Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Tories urge Labour voters to switch sides

Lesley Laird and Annie Wells
Image caption Lesley Laird (left) said the appeal by Annie Wells "would be laughable if it wasn't so desperate"

The Scottish Conservatives have made a direct pitch to Labour voters asking them to support their party in a bid to stop another independence referendum.

In an open letter, Tory MSP Annie Wells said most supporters of the two parties could agree there should not be another vote on independence.

Ms Wells urged Labour supporters to vote Conservative in the election.

Scottish Labour's deputy leader Lesley Laird said the appeal "would be laughable if it wasn't so desperate".

Ms Wells suggested that Jeremy Corbyn would grant another referendum in exchange for taking up residence at Downing Street.

'Not the Labour Party of old'

In her letter, she wrote: "When I was growing up in Springburn in Glasgow, I was Labour. My family were Labour. We were all Labour.

"But, during the independence referendum, I decided instead to back the Scottish Conservatives.

"I realised that only they could be relied on 100% to back Scotland's place in the Union. It was only by voting for them that I could make my voice heard."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Tories have made a direct pitch to Labour supporters to switch allegiance and "stop another independence referendum"

"It is not the Labour Party of old," she said. "It's certainly not the Labour Party of Red Clydeside or of Donald Dewar."

Ms Wells added: "Labour and Conservative supporters won't agree on every issue. But most of us can agree that we want to stop Nicola Sturgeon from getting indyref2.

"Please help us send Sturgeon a message that we do not want to be divided any more. We are fed up with referendums and we're fed up with Nicola Sturgeon."

Scottish Labour's Lesley Laird said: "The people of Scotland know the Tory party is not their friend. They can see it in the rise in child poverty, the disregard that the Tory government shows for Scottish public opinion and the Tories' sharp turn to English nationalism.

"In contrast, Scottish Labour stands on a platform promising real and lasting change for Scotland.

"Only a transformative UK Labour government backed by Scottish Labour MPs can safeguard the unity of this country, because when Labour wins, Scotland wins."

'Blatant con trick'

The SNP's candidate for Airdrie and Shotts, Neil Gray, said the campaign by the Conservatives in Scotland was a "blatant con trick".

"For voters in Scotland, the choice in this election is crystal clear," he said.

"It's a choice between the SNP who reject Brexit, reject austerity and stand up for our local communities - or the Tories who want to cut Scotland off from Europe against our will, impose deeper cuts on public services and hand their rich chums in the City tax cuts.

"A vote for Labour at this election simply risks letting Tory MPs in through the backdoor - helping Boris Johnson fulfil his right-wing Brexit fantasy that will destroy jobs, businesses and household incomes here in Scotland.

"And the Tory campaign in Scotland is a blatant con trick, whatever they say, a vote for the Tories will simply endorse a deeply damaging Brexit that will hit jobs, living standards and reduce workers rights."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has previously pledged to stop indyref2 "dead in its tracks" even if pro independence parties win a majority in Scotland.

In September he said: "We are against another independence referendum, so if you vote for us that's what you get. I can't say vote for us and you'll get another policy.

"Vote for us and we'll stop independence dead in its tracks."