Danny Alexander admitted yesterday that he faces an “incredibly tough battle” to hold his seat – as he came face-to-face with his SNP challenger in the heart of Inverness.
The Treasury minister was campaigning with Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie on the city’s High Street when the pair bumped into Nationalist candidate Drew Hendry and Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing.
Polls have suggested that Mr Alexander could become a high-profile casualty on May 7, with Mr Hendry and the SNP poised to win what has become a fierce fight for the Highland capital.
But the two rivals put their differences aside and shook each other’s hand, before continuing with their campaigning.
Mr Alexander, the Liberal Democrat candidate in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, said: “I think one of the nice things about politics in the Highlands is that we’re relatively polite to one another. Not always, but relatively so.
“We exchanged a few pleasantries about being out campaigning in the sunny weather, and that was that.”
He added: “My message today is that the SNP has been centralising power enormously over the last few years.
“I want the Highlands to have more control over our policing again, more control over the way in which our enterprise agency works, I want Highland Council to have much more freedom than it does.”
Asked about his chances, Mr Alexander said: “I am confident actually. I’m not in any way complacent, I know I face an incredibly tough battle and, you know, we’re campaigning hard and the SNP’s campaigning hard.
“I think people see my record, the record of the Highland Lib Dems, delivering for the Highlands.”
Mr Hendry, the SNP leader of Highland Council, said: “It’s good to see Danny out and about. I’m out and about every day, and to meet him on this occasion, you know, it’s quite nice to see him.
“I’ll continue to cover this constituency morning, noon and night, and continue the work I’ve been doing over the last few years to make sure I’m connecting with the community.
“We’re getting a very positive response for the SNP. People are very attracted by our progressive policies, they know that we work hard locally, and we’ve got an SNP Scottish Government that’s been delivering what they put in their manifesto.”
The Inverness seat will also be contested by Conservative candidate Edward Mountain, Labour’s Mike Robb, Isla O’Reilly from the Scottish Greens, Les Durance from Ukip and Donald Boyd from the Scottish Christian Party.