Nicola Sturgeon has urged Scots to re-elect her as First Minister and let her “get on with the job of leading us out of the pandemic and into a brighter future”.
As voters prepare to go to the polls on Thursday in a crucial Holyrood election, the SNP leader said only she can provide the “experienced leadership” required as Scotland recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms Sturgeon’s opponents have attacked her plans to hold another vote on Scottish independence during the next Holyrood term, warning this will hinder the country’s recovery – though she has insisted such a referendum will not take place until the immediate health crisis has passed.
In an eve-of-polling message, Ms Sturgeon said it is now up to voters to decide.
Writing in the Daily Record newspaper, she said: “If you are wondering who to vote for, or even whether it is worth voting at all, my message to you is that this is not a normal election and we do not live in normal times.
“More than ever, Scotland needs experienced leadership and serious government – and I am ready to get back to work.
“By giving both votes to the SNP tomorrow, you can help re-elect me to get on with the job of leading us out of the pandemic and into a brighter future.”
She said the election is all about “who has the leadership and a serious plan for government to lead the country through the pandemic and build a recovery”.
But she also stressed the importance of tackling the “long standing challenges that Scotland faces”, adding “there are few more pressing matters than child poverty”.
Her comments came as she accused her rivals in Labour and the Conservatives of “running the most negative-based campaign in the history of devolution”.
Ms Sturgeon will spend the final day of campaigning travelling the country, going from Aberdeenshire in the north east to Dumbarton on the west coast, ahead of Thursday’s “knife-edge” Holyrood poll.
The SNP is certain to emerge again as the largest party in the Scottish Parliament after the election, but it wants to win an overall majority of MSPs as it pushes for a second independence referendum.
Hitting out at her rivals, Ms Sturgeon said: “The London-based parties have fought the most negative campaign in the history of devolution with every one of them openly admitting they don’t want or expect to form a government.”
In contrast, she said: “I’m ready to get back to work, to take the difficult decisions, and to put Scotland first.
“By giving both votes to the SNP tomorrow people will get experienced leadership, a serious programme for government and, when the Covid crisis is over, the right to decide whether Scotland should be an independent country.”