FORMER Better Together chief Alistair Darling has intervened in the Holyrood election, telling Tory supporters that Anas Sarwar "shares your priorities".  

The ex-chancellor, who worked closely with the Conservatives to keep Scotland in the UK in 2014, called on voters in Tory-held seats to give their second vote to Scottish Labour this week. 

The party's decision to work with the Conservatives on a cross-party basis has been cited as a key reason for the decline in Labour’s fortunes in recent years.

But Darling insisted the party has changed since new leader Sarwar took over just two months ago.

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He has written to voters in Tory-held seats, making a direct appeal to them to give their second vote – on the regional list section of the ballot – to Labour.

It comes as his party and the Tories are battling for second place at Holyrood.

Darling insisted “voting Conservative with your second vote won’t help stop the SNP”.

He said: “Anas Sarwar shares your priorities." 

Although the Scottish Conservatives insist they are the best-placed party to stop a second independence referendum, Darling claimed “only a vote for Scottish Labour will do that”.

Speaking to voters in Tory-held areas, he said: “In your seat, voting Conservative with your second vote won’t help stop the SNP. Only a vote for Scottish Labour will do that.

“You may not have voted Labour in the past, or you may have left us in recent years, but under Anas Sarwar’s leadership we have changed.”

The former MP claimed Labour under Sarwar had run an “uplifting election campaign” which was “focused on a national recovery plan for Scotland, not rerunning the arguments from 2014”.

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He told Scots every vote for Nicola Sturgeon’s party would be claimed as “a vote for another referendum – even though we know this is not a priority for most Scots”.

Darling added: “We can take the threat of another referendum off the table by preventing an SNP majority in the Parliament.

“The only way to stop an SNP majority is by voting Scottish Labour with your second vote, on the peach ballot paper.”

Former Better Together head Alistair Darling has written to voters in Tory-held seats

SNP depute leader Keith Brown (above( said Darling's intervention is an "absolute disaster" for Labour.

“Not only have they learned nothing from their toxic alliance with the Tories in the Better Together campaign, but they are actively keeping it alive," he said.

“Labour voters will be horrified to see senior figures in their party say they share Tory priorities. This simply confirms that to elect experienced leadership that will stand up to the Tories it has to be Both Votes SNP.

“Labour may have a new leader but they clearly haven’t changed one bit. Labour have confirmed today that they are incapable of standing up for Scotland and standing up to the Tories - no matter what they do to Scotland."