Vote for a future ‘made in Scotland’, Swinney tells voters

John Swinney has urged people to “vote for a future made in Scotland, for Scotland” by backing the SNP, as he formally launched the party’s General Election campaign.

Speaking to activists and candidates at a rally in Glasgow on Sunday, Mr Swinney said that Westminster decision-making has meant “austerity, Brexit and a cost-of-living crisis being imposed on Scotland”.

He said he passionately believed independence is the “best opportunity we have to build a more prosperous and fairer country”.

And he urged people to vote SNP in the July 4 election to “put Scotland’s interests first” and to remove the Tories from government.

He said: “At this election, my priority is to protect Scotland. Let’s ensure the decade of destructive decisions at Westminster is never again visited upon the Scottish people.

“I ask people to vote SNP so that decisions can be made in Scotland, for Scotland.”

He added: “I’m asking people to vote SNP to put Scotland’s interests first. I’m asking you to work with me, in a strong, unified team, to encourage people to vote for a future made in Scotland, for Scotland.””

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said that Mr Swinney had used his speech to “double down on the SNP’s independence obsession, instead of focusing on the people’s real priorities”, while shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray described it as a “chaotic relaunch”.

Mr Swinney said the SNP has “transformed” the lives of people in Scotland,  highlighting free prescriptions, the abolition of university tuition fees, free bus travel for under-22s and the Scottish child payment.

He said the party is focused on people’s top priorities, such as the cost of living and the NHS, and said “that laser-like focus on the daily concerns of people is our guiding star”.

General Election campaign 2024
Candidates and activists joined Mr Swinney at the rally in Glasgow (Jane Barlow/PA)

In his speech Mr Swinney criticised the Tories and Labour.

He said: “Austerity from the Conservative Government has been a curse that is inflicting significant damage on the NHS, housing and other public services.

“Brexit alone has wiped billions from the Scottish economy compared with EU membership.

“And it’s pushed up food, mortgages and other household costs.”

He said that while he is not saying Labour are the same as the Tories “they are giving an awfully good impersonation of them”.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn also spoke at the rally and said: “Scotland deserves so much more and that is why all of us on this stage and all of you in this room are for Scotland, it’s why we always put Scotland’s interests first.

“We believe in better, we believe in a nation where we can invest in our future.”

Commenting on Mr Swinney’s speech, Mr Ross said: “Predictably, he used it to double down on the SNP’s independence obsession, instead of focusing on the people’s real priorities, fixing our ailing public services and growing the economy.

General Election campaign 2024
Scottish National Party Westminster leader Stephen Flynn also spoke at the event (Jane Barlow/PA)

“As he showed in the Matheson scandal, John Swinney will always put party before country.

“He had the brass neck to say he wants to bring people together, when he is pandering to his nationalist base and pitting Scot against Scot in a bid to break up the UK.

“Voters who have had enough of SNP incompetence and their endless sowing of division have the chance to punish them on July 4.

“In key seats across the country, only the Scottish Conservatives can beat the SNP and move the focus on to the issues that really matter.”

Mr Murray said: “Mere minutes into the SNP’s chaotic relaunch it was clear that it was shaping up to be a crash landing.”

He added: “This is a dysfunctional party that is desperately clutching at straws as they await the reckoning of the Scottish people.

“With almost one in six Scots on NHS waiting lists, our public services in disarray and nearly half a billion of vital funding being handed back it is no wonder that the SNP has decided to attack Labour rather than defend its indefensible record.

“This election is a chance for change that Scotland cannot afford to miss.”