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SNP has ‘ground to cover’ to catch up with Labour in polls, John Swinney says

The SNP leader was campaigning in Dumfries, part of the Dumfries and Galloway constituency won by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack in 2019.

John Swinney

SNP leader John Swinney has conceded his party “has a lot of ground to cover” to catch up with rivals Labour in the polls ahead of the General Election.

Mr Swinney, who took over as SNP leader from Humza Yousaf just three weeks ago, said the party was already united behind him and was “very focused on the election campaign”.

However, polls have shown the party, which for years has been the dominant force in Scottish politics, is now trailing behind Labour in the run-up to the July 4 voting day.

Most recently, a poll by More In Common put support for Labour on 35%, five points ahead of the SNP.

John Swinney was campaigning in the Dumfries and Galloway seat currently held by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Swinney insisted the SNP was “focused on the election as a united party”, adding this was a “significant achievement” which had come about in the “very short space of time” since he took charge.

Speaking to journalists as he campaigned in Dumfries, Mr Swinney said: “I want to make sure we take our message to every part of the country to reclaim the ground the opinion polls indicate we have got to reclaim to be successful.

“The election is the best part of six weeks away and we have got a lot of ground to cover to do that.”

Asked if that meant the SNP was now fighting this election as the “underdog”, the Scottish First Minister said: “That’s an interesting way to put it.

“Actually, it is quite a good way to fight an election campaign, if I think back to the contest in 2017 in my own local area, Perth and North Perthshire.”

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Mr Swinney said in that general election it had been thought the SNP could lose that seat, but he noted: “We fought it as the underdog and we won. So, I think there is maybe something in that.”

The SNP leader was campaigning in the Dumfries and Galloway seat currently held by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack.

Mr Swinney said the Tory cabinet secretary, along with other Scottish Conservative MPs, had “presided over austerity, Brexit and the cost-of-living crisis being inflicted on Scotland” – adding that voters were “angry” about this.

He told people living in those seats held by the Tories in Scotland: “If you want to do something about it, then you vote SNP,  because we are the challenger to the Conservatives in these constituencies, and we can remove those Conservative MPs with SNP votes.

“My message to voters in this part of the country and in other areas where the Conservatives represent the area is to vote SNP to remove the Tories.”

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