Willie Rennie has signalled that the Lib Dems want to work more closely with Labour to help bridge a “bitter divide” running through Scottish politics.
Speaking on Election Hub Live, he highlighted how the two parties shared the priority of “putting the recovery first”, and said it is the right time to “try to find common agreement on things”.
Mr Rennie was interviewed by David Mac Dougall on the live-streaming platform just a few hours after a launching the Lib Dem election manifesto.
Asked about the similarities between the Labour and Lib Dem positions, and whether the two parties could “join forces”, Mr Rennie indicated that greater collaboration could be considered.
“There is no doubt that I think Anas Sarwar and I agree with each other that we need to put recovery from the pandemic first,” the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader said.
“They’ve got different policies and different priorities. I mean, we are not in favour of a National Care Service, for instance.
“We disagreed with them before, about Brexit. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Jeremy Corbyn. There was centralisation of the police – we have divergent views on that.
“But I think in politics now, I think it’s a good time if people agree with each other on some things and they hunt for agreement.
I think there’s no doubt that part of the problem in Scottish politics is the bitter divide between the Nationalists and the Conservatives. I think it’s about time we changed that.”
“I think there’s no doubt that part of the problem in Scottish politics is the bitter divide between the Nationalists and the Conservatives. I think it’s about time we changed that.
“But we also appeal to different people in different parts of the country. We appeal to many people who are aspirational with a social conscience, and that’s where I think we’ve got space.
“But I’m not going to go around criticising the Labour Party for our differences because I think we’ve had enough of that in politics.
“Let’s try to find common agreement on things, and we agree we need to put the recovery first.”
Mr Rennie was also quizzed on his party’s ambitions at the election, with polls showing no sign of a significant improvement on 2016, when they won five seats and finished fifth.
“The sky is the limit. It is. I’m relentlessly positive about all election campaigns because I love engaging with the voters about the issues that matter, and I know that we’re going to grow in this election,” he said.
“I didn’t predict my own by-election win in Dunfermline in 2006 so I’m not going to start predicting the result this time around.
“I just know we’re going to grow because our message is powerful, of putting recovery first, and making sure we focus on the issues that count, not have an independence referendum, bounce-back support for education, mental health support, tackling the climate emergency – our manifesto is full of ideas like that.
“And if people want those things, not more division with independence, then they should come with us.”