Campaigning in the Scottish local government elections has reached its final week, with polling due next Thursday (4 May).
As the 2017 Westminster campaign warms up, none of the major UK political parties have been able to provide a firm date for the publication of their manifestos. The Lib Dems expect to be able to set a date within the next couple of weeks and the Labour manifesto should be finalised in the second week of May, as should be the Conservatives. The SNP manifesto will be published around the same time as the main UK parties.
Rumours the Conservatives will include an energy price cap for lower paid workers emerged this week, and a new Labour government would seek to create four new UK-wide bank holidays. The holidays would be on each nation’s patron saint day – including St Andrew’s Day on 30 November. Labour has also pledged to introduce a “radical extension of devolution” after Brexit which would include Holyrood, although no further details were forthcoming at this time.
All the parties have been scrambling to select candidates and that has been the main focus over the past seven days. Four Tory MSPs have stepped forward with Borders MSP John Lamont, resigning his constituency seat to try and unseat SNP MP Calum Kerr. This will be his third attempt but polls suggest he will overturn the wafer-thin 328 majority.
Former Labour MSP Cara Hilton hopes to retake Dunfermline, having lost her parallel Holyrood seat to SNP last May. And two former Lib Dems MPs, Jo Swinson in East Dunbartonshire and Alan Reid in Argyll and Bute, are seeking a comeback.
The prospect of a second independence referendum is never far away and another new (Kantar) opinion poll suggests a sharp drop in support. 37% said yes and 55% said no, but once ‘Don’t Knows’ were stripped out, the split was 60%-40% in favour of remaining in the UK. In the equivalent poll last August, the split was 53% to 47% against independence. Significantly, 30% of those who voted Yes at the last independence referendum and Leave in the EU referendum are among those who do not want to see another Scottish poll.
Our focus next week will be on the council elections but after that all eyes will be on the Westminster poll on 8 June.
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