Scotland politics

Party leaders in Scotland issue new year messages

Scotland's opposition party leaders have issued new year messages.

Labour's Jim Murphy used his to urge Scots to work together to remove David Cameron from Downing Street.

Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie focused on Alex Salmond's bid to become an MP, while Tory leader Ruth Davidson said differences over the independence referendum should be set aside in 2015.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also issued a statement outlining her priorities for the coming year.

JIM MURPHY, SCOTTISH LABOUR LEADER

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In his new year message, Mr Murphy focused on the forthcoming UK general election.

He highlighted the fact his party has introduced a new £1 membership rate for January to boost support.

He said: "After the divisions of the referendum, we have the opportunity to unite together to make Scotland the fairest nation on earth.

"There will be some Scots who plan to vote SNP or Green with the intention of removing Mr Cameron from office.

"But any seat the SNP takes from Labour in Scotland could mean handing David Cameron the keys to Number 10 by accident.

"Only Labour is big enough and strong enough across the UK to remove the Tories from power.

"So, my message to every Scot who wants a fairer, more just and more equal nation is this - let's come together and make our movement stronger."

WILLIE RENNIE, SCOTTISH LIBERAL DEMOCRAT LEADER

Liberal Democrat leader Mr Rennie said former first minister Alex Salmond's bid to be MP for Gordon would be the "big test" of the year.

He said: "Alex Salmond wants to use May's general election to rerun the referendum he just lost.

"He wants to secure independence by the back door with his unstable, extreme form of devolution.

"But putting his party's policy ahead of local interests might not be what is wanted by the people of Gordon.

"I've been encouraged that voters of all persuasions are rallying behind our candidate Christine Jardine to put local interests ahead of the interests of Alex Salmond."

Mr Rennie said his party would "put local interests first" in similar contests across the country.

He added: "I know that our MPs, with their powerful track records, are best placed to win and win for their communities. It is important because there is so much at stake."

RUTH DAVIDSON, SCOTTISH CONSERVATIVE LEADER

Image copyright Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

In her new year message, Ms Davidson said improving schools, supporting the NHS, encouraging business and ensuring equal opportunity for all should be priorities.

She said: "The political debate has been intense, which is as it should be.

"But now the big questions have been settled about where power should lie, attention needs to turn to how those powers are used."

Ms Davidson added: "We know that there is more that unites than divides us and this new year is the time to put old differences aside and work together to make a real difference.

"While a general election in May allows all politicians a platform to set out their vision, it is up to all of us to be prepared to work with others where we share a common cause. The people of Scotland demand no less."

PATRICK HARVIE, SCOTTISH GREEN PARTY CO-CONVENER

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Mr Harvie said the Scottish Green party would build on a surge of support after September's referendum.

He also turned his sights on the 2015 general election.

"A key issue of the May election here in Scotland will be the devolution of further powers and while the Scottish Greens are proud to have played a key part in securing agreement on powers over fracking, energy companies and railways, it's clear many Scots don't see the Smith proposals as durable," he said.

"As long as Scotland remains at the margins of influence over the economy, workers' rights and foreign policy, we will continue to be subject to Westminster's whim.

"With a Scottish Green MP there'd be a real challenge to the Westminster consensus on austerity, tax breaks for big business and spending billions on weapons of mass destruction and the nuclear alliances that go with them."

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