Parties make final pleas to voters on last day of election campaign

Politicians are crossing the country in an effort to shore up support and win over those who remain undecided.

Political parties are stepping up their campaigns in the final hours before polls open in the General Election.

Voters will decide the next UK Government at the ballot box on Thursday, with the first results set to be declared in the early hours of Friday morning.

Politicians are crossing the country in an effort to shore up support and win over those who are still to make up their minds

All of the parties have released their manifestos – a document which sets out their vision for the country and the policies they want to enact.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar says Scots can use their vote to “end the Tory nightmare”.

On the day before polls open, the Scottish Labour leader said his party will “secure a better future for Scotland”.

He also cautioned voters against five more years of the “sleazy Tories”.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JUNE 18: Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar launches the party's general election manifesto on June 18, 2024 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Scottish Labour have already pledged to deliver a pay rise for 200,000 lowest-paid workers, 160,000 more NHS appointments, and publicly-owned energy headquartered in Scotland to bring new jobs and reduce bills. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Getty Images

Sarwar said: “This election is an opportunity for change that Scotland cannot afford to miss.

“Imagine waking up on Friday to the news of five more years under the Tories – the same sleazy Tories that put party before country, crashed the economy and left ordinary families to pick up the bill.

“But with a simple cross in a box on Thursday, Scots can end the Tory nightmare and deliver a transformative Labour government with Scotland at its heart.

“A Labour government in the service of working people with Scottish MPs at its heart is in reach – but only if you vote for it.

“This election is a straight choice between a broken status quo with two bad governments, or change with Labour.”

But the Scottish Conservatives said the election is a chance for Scots to end the SNP’s independence obsession for good.

Scottish Parliament TV

The party’s chairman Craig Hoy said: “If voters back the Scottish Conservatives in key seats across Scotland where it’s a straight, and very close, fight between us and the SNP, the nationalists can be heavily defeated.

“But a vote for any other party in these key seats – including Reform or Labour – risks the SNP getting in by the back door.

“It’s only the Scottish Conservatives who have provided an effective opposition to the SNP, while Labour have backed them on a host of issues including abandoning oil and gas workers, raising taxes, gender self-ID and the Hate Crime Act.”

The Scottish Conservatives also said just a small number of votes for Reform UK will see the SNP handed seats in Scotland.

Opinion polls indicate the SNP and Labour are engaged in a two-way race in Scotland, with seat projections suggesting the Tories may hold on to the same number of seats they won in the previous election.

In recent days, the party has urged Scottish voters not to shift to Reform.

Hoy said: “In those key seats, no other party can win. Reform, Labour and the Lib Dems are simply too far behind.

“Even a small number of votes for Reform could lead to big wins for the SNP.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Greens say the climate crisis has to be the top priority for the next UK Government.

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Speaking on the eve of polling, and following a visit to a world leading tidal energy project in Orkney on Tuesday, party co-leader Lorna Slater said: “Of all the issues that the next Prime Minister will face, the climate crisis is the most urgent and severe.

“The destruction of our environment and our natural world are accelerating. We can all see this in our own lives – and from the daily reports of extreme weather and extinctions around the globe.

“How the UK rises to these existential threats should have been the main story of this election, yet it has largely been ignored by all of the other parties. Even the CBI are now warning that this “deafening silence” on the key issues of our time is dangerous.”

First Minister John Swinney warned some Scots could be “disenfranchised” if their postal votes cannot be filled out and returned on time.

Numerous voters north of the border have reported still not having received their ballots, and many have now left for a holiday overseas.

The electoral watchdog has said it recognises the pressures on the postal voting system due to the holiday season and will look into its administration after this election.

It comes as Downing Street said Rishi Sunak was not concerned that some people could be disenfranchised by delays to receiving their postal votes ahead of polling day.

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Swinney said: “For the Prime Minister to dismiss and ignore the concerns of Scottish voters who are being denied their right to vote is a democratic disgrace.

“For voters in Scotland who will get the chance to vote on Thursday, it’s one more reason to give this Prime Minister and the Tories the democratic drubbing they so richly deserve.

“Ever since this election was called, the SNP has been sounding the alarm over the potential disenfranchisement of Scottish voters due to its timing during the Scottish school holidays. Unfortunately, those warnings have now come to pass.”

Swinney will use a speech on Wednesday evening to warn that some seats will be decided “by only a handful of votes”.

The SNP leader will also seek to stress how tight some races north of the border are, urging voters to turn out.

“There are seats that could be decided by only a handful of votes,” he is expected to say. Be certain about one thing – your vote will matter. It could make all the difference.

“The election in Scotland is the only place where there are genuine, competing visions of the future at stake – a real contest of ideas and values.

“Labour are offering Scotland more of the same and picking up where the Tories left off.

“More cuts, opening the door to privatisation of the NHS, Brexit and capping child benefits but not bankers’ bonuses.

“The SNP is offering Scotland a different vision. A vision of hope for a better future.”

Elsewhere, Alex Cole-Hamilton said only the Scottish Liberal Democrat had a plan to place to improve the NHS and social care in Scotland.

The Scottish Lib Dem leader said: “Only we have a plan to fix the crisis in social care, enabling people to leave hospital and relieving pressure on the NHS through a minimum wage for care workers that is £2 higher.

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“Every vote for the Liberal Democrats this Thursday is a vote to fix care and save the NHS.”

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