Alex Salmond launched the SNP’s Scottish election campaign today with a warning that his party would need 40 per cent of the vote to beat Labour.
The SNP leader said that the expected collapse of the Liberal Democrat vote and the probable inability of the Tories to make gains would mean that the threshold for victory will be even steeper than usual.
The Nationalists won the 2007 election on 33 per cent of the vote and Mr Salmond warned his activists that a similar figure would not be enough this time.
He said: “We will need 40 per cent to win this election.”
Mr Salmond portrayed the contest as a straight fight between the SNP and Labour to win over the collapsing Lib Dem vote with the first party to hit the 40 per cent mark the likely winner.
He said: “This time we have to campaign with the objective of securing 40 per cent of the vote. The recent polls show us within touching distance of that objective.
“Polls show us four per cent higher in the vote now than when we were elected, and the contest as we go into the campaign is neck and neck.”
Speaking to a launch meeting of activists and candidates in Edinburgh, Mr Salmond insisted that the SNP had “nothing to fear” from the campaign.
He stressed that he loved elections and campaigns but he still tried to portray his party as the underdogs, arguing that this was an election which the party could win, rather than suggesting that it was an election the party would win.
Mr Salmond declared: “There is no question that this is a time of great pressure for many, many people in Scotland but it is also a time of political opportunity.”
The SNP leader added: “We will work hard over the next 43 days to win re-election from the people of Scotland, confident in the knowledge that we have the team, the record and the vision to take this nation forward.
“What is going to make the difference is the confidence we have, our belief in what we’ve done, in what we still have to do and in our future. That will make the difference, that will take this government to re-election and this nation to independence.”
Gray: Salmond ‘deceiving’ voters
Launching his party’s campaign in Edinburgh East, Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said: “It’s only day one of the election campaign and already Alex Salmond has been desperately trying to deceive voters.
“The facts speak for themselves and people won’t be fooled by his attempt to spin a web of deceit.
“Scotland deserves a better government. For the past four years the SNP has broken over a hundred promises and wasted too much time pushing for independence.
“Labour will focus on what really matters like jobs and growing the economy. That’s the message I’ll be taking to voters over the next 48 hours as I continue my tour of battleground seats.”