The Scottish election campaign is entering the home stretch this week, with the May 6 election coming into sight over the horizon.
This week party leaders criss-crossed the country from Aberdeen to the Borders as they leaned into the details of manifesto policies to try and reach as many voters as possible before polling day.
Here’s a look at the top 10 political must-reads from the last week:
1. Political engagement:The coronavirus pandemic has seen voters exposed to an almost constant diet of daily briefings over the last year, but have we become more politically engaged as a result? Correspondent Adele Merson took a look at the issue to find out what experts have to say and you can read Adele’s story here.
2. Boris Johnson scandals: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been engulfed by scandals this week, as the bitter recriminations from his falling out with former close aide Dominic Cummings continue. The Scottish National Party are demanding the PM faces the scrutiny of parliament over comments he allegedly made that he was prepared to let “bodies pile high” instead of ordering another round of full restrictions. Andy Philip covered that story, and you can read his reporting here.
3. Lib Dems double down on Tories: The UK Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey will be making his second campaign visit to Scotland this coming week, and ahead of his trip north he claimed the controversy surrounding Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat refurbishment – the other scandal engulfing the PM – could help lead to Liberal Democrat gains across Scotland on election day. Reporter Calum Ross has been following that story, and you can read more here.
4. Labour candidate snafus: One Scottish Labour candidate is having a ‘mare of a week on the campaign trail. Graeme McKenzie, the candidate for Angus South, has already apologised once for a “clanger” after posting on social media he was leafleting in Forfar, which is not even in his constituency. As Courier political editor Paul Malik reports, the would-be MSP has now published campaign materials promising “recovery for Liff, Arbroath, Forfar, Carnoustie and everywhere in between”. Unfortunately Forfar is not in the constituency he’s vying to represent. Read more about the geographically-challenged candidate here.
5. Salmond debate shut-out: Should Alex Salmond, the leader of the new Alba Party, be automatically included in TV debate involving main party leaders? The former first minister certainly thinks so, but new polling released this week finds almost 60% of people polled disagree, as reporter Derek Healey explains.
6. Greens make ‘sunset’ jobs promise: The Scottish Greens say they’ll give a “job guarantee” for all oil and gas workers as the industry transitions to green energy jobs. Speaking on our Election Hub Live politics show, Greens Co-leader Lorna Slater this week said there’s “no question” that production in the North Sea has to be phased out “to meet our legal obligations under the Paris Agreement” but that her party would work to ensure it was a painless transition for workers. Read more here.
7. Election promises vs reality: Election promises by the SNP, Labour and Conservatives are disconnected from “fiscal reality”, according to a critical analysis of their manifestos. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the three largest parties underestimate how hard it will be to pay for pledges and are failing to level with voters on the scale of the challenge. Andy Philip reported on this issue, and you can read his story at this link.
8. Nicola Sturgeon in-depth interview: The first minister says now is the time to be “serious” about Scotland’s future as she defended her plan for an independence referendum in the next parliamentary session. She made the comments in a sit-down interview with The Courier editor David Clegg this week, the last of our in-depth conversations with the leaders of Scotland’s main political parties. The SNP leader said she has learned tough lessons during the deadly pandemic and would not jeopardise the return to public safety.
9. Willie Rennie on ‘cavalier’ Greens: Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has accused the Scottish Greens of “almost repeating the mistakes of Margaret Thatcher from the 1980s” over their proposals for the oil and gas industry. In an exclusive interview with Adele Merson, Mr Rennie claimed the Green proposals would not actually tackle climate change and described their policies as “cavalier and crude”. Read Adele’s story here.
10. Sturgeon to Johnson – see you in court! Nicola Sturgeon has told Boris Johnson she will see him in court if he tries to stop a second independence referendum. The SNP leader issued the warning to the prime minister amid tetchy exchanges during the third televised leaders’ debate of the Holyrood election campaign earlier this week. She challenged him to try to legally prevent her party from progressing legislation for a referendum, which she said the SNP would pursue even if the UK Government continues to refuse to grant Holyrood the legal powers for a vote, in the same way as in 2014. Reporter Calum Ross covered that story and you can read it at this link.
Bonus: If you didn’t catch the latest episode of our politics podcast The Stooshie you can listen to the discussion with Paul Malik, Andy Philip and David Clegg at this link, or wherever you get your podcast content like Spotify or iTunes, to #BeBetterBriefed.