Daily election roundup, 27 April

Jobs dominated the political communications yesterday, as first minister Alex Salmond outlined the SNP’s vision for reindustrialising Scotland by meeting the party’s target of 130,000 jobs in the low-carbon sector by 2020.

A word cloud showing the most common words across all of yesterday's press releases. The larger the word, the more it was used.
A word cloud showing the most common words across all of yesterday's press releases. The larger the word, the more it was used.

Speaking on a campaign visit to Steel Engineering Ltd in Renfrew, Mr Salmond said:

“By 2020, our target is to have 130,000 jobs in the low carbon sector. That is a goal which will see the reindustrialisation of Scotland on a huge scale – and just as our shipyards were the workshop of the world in the 19th century, the green energy revolution gives us the chance to become the hi-tech workshop of the world in the 21st century.

Also raising jobs profile, SNP candidate for Aberdeen Central, Kevin Stewart, said Ed Balls had blundered by exposing Labour dishonesty on the issue of changes to offshore oil taxation.

Mr Balls is quoted in the Press & Journal saying the oil tax changes were a mistake but when a vote to oppose those tax changes was held in the UK parliament on 29 March 2011 he failed to vote against them despite voting in two other divisions.

Commenting Mr Stewart said:

“Ed Balls came north to lecture Scots about their country but has now been caught out being dishonest about Labour’s position on oil tax. It is hypocrisy for him to say he now opposes a tax on oil jobs when he failed to try and stop it in a key vote.

“It yet again shows why no-one can trust a word Labour says – that the rhetoric doesn’t meet the reality.”

Labour accused the SNP of the same, however, as it emerged that a flagship SNP council has been forced to admit that compulsory redundancies have not only been made in the last year, but the option cannot be entirely ruled out.

The SNP manifesto states that the party is “committed to a policy of no compulsory redundancies”.

However, documents released by Fife council reveal that the SNP-led administration in Fife made 191 compulsory redundancies last year alone.

As part of plans to axe around 500 staff in a bid to save £16 million over the next year, SNP council leader Peter Grant has admitted that “there will be occasions when compulsory redundancies can’t be avoided” and Sharon McKenzie, Fife council’s human resources manager, has said that “redundancies can’t always be confined to the volunteer pool.”

Scottish Labour’s candidate in Mid Fife and Glenrothes, Claire Baker, said:

“This latest revelation comes as a humiliating blow to one of the SNP’s key election pledges. It speaks volumes that one of the SNP’s flagship councils has already made almost 200 compulsory redundancies and is now admitting that more are on the table.”

Next on the word cloud are the two largest parties’ leaders with Alex, Salmond, Iain and Gray placing unusually highly. The appearance of both leaders’ names is linked to the rather odd appearance of asda, and supermarket – both of which appear on the right of our cloud – as the supermarket’s Ardrossan branch was the site of a clash between the two parties.

Both men were campaigning in Ardrossan last night, when Iain Gray and his campaign team stopped at an Asda supermarket to pick up some provisions on the way to a public meeting in Ardrossan Civic Centre.

Unbeknown to them, Alex Salmond was campaigning in the same supermarket – but Labour claim that he was ushered up the aisles and kept shielded from Mr Gray.

Scottish Labour Leader Iain Gray said:

“If I’d have known Alex Salmond was there, I’d have gone up and asked him why he is hiding his date for an independence referendum. Sadly he was kept well hidden until I’d left.”

The SNP tell it differently, claiming that it was Iain Gray, not Mr Salmond who fled the store after being approached by the local newspaper.

SNP campaign manager Angus Robertson commented on footage taken by Kevin Paterson, reporting for the Ardrossan Herald, which shows Iain Gray leaving the store, turning to avoid an SNP activist and ignoring a question from someone in the shop asking “are you not hanging about?”

Mr Roberston said:

“This footage makes an absolute mockery of the claims in a Labour press release issued this morning and raises serious questions about the negativity, dirty tricks and misinformation at the heart of Labour’s “re-launched” campaign.”

Mr Gray’s comment referred to Labour’s call for the SNP to name the date of their proposed referendum on independence. The Scottish Labour leader called for the SNP to reveal their date saying:

“Don’t hide your plan for independence. Tell Scotland the date you want to hold the referendum and tell us today.

“Don’t hide behind the pathetic excuse that it would be a ‘mistake’ to reveal the date you already know. If Labour forms the next government, we will not be distracted by a constant campaign to break up the UK. It will be jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs again.”

Services, local and communities appear as Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott joined Alison Hay, Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Argyll and Bute and Alan Reid, Liberal Democrat MP for Argyll and Bute at Connel post office in Oban to campaign on the party’s plan to continue the Post Office Diversification Fund.

Commenting, Tavish Scott said:

“The Connel post office is a local store, cafe, paper shop and a post office. We want to see more post offices growing their businesses and cementing their place at their heart of their local community.

“They are a genuine lifeline for many vulnerable and older people in particular. We need to protect these services.”

Scottish Greens dismissed this claim, however, pointing to the privatisation of Royal Mail being championed by Vince Cable.

Legislation to enable Royal Mail to be privatised is just weeks away from completing its passage through Westminster. Greens argue that the Royal Mail is a vital public service that should stay in public hands.

Patrick Harvie, the Greens’ top candidate in Glasgow, said:

“It’s bare-faced cheek for Liberal Democrats to be posing outside post offices pretending to care about them while Uncle Vince in Westminster is getting ready to sell off the Royal Mail for a short-term profit. It’s time for the Lib Dems to understand that we are talking about a genuine public service, not just some indistinguishable commercial operation, and that if they had any principles whatsoever they’d be opposing these daft plans.”

Also campaigning for better local services, Scottish Conservatives unveiled plans for another round of town centre regeneration funding, totalling £140m over the course of the next Scottish parliament.

In the last parliament, Scottish Conservatives delivered a £60m Town Centre Regeneration Fund, which benefited communities the length and breadth of Scotland.

Speaking from Peterhead Harbour in Banffshire & Buchan Coast, where she was joined by local candidate Michael Watt, Annabel Goldie, Scottish Conservative leader, said:

“Scottish Conservatives pledged a Town Centre Regeneration Fund in our last manifesto and we delivered. We delivered £60m of help to town centres and high streets across Scotland, despite Labour and the Lib Dems trying to vote it down.

“That is real help in these tough times and, because we have taken difficult decisions, we can do more to boost local economies and give people more pride in their community.”