Voters face straightforward choice between SNP and Tories - Nicola Sturgeon

Following the local elections which saw the SNP come out as the largest party across Scotland's local authorities, the SNP leader warned Prime Minister Theresa May that her flirtation with Ukip voters in England to pursue a hard negotiating stance with the European Union will result in the "sacrifice of thousands of Scottish jobs".

But even if everyone who voted independent would have voted SNP in a general election (a highly improbable supposition), that clearly can not account for all of the difference between the two performances.

The former SNP leader said: "I think most people would have said that was a bad decision for the Prime Minister to break her word on the election, but as my dad always says you play the ball as it lies, and where the ball lies is we're fighting an election campaign and we intend to fight it and to win it". They want to pick fights with Europe.

Equally, the official tally of the parties' share of the first preference vote across Scotland as a whole, which was published today by Elections Scotland, confirms that the SNP was well ahead of the rest of the pack. To show they can't take Scotland for granted. They rejected the compromise plan from the Scottish Government to keep both Scotland and the United Kingdom in the single market, putting at risk 80,000 Scottish jobs.

"In the last few days, the Tory mask has slipped", the SNP leader will say. "There is now no doubt - they'll sacrifice Scotland's interests and jobs because they're far more concerned about winning votes from Ukip". Imagine what they could achieve if they succeeded in their aim of crushing all parliamentary opposition.

Mr Kelly added: "It's clearer now than ever before that only Labour can defeat the SNP in vast swathes of Scotland".

Taken together, of those council wards within the Gordon constituency, last week saw, as Alex Salmond himself has noted, the SNP take 11 seats, with the Tories on 9 and the Lib Dems on 6. Labour shed 112 councillors to trail in third on 262, losing control of three councils.

The Tories gained 164 local government seats north of the border in Thursday's polls, though the SNP still comfortably won the most votes and seats in Scotland.

"This area voted emphatically to reject separation in 2014 and needs a strong and effective voice in Westminster, standing up for Aberdeen as we approach Brexit - not one distracted by endless debate on the constitution". The results suggest that the Tories are on track to secure a significant majority in the UK General Election.

Speaking after the results, the party's leader Ruth Davidson said: "There were a lot of people who voted for us for the very first time and what I would say is that every single Conservative councillor who has been elected across Scotland will absolutely work so hard to put local services first and not drag us back to any more constitutional division".

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