Scottish Parliament’s vast powers to deliver the biggest job creation scheme in its history, fund our NHS to get cancer treatment back on track, improve mental health services, give carers the pay they deserve, protect and rebuild hard-hit sectors affected by Covid, and we would develop a comeback plan for our schools to tackle that attainment gap.

All those things are not possible if we spend the next parliament debating separation. That’s what is at stake in this election. So, let’s vote for Anas to unite us and build a recovery for everyone.

Ian Murray is Scottish Labour MP for Edinburgh South

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