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Sunday Herald Political Editor, Douglas Fraser
Analyses the polls in Scotland
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The BBC's Nigel Wrench
"The Ayr seat is critical for the Scottish Conservatives"
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Friday, 1 June, 2001, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
Tories vow to defy the polls
Michael Ancram
Michael Ancram issued a clarion call to party activists
The Scottish Tories have been taking comfort from perceived ground level support despite the latest opinion poll which suggests a failure to revive their fortunes.

Tory party chairman Michael Ancram said he was confident of a Conservative victory on 7 June and vowed that the party would do all it could to redress the "democratic deficit" which existed in Scotland.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Labour has focused on its health record, arguing that its policies are creating a more efficient NHS.

The Conservatives said opinion poll indications that they are trailing behind Labour are not borne out on the ground.

In Edinburgh on Friday, Mr Ancram argued that their message is getting home.

Susan Deacon
Susan Deacon: "No cherry-picking"
He said that the Tories were now in tune with Scottish mainstream opinion on tax and other issues.

His comments came on the day that the latest System Three poll for The Herald newspaper suggested that Labour was maintaining a commanding lead in Scotland.

The poll said Labour is down three points on 47%, while the SNP is up one at 26%.

System Three puts the Conservatives on 13%, up one, while the Lib Dems are up two at 11% and the Scottish Socialists are on 3%.

Some 1,048 people in 40 Scottish constituencies were interviewed for the poll between 24 and 30 May.

Health record

Mr Ancram issued a Tory clarion call to party activists across the country to redouble their efforts in the final days leading to 7 June and polling day.

He said: "In constituencies all across the country, we are winning the argument and the people's support. But don't just take my word for it. Here in Scotland, the reports I am receiving from party workers are very encouraging, reflecting the case across the whole of Britain.

"The mood on the ground is totally different to the opinion polls and we are finding tremendous enthusiasm wherever we go."

A bullish Mr Ancram added: "We enjoy reading opinion polls because they enlighten our breakfasts, but they are not what elections are about.

Helen Liddell
Helen Liddell warned against Labour complacency

"Elections are about people going into the polling booth and marking their papers. In the end it's people's votes that count, not opinion polls."

Meanwhile, Labour has spotlighted its health record, arguing that the NHS is benefiting from record funding and warning of Tory cuts.

On Thursday it had suffered at the hands of its political rivals over NHS waiting list pledges made before the 1997 general election.

Scotland's Health Minister Susan Deacon said the party was content to be judged on its record, but warned against examining one set of figures in isolation.

Every vote counts

Ms Deacon said: "By all means, let's discuss performance, but let's not cherry-pick promises or figures. Waiting lists have been on a consistent downward trend since last summer and yesterday's figures show a 4% reduction - a remarkable achievement for the NHS."

The health minister was flanked by Secretary of State for Scotland Helen Liddell, with the latter responding to Baroness Thatcher's claim that a landslide Labour victory at the election would create "an elective dictatorship".

Mrs Liddell said: "We are a sophisticated electorate in Scotland and we are not lured by the blandishment of Lady Thatcher suggesting landslides. Every single vote counts."

She pointed to previous general elections in 1970 and 1992, which Labour lost, to highlight the dangers of Labour complacency.

"We will take nothing for granted."

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