Labour closing gap in polls will focus minds of voters, Ruth Davidson says

May 26 2017, 12.11amUpdated: May 27 2017, 2.41am
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A poll showing Theresa May’s lead over Jeremy Corbyn has slipped to just five points will “focus the minds” of voters, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has said.

The research indicates Mr Corbyn, a veteran left-winger, could “potentially” be prime minister after June 8 – with Ms Davidson keen to stress there is “no safe way to vote Labour”.

She took to the streets in East Renfrewshire, which was the safest Conservative seat in Scotland 20 years ago but was won by the SNP from Labour in the last general election.

Blair McDougall, who was campaign chief for Better Together in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum, is Scottish Labour’s candidate for the area.

Ms Davidson wants her Scottish Conservatives to win the support of pro-Union voters.

She spoke out as election campaigning resumed across the UK following the Manchester bombing, which claimed 22 lives and left scores of people injured.

The first opinion poll carried out since the suicide bomb attack suggested the Conservatives’ advantage over Labour had narrowed to just five points.

The YouGov survey for The Times, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, put the Conservatives down a point on the previous week on 43% and Labour up three on 38%.

The results reflect a significant tightening in the race for the June 8 General Election, which was called in April at a point when Theresa May’s party was enjoying a seemingly unassailable lead of as much as 24 points over Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.

Ms Davidson said: ” This is going to focus minds on the idea that there could potentially be a Jeremy Corbyn prime ministership.

“If you don’t want Jeremy Corbyn to be the prime minister of this country, if you don’t believe he’s equipped to be the prime minister of this country, there’s no safe way to vote Labour.

“In a Scottish context, people right across Scotland are switching from Labour to the Conservatives because they know we’re the only people who can take on the SNP.”

She said it was ” absolutely right” political campaigning had ceased in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing – but also said it was important politicians were once again back out on the election trail.

Ms Davidson said: “T he people who are attacking our country and other countries, it’s because they don’t like our freedoms, they don’t like our values , they don’t like our democracy.

“That’s why it’s so important that we get back out there, because we can’t let them win, we can’t show people they’re having an impact.”

Mr Corbyn highlighted the link between the UK’s involvement in foreign wars and terrorism at home as he insisted t he ”war on terror has not worked”.

Ms Davidson responded: ” Do you know who is to blame for that bombing? The bomber, that’s who’s to blame.

“He targeted innocent young girls, it was abhorrent.”

She continued: “The ideology behind that attack is one we’ve seen elsewhere.

“We’ve seen it in America in the Twin Towers attack, we’ve seen it in Sweden and Belgium who haven’t take the same foreign policies decisions as us, we’ve seen it in France, who have sometimes taken the direct opposite foreign policy decisions to us.”

She said it was important not to let the “freedom-hating ideology” of terrorists ” change the way in which we go about our lives”.

Ms Davidson said: ” Yes, we need to put in place security arrangements to keep us all safe, but we shouldn’t alter our fundamental freedoms because that makes us who we are.

“I n terms of Jeremy Corbyn and his wider foreign policy point, I think there an awful lot of people out there who don’t share Jeremy Corbyn’s view of the world.”

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale insisted her party is in “pole position to defeat the SNP” in a number of seats across the central belt.

Campaigning in East Lothian, Ms Dugdale said: ” Only by backing Labour in these marginal seats can voters send a message to Nicola Sturgeon to get back to the day job.

“She should drop her obsession with an unwanted and unnecessary second independence referendum and tackle the crisis in our schools and hospitals.

“Teachers and nurses have told her about the problems our public services are facing – and only Labour has a plan that would deliver a multi-billion pound investment for Scotland.

“A vote for any other party in places such as East Lothian will simply let the SNP back in.”

Kirsten Oswald, SNP candidate for East Renfrewshire, said: ” Labour can’t win this election in Scotland and a vote for them will risk letting Tory MPs in the back door.

“Only the SNP will speak up for Scotland rather than simply take orders from Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn.

“Now, more than ever, it is vital to have strong SNP voices standing up for Scotland.

“Only then can we protect Scotland from the dangers of an unopposed Tory government at Westminster.”

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