Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has claimed that his party is a “better” choice for voters in Scotland than either Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP or Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.
With the Scottish parliament election due to take place in May, Sir Ed is making his pitch to voters north of the border in a speech to the Scottish Liberal Democrat online conference.
He has accused the UK and Scottish governments of having used the coronavirus pandemic as “fuel in their never-ending constitutional war”, while claiming the SNP is putting “another independence referendum before the recovery from the pandemic”.
He has insisted it is the job of “true” leaders to “bring people together, not push them further apart” – contrasting the behaviour of politicians with that of those responding to the Covid-19 crisis.
Sir Ed said: “When I talk to voters, it’s not constitutional affairs that are on their mind – it’s the state of the care service, their daughter’s job, their brother’s operation.
“People have had enough of all the arguments over the constitution and they want to put the recovery first.
“Throughout this pandemic the Liberal Democrats have worked with others. It is in our nature. We worked hard to deliver extra business support, testing and a faster vaccine programme.
“Too often, Scotland’s two governments have used the pandemic as fuel in their never-ending constitutional war. They’re happy for the public to watch them slug it out.
“Boris Johnson is hoping that you will forget that we’re only in lockdown three because he made such a mess of the first two. And Nicola Sturgeon is hoping that you’ll forget the flames of internal party warfare barely concealed beneath the surface of the SNP.”
Sir Ed added that while the SNP and Tories “squabble”, people’s jobs and lives are being put on the line.
Speaking about his political rivals, he said: “I wish they could take a lesson from the selfless community activists who have pulled together. Neighbours bringing food and medicines to those who are shielding or self-isolating. The NHS staff who have kept calm and carried on in the face of grave horrors.
“Instead, people are being offered a Scottish Conservative Party in the pocket of Boris Johnson’s Vote Leave cronies or a Scottish nationalist party that will put another independence referendum before the recovery from the pandemic.
“What kind of choice is that? Liberal Democrats can offer the public something better.”