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31 May 2017, 15:10
The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats has said voters are switching to his party from the SNP in target seats as he accused the nationalists of hitting a ''low'' in personal campaigning.
Willie Rennie launched his party's election manifesto in Edinburgh and pledged to stop a second Scottish independence referendum, saying voters are ''spitting mad'' about the SNP's continuing push for another ballot on the issue.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon unveiled her party's manifesto on Tuesday, claiming an SNP victory in Scotland in the General Election on June 8 would ''further reinforce'' her party's mandate for another referendum.
Mr Rennie said in ''so many seats'' across the country voters face a ''straight choice between the Liberal Democrats and the SNP'', and he predicted tactical voting could give his party a boost in close seats such as East Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh West and Caithness.
He said: ''The Liberal Democrats have got a big role to play in this election. For a lot of people there's a purpose, beyond others, at this particular time to stop a second divisive independence referendum. I've been astonished at the rage that there is out there, including from some people who did vote for the SNP last time, and they want to stop it now.
''They are just spitting mad at the SNP at how they have banged on about independence all the time and I think it's got to stop, and they are going to use this election to do so.
''If you come to the seats that I go to, I'll show you the switching that's going on of people who were traditionally Labour and Conservative people who now want to stop a second independence referendum, they are coming our way.
''The people who are fed up with the SNP banging on about independence all the time, even though they voted for them last time, they are coming over to us.''
Questioned about an SNP campaign leaflet in Edinburgh West which criticises Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton and candidate Christine Jardine, he said: ''I'm afraid the SNP campaign in Edinburgh West has gone very low, but we've got a positive campaign across the country.
''Some of my friends in the party have to go through quite a lot of difficulties in their election campaigns so to see them overcome personal, vicious campaigns is a joy, but it's more to see them overcoming it than for revenge against individuals who are pursuing negative and aggressive campaigning.''
Among the manifesto pledges are plans to hold a Brexit deal referendum, add a penny to income tax to invest £35 million in mental health, end the 1% public sector pay cap, and scrap the two-child cap on tax credits and associated ''rape clause''.
The party has also promised to retain the triple lock for pensions, guarantee the rights of EU citizens and reintroduce post-study work visas.