Scotland politics

Parties prepare to crank up Scottish election campaigns

Holyrood Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Holyrood election will take place on 5 May

Nicola Sturgeon has vowed that the SNP will "not take a single vote for granted", as Scotland's parties prepare to crank up their campaigns for the 2016 Scottish Parliament election.

The first minister will lead a New Year debate at Holyrood on Tuesday, pledging to "earn the right" to an unprecedented third term in government.

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour will unveil its first election pledge on housing.

The Scottish Conservatives are set to focus on education.

The Scottish Lib Dems will argue on Monday that the next five years should be dominated by "a bright, green and liberal programme".

In an opinion piece in the Sunday Herald, the first minister promised a raft of new policies on health, education, social security and the economy in the run-up to polling day on 5 May.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ms Sturgeon said her party's plans will have the potential to "transform" Scotland

She said: "The plans that we will set out over the next three months will - as I will also make clear on Tuesday - have the potential, over the next five years, to transform Scotland."

She also also hit back at accusations that SNP supporters were "brainwashed", saying that the suggestion was "profoundly insulting".

She said: "Those who support the SNP have not been brainwashed, they are not blind to our imperfections - instead, they are weighing them against our strengths and achievements, and against the other parties, and deciding that the SNP is the party they most closely identify with, the people they trust most to stand up for Scotland."

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale is due to unveil her party's first election pledge on housing in a speech to activists in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ms Dugdale is due to unveil her party's first election pledge on housing in Edinburgh on Tuesday

Ms Dugdale will say that new powers over tax, borrowing and welfare coming to Holyrood offer a "once-in-a-generation" opportunity to change Scottish politics.

"Let me say this to Nicola Sturgeon - on the constitution I will take her at her word," she will say.

"She has asked Scotland to trust her and Scotland will expect her to keep her promise.

"This matters because the opportunities for the future that our new powers open up are too great to be buried under the arguments of the past."

'Real issues'

Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives will focus on education, setting out ideas to support school leadership and improve literacy and numeracy in a new paper.

The party will also signal its backing for a Save the Children campaign aimed at ensuring all children are reading well by the age of 11.

A spokesman for party leader Ruth Davidson said: "The Scottish Conservatives will be using the 2016 election campaign to focus on the real issues that matter to Scots.

"And we know that nothing matters more to them than ensuring the next generation of young people have the same opportunities as their parents and grandparents.

"As Save the Children points out, being able to read well is one of the best routes out of poverty there is. Their campaign to ensure all children are reading well by the age of 11 sends out the right message. We now need a clear strategy from the Scottish Government to show how it can be delivered.

"We will be setting out our ideas this week - providing a real alternative to the SNP and their failure to keep our education system at the top of the international pile."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is due to kick off the 2016 election year on Monday by meeting workers and management at a manufacturing firm in Fife.

He will say that the next five years should be dominated by "a bright, green and liberal programme" for Scotland.

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