Home Entertainment Swinney’s ‘desperate’ campaign relaunch as SNP double down on independence ‘obsession’

Swinney’s ‘desperate’ campaign relaunch as SNP double down on independence ‘obsession’


The SNP was yesterday accused of a ‘desperate attempt’ to relaunch its ailing election campaign as John Swinney ‘doubled down’ on the party’s independence obsession.

The SNP leader joined his UK election candidates at a Glasgow hotel where he claimed that Westminster decision- making had meant ‘austerity, Brexit and a cost of living crisis being imposed on Scotland’.

Mr Swinney said he had ignored the suggestion that independence should be abandoned, telling campaigners: ‘People want us to demonstrate the relevance of independence to their lives.’

But he was accused of putting ‘party before country’ by the Scottish Tories who claimed he should be ‘focusing on the people’s real priorities – fixing our ailing public services and growing the economy’.

Pensive: John Swinney yesterday, just before his address to the party faithful

Pensive: John Swinney yesterday, just before his address to the party faithful

Mr Swinney admitted that if his party did not show independence was relevant then it was not ‘likely to get much of a hearing in the midst of a cost of living crisis and, to be frank, nor would we deserve to’.

He added: ‘So, when we talk about independence we need to demonstrate again, and again, and again, that we are talking about people’s core concerns like raising living standards and protecting the NHS.

‘That laser-like focus on the daily concerns of people is our guiding star.

‘After looking at Keir Starmer’s serial U-turns in the pursuit of power, I think people are crying out for political leadership that sticks to its principles.’

Asked what more he can say that has not already been said to sway the independence argument, Mr Swinney said: ‘What I’ve been trying to do over the last couple of weeks is relate independence to the everyday lives of people.’

He said the message would focus on ‘ABC’ – austerity, Brexit and the cost of living crisis, and added: ‘We can deliver, we can take the right decisions here in Scotland.

‘But if the powers lie at Westminster then we are liable to get more of the standard of decision-making, if I can call it that, of austerity, Brexit and the cost of living crisis.

‘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.’

The SNP leader did not deny the event was his party’s third campaign launch of the year – the first being in January with Humza Yousaf as leader and the second taking place the day following the General Election announcement.

He said: ‘Folk can muck about with whatever terminology they want.

‘This is a gathering; a gathering of good, solid folk who want to work together to achieve success for the SNP and for Scottish independence.’

The relaunch follows the ongoing controversy around Michael Matheson’s expenses scandal and the failure of Mr Swinney to vote for the sanctions that were handed to him last week. 

He claimed he was unable to vote for them because he believed that the process was flawed.

It also came in the wake of a poll for Scotland on Sunday which showed that 59 per cent of Scots think the case for breaking with the Union has not strengthened since the 2014 referendum.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said: ‘This was a desperate attempt by John Swinney to relaunch the SNP’s election campaign in the wake of his shameful mishandling of the Michael Matheson scandal.

‘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.

‘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.’

In a frosty question and answer session with the media following the launch, Mr Swinney was forced to ask activists not to heckle the media after they booed a BBC Scotland journalist who asked a question about independence.

Labour candidate Ian Murray, who is fighting to retain the Edinburgh South seat, said: ‘Mere minutes into the SNP’s chaotic relaunch, it was clear that it was shaping up to be a crash landing. This is a dysfunctional party that is desperately clutching at straws as they await the reckoning of the Scottish people.’

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