Scotland politics

General election 2017: SNP accused of talking 'trash' about UK

Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson Image copyright PA
Image caption The clash between Ms Sturgeon and Ms Davidson came two days after the prime minister announced a snap election

The SNP election campaign will attempt to portray the UK under a Conservative government as "hell on earth", Ruth Davidson has claimed.

The Scottish Tory leader also accused the SNP of putting forward "offensive and negative trash about our country".

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon responded by warning about the damage an "unfettered, out-of-control Tory government can do".

The clash came at the weekly First Minister's Questions session.

It took place just over 48 hours after Prime Minister Theresa May's surprise announcement of a snap general election on 8 June - which dominated the exchanges between Ms Sturgeon and her rivals.

Ms Davidson said the SNP strategy for the campaign would be to try to claim that "living in the UK under a Conservative government will be hell on earth".

She added: "The fact is that the way the SNP is readying itself to pour negativity on this country at this election is shameful."

The Tory leader told Ms Sturgeon "she might not like it but Scotland is part of this United Kingdom".

And she pledged: "We will stand up for Scotland's decision to stay in the United Kingdom and we will say no to a second referendum so Scotland can get on with building better schools and better public services."

Ms Sturgeon responded by saying that the "unelectability" of Labour meant Scotland "faces the prospect of an unfettered, out-of-control Tory government and we know the damage that can do to Scotland - to our budget, to the vulnerable, to pensions, to the economy".

'Bigger majority'

The first minister continued: "The rape clause has been introduced by a Tory government at Westminster with a tiny majority.

"If that's what a Tory government can do with a tiny majority, let's just think of the damage an unfettered, out-of-control Tory government can do with a bigger majority.

"So, if people in Scotland want protection against the Tory government, if people in Scotland want an effective, strong opposition to a Tory government, they won't get it from unelectable Labour, they won't get it from the Lib Dems who still say they would support it from a Tory government, they will only get it from the SNP.

"Scotland needs protection from the Tories."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Kezia Dugdale questioned why the SNP abstained in the vote on whether to have an election

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale challenged Ms Sturgeon over SNP MPs abstaining in the House of Commons vote on whether there should be a general election.

Ms Dugdale said: "It suits the SNP for the Tories to stay in power. That's why they refused to vote Theresa May out of office yesterday.

"It suits the SNP for the Tories to stay in power because the only thing the SNP have ever cared about is independence. Time and time again we were told that a vote for the SNP is not a vote for another referendum.

"So, will the first minister have the decency to tell the voters before they vote that she will use this election as another excuse for a divisive referendum or once again will she wait until the day after?"

'Turkeys and Christmas'

The first minister responded by pointing out that it was Labour "who trooped through the lobbies with the Tories yesterday", adding: "You know the lobby I mean, it's that one that had turkeys and Christmas written above it."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called on Ms Sturgeon to clarify the SNP's position on Europe, arguing the party's depute leader Angus Robertson had "struggled" to explain it on BBC Radio Scotland.

He repeatedly urged the first minister to confirm that full membership of the European Union would be in the SNP manifesto for the general election.

Ms Sturgeon said: "The policy of the SNP on Europe is absolutely clear, we want Scotland to remain members of the European Union, I don't think there is anybody who could have missed that over the past few months."