Leaders Make Final Appeal To Voters

Party leaders have delivered their final pitch to voters across Scotland on the eve of what could be a “watershed” election.

Although business at Holyrood continued on the final full day of General Election campaigning, clashes in the chamber were dominated by tomorrow's poll.

With the election on a knife edge, votes in Scotland could be crucial in determining whether David Cameron or Ed Miliband ends up in No 10.

While across the UK the contest between Labour and the Conservatives is still too close to call, north of the border the SNP appears to be on the verge of an historic result.

Nicola Sturgeon's party has surged in popularity following last year's independence referendum, with one poll even indicating it could win all 59 seats north of the border.

While Ms Sturgeon has dismissed the chances of that, the SNP - which has never had more than 11 MPs and which won six seats in 2010 - could be left holding the balance of power 

The collapse in support for Labour has dealt a massive blow to Mr Miliband's hopes of leading a majority government and could also see Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy lose his East Renfrewshire seat, ending his 18-year term as an MP.

As the election dominated exchanges at First Minister's Questions, Ms Sturgeon said the main reason why she wanted the Labour leader in Downing Street is “he's no' a Tory”.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Kezia Dugdale insisted there would be “more progressive policies in the first week of an Ed Miliband government than in eight years of an SNP government”.

The First Minister insisted: “I want the Tories out of office because David Cameron's Tory-led government - and this is a serious point - has been devastating for vulnerable people across our country. 

Earlier, she rallied supporters in the heart of Edinburgh, telling them it could be a “watershed election” for her party and Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon said: “At the heart of this campaign lies this simple truth: the more seats the SNP wins tomorrow, the more power Scotland is going to have, and that is the prize that is now within our grasp.”

The SNP is “within touching distance” of winning a majority of Scottish seats at Westminster, something the party has never achieved before.

“If we do that, then the voice of Scotland is going to be heard more loudly at Westminster than it has ever been heard before,” she said.

Ms Sturgeon confirmed her party's MPs would vote down a future Labour budget if it failed to end “Tory austerity”, but said this should not bring down the government.

“If there was a budget brought forward by a Labour government that sought to continue Tory austerity and damage the most vulnerable people in our society, SNP MPs at Westminster would not vote for that budget because we want an end to austerity,” the First Minister said. 

“That wouldn't bring down the government but it would send them away to think again and come back with a better budget.”

She added: “We can lock the Tories out of government but then we can make sure that the Tories are not simply replaced by a Labour Tory-light government, they are replaced by something better.”

Mr Murphy, meanwhile, said it was now decision time for Scotland, claiming a vote for his party as the only way “to get rid of David Cameron, to build a fairer country, abolish exploitative zero-hours contracts, increase the minimum wage and end Tory austerity”.

He told Scots: “You can gamble and get rid of Cameron with a vote for the SNP, you can guarantee on getting rid of him with a vote for Labour. 

“We are determined to help make that happen and make sure Scotland is the fairest nation on earth.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was also on the campaign trail in Scotland, where his party won 11 seats in 2010 but now faces losing the majority to the SNP.

He argued that voting for the Lib Dems is the “best way” to ensure the next government is be one for the whole of the UK, saying: “The Conservative Party is now not even pretending to be a party for the whole UK, the Conservative Party has basically mutated into an English party chasing Ukip votes in southern England. 

“It has got barely any representation in Scotland and is behaving in this election campaign as something tantamount to an English Conservative Party.

“David Cameron, I think, has given up even pretending to seek a mandate as Prime Minister for the whole of the United Kingdom.”

In an eve-of-poll speech in Edinburgh, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson told activists a vote for her party “is a vote for the union” while a vote for the SNP could result in a second independence referendum.

“I want you to take the same pride in voting Scottish Conservative and Unionist on May 7 this year that you felt on September 18 last year,” she said.

“I want you to cast your vote with the same conviction - knowing that you're doing the right thing for your country.

“For we are the party for the quiet majority. And a party that is rock-solid, 100% behind the union and will never do anything to put that in danger.”

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