Davey: SNP infighting presents opportunity for Lib Dems

Infighting within the SNP leadership contest gives the Liberal Democrats the opportunity to “resonate” with Scots on the important issues, Sir Ed Davey has said.

The Lib Dem leader was speaking as he visited the “knife-edge” marginal seat of East Dunbartonshire on Thursday, joining the party’s candidate Susan Murray on the campaign trail ahead of the next general election.

The constituency is the most marginal in Scotland, with former Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson being unseated by the SNP’s Amy Callaghan by just 149 votes in 2019.

Former UK energy and climate change secretary Sir Ed replaced Ms Swinson as Lib Dem leader and is now hoping his party can win back lost seats from the SNP.

Jo Swinson
Jo Swinson, then the Lib Dem leader, lost her East Dunbartonshire seat at the 2019 general election (PA)

Speaking on a visit to the Energy Technical Academy in Kirkintilloch, he said his party is focusing on issues like the economy and health, while SNP leadership hopefuls battle it out on the constitutional question.

He told the PA news agency: “The SNP leadership candidates seem to be arguing amongst each other, talking about independence and separation when voters want to know what they can do about the health service, about the cost of living and about schools.

“What Susan Murray, our Liberal Democrat candidate here in East Dunbartonshire, is talking about is exactly those issues.

“We’re fighting the Conservatives in many parts of England and here in Scotland it’s the SNP. I think we’ve got a message which is resonating with voters in the way that the SNP are forgetting them.”

Sir Ed said Ms Murray, who is a local councillor in the region, has a “fantastic chance” of defeating the SNP.

Scottish National Party leadership election
Ash Regan, left, Kate Forbes and Humza Yousaf are contesting the SNP leadership (Andy Buchanan/PA)

SNP MSPs Ash Regan, Kate Forbes and Humza Yousaf are currently in the race to replace Nicola Sturgeon as party leader and Scotland’s next first minister.

The contest has seen the candidates take aim at each other during televised debates.

Scottish Finance Secretary Ms Forbes on Tuesday criticised Health Secretary Mr Yousaf’s record in Government.

She said: “You were a transport minister and the trains were never on time, when you were justice secretary the police were stretched to breaking point, and now as health minister we’ve got record high waiting times.

“What makes you think you can do a better job as first minister?”

Mr Yousaf, meanwhile, accused Ms Forbes of taking the SNP on a “lurch to the right”.