THE SNP have lashed out at the leader of the UK LibDems, saying his party “will never be forgiven” for unleashing an era of “brutal austerity” on Scotland.

Ed Davey held ministerial positions in the 2010-2015 UK Tory-LibDem coalition government which saw the start of austerity and the raising of student fees in England to £9000 per student per year.

The SNP’s comments come after Davey, who became the LibDems’ UK leader this year, accused the SNP of “failing” and focusing too much on independence, which he again labeled a “distraction”.

A poll released today suggests the Scottish Government is seen to be handling the pandemic, the economy, the NHS, and education better than Westminster.

Speaking to journalists yesterday, Davey claimed his party can offer voters a "more attractive proposition" than the SNP to Scots who want to get rid of the "shockingly incompetent" Boris Johnson.

He also claimed his LibDems were "confident" they would make gains in next May's Holyood election "as our voice gets heard more and more".

The MP for Kingston and Surbiton said he accepted that "people want almost any alternative” to Johnson, and added that the UK as a "family of nations has been around a lot longer than just one term of one government".

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He also argued that his party was the only one that supported Scotland being in both the European Union and the UK.

In September, Davey said his party would remain “pro-European”, but added that the idea of rejoining the EU was “for the birds”.

Today, Davey will give a speech to the LibDems online conference, in which he is expected to double-down on these messages.

He will insist his party's plans for a federal UK will create a "genuine partnership of nations and regions" and are alternative to the SNP and the "distraction" of independence.

Davey will apparently say: "I can understand why people would seek any alternative to life under Boris Johnson's cruel and incompetent Tory Government.

"But whether it takes four months or four years, Boris Johnson will be gone. The shared history and values of our family of nations - fashioned over centuries - will endure.

"And so it falls to us, as Liberal Democrats, to offer a better way forward. We must offer an alternative to both the dishonest, embarrassingly incompetent Conservative Government in Westminster and the failing SNP Government, distracted by its pursuit of independence from serving the real interests of the Scottish people.

"So we must also offer a new future - a federal future for our United Kingdom.

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"A genuine partnership of nations and regions, that gives individuals more control over their own lives."

In response, an SNP spokesperson told The National the LibDems would be remembered for “punishing the most vulnerable communities” in Scotland.

They said: “Ed Davey is right, the UK has been around longer than just one term of government. Scotland hasn't voted Conservative since 1955, yet we've been lumbered with decades of Tory rule for the majority of that time, thanks to the LibDems.

“The Liberal-Tory coalition government ushered in an era of brutal austerity, punishing the most vulnerable communities across Scotland, and for that they will never be forgiven.

"With independence we will create a fairer, more socially just Scotland and flourish as an equal partner in the EU.”