Election 2015 Scotland

Election 2015: Scotland's political parties begin official campaign

Houses of Parliament Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Now parliament has been dissolved, it has no members until new ones are voted for on 7 May

Scotland's political parties have taken to the streets on the first official day of the general election campaign.

Glasgow's east end was visited by leading figures from both the Scottish National Party and Labour.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie joined UK business minister and party colleague Jo Swinson in Kirkintilloch.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson began the official campaign ahead of the 7 May poll in Edinburgh.

Policy guide: Where the parties stand

The UK's electorate will vote in a little under six weeks to choose who they want to be their MP.

Of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, Scotland has 59.

In the 2010 election, Labour won 41, the Liberal Democrats secured 11, the SNP came out with six and the Conservatives won one.

Parliament was formally dissolved after the prime minister had an audience with the Queen.


ANALYSIS

By Scottish political editor Brian Taylor

And so it begins, with a visit to a household. The Royal Household, that is - with David Cameron being received by the Queen for the final time as the Westminster Parliament is dissolved.

Households across the UK can now expect umpteen visits from enthusiastic or desperate canvassers, eager to persuade people to back a particular party in this UK General Election.

The Greens win the award for being first to launch their manifesto, promising a £10-and-hour minimum wage, the renationalisation of the railways and the devolution of powers to communities across Scotland.

Read more from Brian about what the other parties are doing.


The SNP's day one message was that other "progressive parties at Westminster" should join with it to work for the "common good" across the UK.

Party leader Nicola Sturgeon, who joined activists at the Fort shopping centre in Glasgow, insisted that a vote for the nationalists was a vote to end austerity, reject the renewal of Trident and win "real power" for Scotland.

She added: "It matters to people in Scotland that good decisions are made at Westminster - and that's exactly why the SNP will join with other progressive parties to work for the common good for hard-pressed families across the UK.

"We will work to deliver the power we were promised in the referendum - to enable us to grow our economy and tackle poverty, making our country a fairer, more equal place for everyone who lives here."

Image caption Nicola Sturgeon met up with activists who were campaigning at the Fort shopping centre in Glasgow
Image caption Margaret Curran was with activists in the east end of Glasgow on the first day of the official campaign

Former Labour leader Gordon Brown was also in the east of Scotland's biggest city.

Alongside Margaret Curran, Mr Brown - who has stepped down as an MP after 32 years - addressed an audience of activists.

He said: "This election is not only about constitutional change but about the social changes and the economic changes that are urgently needed to start the day after the election - the desperate need to create more jobs, improve the NHS, tackle the scandal of poverty in our midst and reduce inequality now."

Mr Brown promised that if Labour won the election an extra £800m would go to Scotland to be spent on the NHS, tackling poverty and creating jobs.

He told the gathering: "So, while others want to talk about coalitions, deals, pacts, hung parliaments, confidence and supply motions - insider Westminster talk - we will spend all our time discussing with the people what really matters: poverty, unemployment, deprivation, bad housing, inequality and the neglect of the NHS."

'Half truths'

Ms Davidson was at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh to kick-start her party's campaign.

She said the Conservatives would take on the "lazy, complacent central belt establishment" of Labour and the SNP which she believed "still thinks it knows best".

Ms Davidson added: "I'm going to take the fight to our opponents in this campaign. I'm not prepared to see our record trashed by half truths and lazy assertion.

"Let's not take lectures from the SNP and Labour on how we improve the lives of millions.

"Let's not hear any earnest lessons about economic competence from Ed Miliband, the man who forgot to include the deficit in his own conference speech."

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have promised to balance "Britain's books" and invest an extra £800m in the Scottish NHS.

Image caption Ruth Davidson and Tory candidate David Mundell were at a Conservative Party get-together in Edinburgh
Image caption A trip to a jewellery shop in Kirkintilloch was the campaign event of the day for the Liberal Democrat Party's Willie Rennie and Jo Swinson

Its leader Willie Rennie toured Kirkintilloch alongside local candidate Ms Swinson.

He said: "With taxes down, pensions up, new jobs and more childcare, Liberal Democrats have a record to be proud of in government.

"We have held government in the centre ground. We have provided stability in the face of one of the toughest recessions in living memory.

"Our priorities for a stronger economy and a fairer society are distinctly liberal priorities. They put a stop to the see-saw economics of the past and allow us to create opportunity for all."

The first day of the campaign also saw the Scottish Greens publish their manifesto.

The party's co-convenor, Patrick Harvie, said it had policies that presented a "bold vision" for Scotland.

He added: "Everyone is tired of the same old Westminster politics. Scotland is ready for change and people are eager to vote for ideas they can believe in."

Image caption The Scottish Green Party published its election manifesto in Edinburgh

ANALYSIS

By Westminster correspondent Tim Reid

As of today there are no members of parliament at Westminster. They are simply candidates now and in Scotland will be battling for the 59 seats available.

The beginning of the day saw Prime Minister David Cameron go to Buckingham Palace to see the Queen, marking the formal start of the race towards polling day on 7 May.

Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg also went to see the Queen.

In Edinburgh, a proclamation will be read out at the Mercat Cross, essentially telling voters that a general election has been called.

And if the opinion polls are correct, it's possible once again that no party gains a majority. That means the outcome in Scotland - where the SNP could do well at Labour's expense - could be crucial in determining who forms the next government.

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