Scottish Labour has launched its council election campaign with a warning that local services will not be safe in Conservative hands.
The party also said the SNP are pushing for another independence referendum to distract from what they call a "poor record" in government.
And leader Kezia Dugdale warned against voting Conservative as a protest against independence.
Council elections will be held across the country on 4 May.
For the first time in a Scotland-wide council election, 16 and 17-year-olds will be eligible to vote.
Ms Dugdale urged people to consider the impact the Conservatives could have on social services, care for the elderly and schools, claiming her rivals are "itching to cut even more money from our valued public services".
Leading Tories have been calling on voters to use the local authority ballot to send a message to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon not to hold a second Scottish independence referendum.
But Ms Dugdale said: "Voting in this election isn't a protest vote. Your vote in this election really matters.
"If you vote for the Tories, you are voting for them to be in power - to take control of your council services. Not to be in opposition or to protest against independence.
"So before you vote, think about whether you want a Tory in charge of elderly care, social services and schools. This is a party itching to cut even more money from our valued public services."
Ms Dugdale, whose party is third in the polls behind the Scottish Conservatives, was speaking ahead of Labour's local government election campaign launch in Edinburgh.
She also highlighted the "abhorrent rape clause" as showing the "ruthless" nature of the Tories.
Changes brought in by the Conservatives at Westminster mean women claiming tax credits for a third or subsequent child have to prove they became pregnant as a result of a rape or while in a coercive relationship in order to qualify for the payments.
"If we need any reminder of what Tories do in power, just look at what happened last week," Ms Dugdale said.
"Ruth Davidson - who we were told was a different type of Tory - stood up and took a stand...not against poverty or injustice or the mistreatment of someone, but to justify the abhorrent rape clause.
"That should tell you everything you need to know about the Tories: not modern; not forward looking; not compassionate; and desperate to hide their true colours.
"That's Ruth Davidson's Conservatives - ruthless. Local services will not be safe in their hands."