Lib Dems can beat SNP to third, says Davey

The Liberal Democrats can become the third biggest party in the Commons after the General Election, overtaking the SNP, the party’s leader has said.

Speaking ahead of the launch of the Scottish Lib Dems’ election campaign, Sir Ed Davey said he thought there could be “more liberals than nationalists” in the new parliament.

Despite Sir Ed’s optimism, polling for the Lib Dems has remained fairly stable in recent years both in Scotland and the UK as a whole.

The party has spent almost a decade in fourth position, following the SNP’s landslide 56-seat rout in 2015 and the Lib Dem disintegration following five years in coalition.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland on Monday, Sir Ed pointed to four seats north of the border his party were targeting – all of which are currently held by SNP MPs.

These include Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire – a portion of which was held by ex-leader Charles Kennedy before he lost it to the retiring former SNP Westminster boss Ian Blackford – and Mid Dunbartonshire, the successor to the seat lost by former Lib Dem chief Jo Swinson to the SNP’s Amy Callaghan in 2019.

“We are a big part of the change that’s happening,” Sir Ed said.

“I think there is a massive desire to get rid of the Conservatives in Westminster and also, actually, to get rid of the SNP.

“I think we have a real chance, when we get to July 5 – the day after polling day – there will be more liberals than nationalists in the next parliament.

“I think the Liberal Democrats can be the third party in UK politics again.”

Seats won by the party, he said, would have “fantastic local champions”, who would “make such a difference” at Westminster and could lead to an increase to funding for the health service.

Alex Cole-Hamilton
Alex Cole-Hamilton said dentists are being driven away from the NHS (Michael Boyd/PA)

On Monday, the party will launch its Scottish general election campaign, with Sir Ed joining Scottish party leader Alex Cole-Hamilton.

The launch will focus on the provision of NHS dentistry – a devolved matter – with the pair set to claim the service has been neglected by the Scottish and UK governments.

Speaking ahead of the event, Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “People are resorting to DIY dentistry and buying tools off Amazon to do the job themselves because they can’t get an NHS dentist.

“Some Ukrainians have even travelled back to Kyiv for dental care because the air-raid sirens, drone strikes and cruise missiles are less daunting than the waits in Scotland’s NHS.

“The SNP promised to scrap dental charges, but instead they have introduced new charges and doubled the price of some procedures.

“Dentists are being driven away from the NHS because working with this SNP government is harder than pulling teeth.”

Dr Lucy Beattie, SNP candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross said: “Voters in constituencies such as Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross haven’t forgotten that the Lib Dems worked along with the Tories to impose huge austerity cuts and cut household incomes.

“We need to get rid of the Tory Government.

“The way to do that in Scotland is to vote SNP, because we are the main challengers in every Tory-held seat.

“Voters can only rely on the SNP to put the the interests of Scotland first.”