THE political parties have launched a “land war” in the closing stages of the election campaign, sending in extra resources on the ground in a bid to win over undecided voters and bolster support in key seats.
With just 48 hours to go, opinion polls continue to suggest the result across the UK is too close to call.
And in Scotland, Labour is fighting hard to fend off the apparent SNP surge which threatens to leave the party with just a handful of MPs.
Labour dismissed reports it was now just concentrating on a dozen or so seats which it believed it could still hold.
One source said: “Every single seat we currently hold we are fighting to hold. We have organisers, paid staff, in over 30 seats across the country.”
The Labour source also claimed the party had shown it could be more successful at getting its supporters to turn out and vote, pointing to the better-than-expected results in the 2012 council elections across Scotland and last year’s European Parliament elections.
As her helicopter tour of Scotland continued, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon appealed to voters “in every corner of the country” to unite behind her party.
She said: “This is an opportunity for Scotland to really make its voice heard in this election and my message goes to people regardless of how they voted in the referendum, even if they’ve never voted SNP before, people in rural Scotland, urban Scotland, island Scotland, Highland and Lowland, in every part of Scotland.”
Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson claimed a Westminster alliance between Labour and the SNP would lead to “militant leftwing policies”.
Ms Davidson insisted: “Britain is facing the desperate prospect of a weak Labour government having its crutches kicked away by an SNP using every vote to make the case for independence.
“It would be a disaster for our economic recovery, with more borrowing and higher taxes to pay for unlimited welfare. The SNP’s real motive would be to drive up resentment – all the better to create a wedge between our great nations.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie argued the SNP’s refusal to rule out a second independence referendum meant the party would be working at Westminster “to set up tricks and traps with which to plunge Scotland into neverendum”.
He said: “Liberal Democrats stand on a positive and hopeful platform of more jobs, lower taxes, more childcare, creating opportunity for all.”
Proclaimers go 500 miles more for SNP as comic Brand backs Miliband
THE Proclaimers have hailed Nicola Sturgeon as bringing a breath of fresh air to UK politics as they pledged their support for the SNP ahead of Thursday’s vote.
In a statement, pop twins Craig and Charlie Reid said: “We’re long-term SNP supporters and, in this most crucial election for a generation, we fully back the SNP. Nicola Sturgeon is the most impressive politician in the UK, her sincerity and humanity are like a breath of fresh air.”
Meanwhile, comedian Russell Brand urged voters to opt for Labour – except in Scotland.
Brand interviewed Labour leader Ed Miliband for his YouTube Trews channel last week, prompting dismissive comments from David Cameron, who branded the comic “a joke”.
Brand previously urged people not to vote because it made little difference.
But in a follow-up video he said: “I know I’ve been Mr Don’t Vote but what I mean is politics isn’t something we can just be involved in once every five years, not just elections.
“Democracy is for every day, not just for elections.
“If you’re Scottish, you don’t need an English person telling you what to do. You know what you’re going to be doing.”
Brand said it would be a travesty if Green MP Caroline Lucas lost her Brighton seat.
But he added: “Anywhere else you have got to vote Labour. You have got to get the Conservative Party out of government.”
He said there were “loads of things” he could complain about with Mr Miliband, from Trident to immigration. But he continued: “What’s important is this bloke will be in parliament and I think this bloke will listen to us.”
‘Campaign has been disappointing’
With just two days left until the polling stations open, we spoke to some undecided News readers
Fiona Boubert, 48, from Dreghorn: “I have not made a final decision on my vote yet but will definitely vote. I have found the campaign very disappointing as I feel that a few topics have overshadowed many other key issues. The campaign also seems to be more about the personalities than the politics.”
Christine Dodyk, who lives in the Edinburgh South area, plans to vote tactically “to keep the Nationalists out”: “They have divided the nation and caused unrest within the Union and I don’t agree with their defence policy. All parties need to plough more funding into the social care sector to alleviate unnecessary admissions to our NHS hospitals which are at breaking point.”
Garry Betts, 52, from Pilton: “I’ve decided to vote SNP, although I’m not a party member, because they are to the left of Labour. I hope for a Labour-led government but with SNP-led sensibility.
“The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was how prior to the indy referendum, the Westminster parties told us how better together we would be, but now all I hear from the very same Better Together voices is the last thing on Earth that they want is us being better together.”
Nigel Burt, from Restalrig, has also decided to back the SNP: “Not being that interested in politics, due to the fact I trust very few politicians, I am opting for the SNP as I think Nicola Sturgeon has performed well against other leaders in debate and has put forward some compelling arguments. Jim Murphy comes over as a bit of a clown to be honest, it’s uncomfortable watching him at times. Ruth Davidson is far more composed and I quite like her forthrightness and apparent honesty, but I don’t like the Tories.”
Ian Tully, from Sighthill: “I am going to vote for the SNP. Generally I find their political stance closest to my own, barring the issue of independence. I have been quite unconvinced by the Labour Party in the debates, and I think Ed Miliband simply lacks what it takes to lead either party or nation.
“David Cameron looks increasingly like a man caught out in a lie. Nicola Sturgeon has performed well in debate, but still leaves unanswered the economic issues that remain from the independence referendum.”
Maeve Robertson. 43, from Corstorphine, has still not finally decided how to vote: “I’m swithering between the Lib Dems and the Greens. I think it will be a coalition. I’m not impressed with Labour or Tory and I don’t want to vote SNP, so I want to vote for one of the other parties that could be involved in the coalition.
“Any time I’ve seen them debate, it descends into bickering. Clegg makes sense and seems more real.
“Cameron has refused to clarify his position on child benefit – I have two kids so that’s important to me. And I’m worried about Europe – I don’t think the UK going out on its own would be good.
“Labour has said nothing to sway me in favour of voting for them. And I’ve never been in favour of the SNP. I don’t think Scotland would thrive on its own.”
Kevin Roarty, 36, from Liberton, is still undecided: “The campaign has all been about who would do a deal with who afterwards rather than the parties’ policies and what they would do. It’s been a bit of a smokescreen.
“I’ve not been impressed with Jim Murphy, he just seems to talk everyone down.
“Nicola Sturgeon comes across very well and so does Ruth Davidson. Neither of them are running, but whether you agree with them or not, they put their case well.
“I’m going to have to do a bit more reading before I decide.”
Duncan Edelston, below, 63, from the West End, says he will probably vote Labour: “Nicola has come out really well in the campaign. She seems able to talk to anyone about anything, both in the media and on walkabouts. I’ve been disappointed with the Labour campaign – I don’t think they have got to grips with the issues at all really.
“But I’m probably going to vote Labour because one of the big issues in Europe. The Con-Dems want a referendum on Europe, which is just nonsense, so there’s no way I’m going to vote Conservative or Liberal Democrat. I can’t see myself voting SNP – although if they had ruled out another referendum, I would probably have gone for them.”