With Holyrood now dissolved and the Scottish elections now only six weeks away, the party leaders have been out and about this week launching their campaigns.
The Parliament ended with tributes for all the members who are standing down and for those who sadly passed away during the session.
There were heartfelt tributes from all the party leaders to Presiding Officer, Tricia Marwick, both the first female presiding Officer and the first to have been publicly educated. However, the party leaders wasted no time in kicking off their campaigns later the same day.
The SNP launched their campaign at Dynamic Earth. The SNP’s campaign will focus primarily on Nicola Sturgeon’s personal popularity and suitability for the post of First Minister. With polling continuing to show the SNP way ahead in the constituency vote the party are campaigning for “both votes SNP” to secure a second session with a majority.
Smaller parties will be looking to secure regional votes by arguing that because of the dominance of the SNP at constituency level, a regional vote for the SNP will be wasted because it will have already won its proportionate share of seats. Prof Curtice has written more on this possibility in The National.
Ruth Davidson launched the Scottish Conservatives campaign from Castle Street in Edinburgh with a speech to a modest group supporters thanking them for voting No in 2014. The central tenet of the Scottish Tories’ campaign will be that Labour have failed to hold the SNP to account and that they should be the next Official Opposition. Ruth will be front and centre of the campaign, with the Tory brand sacrificed for her name. She will campaigning to be the MSP for Edinburgh Central and is top of the Lothian regional list as she aims to make the move from Glasgow to the capital.
Kezia Dugdale, who is also standing to be an Edinburgh MSP, launched the Scottish Labour campaign with an appearance in Morningside. Labour’s core campaign message is “kids not cuts” as they will argue that Holyrood should use its new taxation powers to raise more money to fund public services and especially schools.
The first televised leaders’ debate will be tonight at 9pm on BBC1. It will be the only debate to feature all six party leaders; Nicola, Kezia and Ruth will also be joined by Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie, and David Coburn for UKIP. With so many leaders trying to get their points across, viewers can expect it to get rowdy!