JOHN Swinney has said he was “genuinely disgusted” by the Tory party ditching an unwell candidate and replacing him with Douglas Ross.

We told on Thursday how the Scottish Tory leader U-turned on his plans not to stand as an MP at this election.

It means that former Scotland Office minister David Duguid will no longer stand in the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East seat.

Duguid has since insisted that the party’s claim he is “unable to stand” due to ill health is “simply incorrect”.

Asked for his reaction while campaigning in Glasgow, Swinney said: “I genuinely was disgusted by what I witnessed.

“What has happened is the most despicable way to treat somebody who’s facing illness, an absolutely despicable way to treat somebody facing illness.

“And David Duguid is a well-respected member of Parliament. My Westminster colleagues have a very good relationship with him. And he is a good man.

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“And he’s facing health difficulties.”

Swinney added that sometimes people become unwell and pointed to Richard Lochhead, an SNP minister who is currently recovering from illness.

“For Douglas Ross to essentially require the removal of David Duguid who was perfectly prepared to stand for election, and whose local association wanted him to do so, just to create a new pathway for Douglas Ross to have a new opportunity is a new low, for even Douglas Ross.

“So I am disgusted by it. Horrified by it. I think it's no way to treat another human being and timings meant the party had just over 24 hours to get another candidate in place, so he decided to put himself forward."

D-Day apology

Swinney also hit out at Rishi Sunak’s “foolish” decision to skip a D-Day commemoration event to participate in an ITV interview.

The Prime Minister was forced to issue a grovelling apology after leaving anniversary events early to take part in the interview, admitting it was a “mistake not to stay in France longer”.

Downing Street has since denied reports that Sunak was initially considering skipping the commemorations altogether.

A No 10 spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister was always scheduled to attend D-Day commemorations, including the UK National Commemoration event in Normandy, and it is incorrect to suggest otherwise.”

Speaking at a campaign event in Glasgow, the First Minister said: “It’s becoming ever more clear that it’s all over for the Conservative Party and if it wasn’t all over before the Prime Minister’s foolish decision to turn his back on the D-Day commemorations and return home to perpetuate the baseless claim he made on Tuesday in the television debate, it certainly is over now.”

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Sunak’s apology came at the end of a bad week of campaigning as we told earlier this week how a Treasury official distanced themselves from his claim Labour’s spending plans would result in a £2000 tax rise for people in the UK.

Spending cuts

Elsewhere during his campaign event, Swinney warned that voting Labour will result in “significant cuts” to public spending.

He claimed that a government led by Sir Keir Starmer will “deliver Tory spending cuts” as he said Scots have a “very big decision to make” ahead of polling day on July 4.

John Swinney spoke about Tory and Labour spending cuts while out campaigning. 

Addressing SNP activists in the Springburn area, Swinney (above) said public spending is “the real fault line” and the “real issue that matters” in the election campaign.

Speaking about the “fundamental and dangerous position” Scotland is in, he warned of the “enormous pressure that there is on the public finances and on public services”.

He said a Conservative or Labour government will result in “significant public spending cuts”, as he claimed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Tory party is “hostile” to spending cash on public services.

“That has been the hallmark of their existence as a party,” Swinney said.

He said Labour has made a choice to follow the same rules on public debt as the Tories, and has “signed itself up to a Conservative outlook on public expenditure which is going to do significant damage to the public services of our country”.

His warning came after experts at the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank said both main Westminster parties are “avoiding the reality” that their plans lock them into “sharp” spending cuts after the election.

Rachel Reeves came north of the Border earlier this week. 

After shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves (above) visited Scotland earlier this week, Swinney insisted the “iron-fisted” approach she had adopted “translates into a continuation of Tory spending cuts in Scotland if there is a Labour government”.

The First Minister’s message to voters is that public spending will be “cut and restricted because of the stance being taken by the Labour Party”.

He added the “only explanation” for that stance is that “the Labour Party must be so terrified of scaring off Tory voters in England that they are adopting the same approach to public policy as the Conservatives”.

Swinney said: “In Scotland that’s not on, we don’t want that here in Scotland.

“What we want in Scotland is investment to boost our economy.”

He said “progressive taxation” in Scotland, where higher earners pay more income tax than their counterparts south of the border, has netted an extra £1.5 billion for public services.

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As a result he said there is now a “simple choice emerging in the course of this election campaign”.

Swinney concluded: “If you vote Labour in Scotland, you are voting for spending cuts. If you vote SNP, you are voting for investment.

“If you vote Labour in Scotland, you are voting for spending cuts. If you vote SNP, you are voting to invest in the future of Scotland, you are voting to put the interests of Scotland first.”