The SNP’s Westminster leader has said that Labour and Liberal Democrat voters in Scotland should vote for his party to block the Conservatives.
Stephen Flynn has urged opposition supporters to lend their support to the SNP at the next general election, which will be held before 2025, to avoid “wasted” votes.
It comes after the party’s Westminster deputy leader, Mhairi Black, said a strong team of SNP MPs would help “drag Labour to the left” and ensure the UK Government keeps its promises to Scotland.
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie has called the plea a “desperate ploy” amid a turbulent few weeks for the SNP following a police probe into its finances and a search for auditors.
In the six Tory-held seats in Scotland – which include Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross’s Moray constituency – the SNP is marginally behind.
Ross won the Moray seat in 2019 with a reduced majority over the SNP, with 22,112 votes, a decline in the vote share of 2.2%.
Flynn said that if just 11% of Labour and Liberal Democrat voters lend their votes to the SNP, the Scottish Tory leader will lose his seat.
Meanwhile, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack beat the SNP by 1,805 votes in Dumfries and Galloway, while West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie, who is also under secretary of state for exports, was re-elected in 2019 with a reduced majority of 843.
Flynn added: “Voting SNP is the only way to beat the Tories in Scotland at the next election – and a strong team of SNP MPs can ensure Scotland holds the balance of power at Westminster.
“The SNP is the main competitor in every Tory-held seat, and the incumbent in every target seat – so a vote for the Labour Party or the Liberal Democrats is a wasted vote that risks letting the Tories in the back door, just like it did last time.
“In 2019, the SNP halved the number of Tory seats in Scotland – and at this election we can finish the job but only if enough Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters lend the SNP their votes.
“By voting SNP, we can lock the Tories out of Scotland at this election – and rid ourselves of Westminster Tory governments for good with independence.”
Baillie, however, said: “As they watch their own vote share collapse, it is no surprise that the SNP has turned to such a desperate ploy.
“This is a move from a party that is mired in scandal, out of touch with Scotland and scared for the next general election.
“Only Labour can boot the Tories out across the entire UK and deliver the change that people in Scotland need.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine also said the comment “smacks of desperation”.
She added: “A vote for the Liberal Democrats means getting politicians who put the issues that matter front and centre of the agenda, from battling the crisis in our NHS to cleaning up the sewage in our rivers and getting islanders the ferries that have never arrived.”
Craig Hoy, Scottish Tory chairman, said: “The SNP have cottoned on to what Scotland’s voters already know – that the Scottish Conservatives are the only credible threat to the nationalists in a large number of seats up and down Scotland.
“Only we can keep them out in numerous Westminster constituencies – not Labour or the Lib Dems.
“The SNP recognise that fact and are fearful of it. That’s why they’ve made this desperate plea to pro-Union voters.
“But it won’t work because those voters are sick and tired of the SNP ignoring the public’s real priorities – like the cost-of-living crisis and unacceptable NHS waiting times – to relentlessly push their independence obsession.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country