SNP unveils business backing

Salmond heils 'hugely significant' business backing
Salmond heils 'hugely significant' business backing

The SNP today attempted to boost its reputation as a serious party by highlighting its business credentials.

SNP leader Alex Salmond revealed some 100 business leaders have publicly backed the party, signing up to the statement: "Scotland can be more successful. That is why we are supporting Alex Salmond and the SNP on May 3rd."

The list reflects the "entire spectrum" of the Scottish business community and is a "hugely significant" step in the SNP's Scottish election campaign, the party claimed.

"The SNP are winning the debate on the Scottish economy, just as we earning the trust of the people to win the election," Mr Salmond said.

Counted among the signatories is Scottish entrepreneur Sir Tom Farmer, who said he did not accept the "scare stories being spread of fire and blood", surrounding the SNP's campaign.

Amid increasing criticisms that Labour is running a negative campaign against the SNP, Scottish leader Jack McConnell said Mr Salmond is not fit to be first minister.

Speaking to BBC Radio's Sunday Live programme, Mr McConnell said Mr Salmond lacked a proper commitment to Scotland and the SNP were trying to avoid scrutiny.

"And increasingly people are realising that Alex Salmond would not be a fit person to be first minister of Scotland," he added.

The SNP's deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon countered: "For Jack McConnell to indulge in this personal attack shows how rattled Labour must be.

"It was an extremely foolish thing to do - a new low in Labour's negative campaign - and he will come to regret his ill-judged words."

With just ten days to go before the Scottish election, the SNP remain consistently ahead in the opinion polls.

In a bid to regain ground, the environment minister David Miliband yesterday travelled to Scotland to campaign with Mr McConnell. The pair unveiled Labour's 15-point green agenda and dismissed the SNP as "sham environmentalists".

Mr McConnell said: "We have put sustainable development and environmental justice at the heart of government in Scotland. We met our renewable energy targets early and have seen recycling rates quadruple.

"In the next term of the Scottish parliament we will put the struggle against climate change centre stage, with a climate change bill, big increases in renewables and recycling, and carbon neutral homes."

The Scottish Conservatives today also stressed their green credentials, with a commitment to school buses. Scottish leader Annabel Goldie will promote yellow buses as the future of school transport, providing a safer, quicker and environmentally friendly alternative to private cars.

A yellow school bus scheme in every local authority would cut congestion and reduction emissions, Ms Goldie claimed.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have been outlining their plans to rejuvenate small towns. Party leader Nicol Stephen announced a £60 million fund to benefit small towns, including support for small businesses and community groups.

"This major new investment will make improvements to local neighbourhoods and breathe new life into small town centres in Scotland," Mr Stephen said.

"By regenerating our small towns we can kick-start local economies, bring new jobs and prosperity, boost tourism and give young people and families a bright future."

He also reiterated the Liberal Democrats' pledge to double small businesses rates relief, benefiting 140,000 small businesses.


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