As the longest election I can remember comes to a close it’s clear that many people are still making up their minds. Even tonight going round the doors I met people who had not decided how to vote. Easter, the Royal Wedding, the May Day weekend and some fantastic weather have combined to provide a diversion from the election. There’s also a fair degree of cynicism, especially amongst former Lib Dem voters that promises are made before elections – only to be dropped immediately after power is gained.
So today we were focusing on the real choice facing people tomorrow – Labour’s Plan for Jobs or the SNP’s Plan for Independence. Iain Gray was in town as part of his marathon 40 hours of non-stop campaigning, spearheading Labour’s final push for votes. Before arriving in Edinburgh he’d travelled across Scotland, visited bakeries, distribution centres and met commuters going to work. The aim was to highlight the different priorities that Scottish Labour and the SNP have going into the final hours of the campaign.
As the media followed us in our Grassmarket walkabout, Iain was clear “Scotland is in the grip of a jobs crisis and we need a government that has a plan to deal with it. Alex Salmond’s legacy is that he moved Scotland from having the lowest unemployment in the UK to having some of the highest. This week he claimed that 13,000 job losses were ‘insignificant’. That’s why we need to focus on the things that really matter, that’s why I have a plan for jobs and growth.”
I’ve received many questions from voters over the last couple of months about my views on issues such as carers, climate change, support for nurses, investment in higher education, cuts in local services, marine protection, cancer care, equal marriage, action on poverty, low carbon jobs, animal welfare, woodlands, affordable and sustainable housing and renewables. I’ve tried to answer them all. On some of these issues there will be a degree of cross party agreement – on others totally different solutions. But at the end of the day it will be the parties’ core priorities that matter.
For me how we make the most of our resources and the focus of the next government is the key question. I believe Scottish Government action to create jobs and training and protecting our front line services from the impact of the UK Government’s damaging cuts have to be the top priorities for the next five years. There will be opportunities to be seized if we can come out of the recession such as creating new green jobs for the future. There are also opportunities to develop policies for people to be lifted out of poverty and have access to decent education, health services and housing. That would be my choice of where we put our energies – not preparing plans for separation from the rest of the UK.
Voting is from 7am till 10pm tomorrow. Make sure you use both your constituency and your regional list votes for Scottish Labour.