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by Louise Wilson
12 June 2024
Anas Sarwar to set out NHS plans as John Swinney pledges to oppose spending cuts

Labour's Anas Sarwar will set out his stall on the NHS | Alamy

Anas Sarwar to set out NHS plans as John Swinney pledges to oppose spending cuts

Anas Sarwar is to set out his party’s plans to support the National Health Service, while John Swinney pledges to oppose spending cuts at Westminster. 

With a little over three weeks to go until the general election, the Scottish Labour leader is delivering a keynote speech in Edinburgh, in which he says a Labour government will prioritise tackling waiting lists in England which will deliver extra cash for Scotland’s devolved NHS. 

The SNP leader, also campaigning in Edinburgh, will warn both Labour and Tory pledges mean £18bn-worth of cuts to public services – which SNP MPs will vote against, he will say. 

Elsewhere, Scottish Tory chair Craig Hoy is visiting a distillery in Glasgow to highlight support for the whisky sector, while Green co-leader Patrick Harvie will be at a distillery in Moffat to speak about sustainability. 

Scottish Lib Dem deputy Wendy Chamberlain will be in Edinburgh to promote her party’s pledges on creating green jobs and supporting net-zero ambitions. 

The UK general election will take place on Thursday 4 July. Many constituencies in Scotland are marginal seats. 

Recent polling by Opinium has put Labour and the SNP neck and neck on 35 and 34 per cent, respectively. 

Around 14 per cent of voters intend to back the Conservatives, eight per cent Lib Dems, five per cent Reform and four per cent the Greens, according to the poll. 

Sarwar is expected to say that Labour will never privatise the NHS and will work to end a two-tier system which he says has developed under both the UK and Scottish Government’s, with higher numbers of people seeking private care. 

Ahead of his speech, he said: “Tackling the waiting lists has to be the first priority, and UK Labour’s plans will deliver millions every year in health-related funding for Scotland. 

“This funding would deliver 160,000 more appointments every year for patients in Scotland. 

“But protecting the NHS is about more than reducing the backlog. The NHS of tomorrow must be rooted in local communities where Scots can easily and conveniently access healthcare services and have a greater say and input over their care.” 

Meanwhile, Swinney has warned cuts from Westminster will damage household budgets and limit the impact of Scottish Government decisions, such as the rollout of the Scottish Child Payment or mitigation of the bedroom tax. 

He said: “These game-changing policies show that decisions designed to benefit the people of Scotland, are best made in Scotland. While Labour and the Tories take their orders from bosses in London, the SNP will always lead for Scotland, not be led by Westminster. 

“Today I am reiterating that commitment to the people of Scotland – our cast iron guarantee that SNP MPs will always fight to protect Scotland’s values in the face of further cuts at Westminster.” 

Conservative leader Rishi Sunak yesterday launched his party’s manifesto, committing to cutting National Insurance by two pence and halving migration over the next parliament. 

Labour will publish its own manifesto on Thursday. The date the SNP manifesto launch is yet to be confirmed.

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