Miliband rules out pact with SNP

Published: Saturday 2nd May 2015 by The News Editor

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Ed Miliband declared he would not allow the SNP to enjoy any “leverage” over a Labour government as he accused the Tories of trying to divert voters’ attention from the real issues facing the country.

With just five days remaining for the parties to break the opinion poll deadlock and secure a General Election victory, he said it was a battle “between two sets of values” not between two countries.

In an interview with The Guardian – which yesterday declared its support for Labour on Thursday – he said Prime Minister David Cameron had ” entirely withdrawn from the central issues facing the country”.

Mr Miliband said: “The real battle is not a choice between two nations, as Cameron pretends, but between two sets of values: is the country run by an elite of the most rich and powerful or is it run for working people?

“Cameron used to say the three letters that mattered to him most were NHS … in this campaign they’ve been replaced by SNP.”

Mr Cameron – who will seek to woo older voters today with a package of pensioner-friendly policy promises – has repeatedly warned of the dangers of Labour being “propped up” by the SNP.

Tories seized on comments from Labour frontbenchers suggesting the party would be ready to engage in dialogue with the nationalists on a vote-by-vote basis in the event of a hung parliament.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said Mr Miliband had “lost the plot” and appeared ready to allow the Tories to remain in power rather than take up the chance of forming a “progressive” alliance in the Commons.

But a defiant Mr Miliband used a rally in Glasgow last night to repeat his insistence that he would countenance “no deal, no pact, no coalition, no tie-in”.

“I will never put the Tories into government. I have spent my entire political career fighting them,” he said as he sought to counter a nationalist surge that polls suggest could see them snatch most Labour seats.

“But the tragedy is that the SNP may very well might let the Tories in. That’s what could happen if the Tories are the largest party.”

Labour former Scottish First Minister, Jack McConnell suggested it would be hard for Mr Miliband to seek to govern if losses north of the border meant Labour was not the biggest party in the Commons.

“Even if Cameron was to lose a few seats, if he still has a few seats more than Labour then public perception will be that he has won,” Lord McConnell told BBC2’s Newsnight.

“Therefore the SNP argument that everybody else could gang up on him will not work. Anyone who tries to get around that, to get a deal to get a different PM, will be in trouble.”

In a bid to press home his message, Mr Miliband told the Guardian he had identified 10 key pieces of legislation that would appear in any Labour Queen’s Speech.

They would cover areas such as an energy bill freeze, the repeal of health reforms, cutting student tuition fees, a tax avoidance crackdown, child care reforms, minimum wage changes, rents and planning and apprenticeships.

A Conservative spokesman said: ” Ed Miliband can’t deliver what he promises.

“They’d have to be signed off by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP – and if they don’t contain what the SNP wants, they simply won’t get through.”

Launching the Tories’ manifesto for pensioners, Mr Cameron said OAPs would be “particularly vulnerable” if Mr Miliband was to replace him in Number 10.

“I am determined to make Britain the best country in which to grow old – security and freedom when it comes to your pensions; guaranteed, personal access to your GP; and the ability to pass on the family home to your children.

“But that will all be at risk if Ed Miliband, propped up by the SNP, walks into Downing Street next week.

“It would mean a return to higher taxes, spending and borrowing and pensioners would be particularly vulnerable because many of them do not have the option of increasing their incomes by working more.”

Ms Sturgeon said: “SNP MPs will work to build progressive alliances at Westminster and deliver an end to the cuts.

“What is now clear is that Ed Miliband does not share the same commitment.

“No one who is truly committed to delivering progressive politics would contemplate for one minute ushering the Tories back into office, rather than work with the SNP.”

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, campaigning in Yorkshire, set out plans for a new taskforce aimed at tackling youth unemployment within 100 days of a new government being formed.

The Deputy Prime Minister will say his ambition is to see youth unemployment cut to its lowest level since records began more than 30 years ago

“It is hugely ambitious but it is absolutely achievable,” he will say.

Mr Miliband defended his decision to be interviewed by Russell Brand – described as a “joke” by Mr Cameron – amid suggestions he could receive the endorsement of the comedian-turned-activist, who has previously advised people not to vote at all.

Brand posted a teaser video saying further footage from the encounter would be published on Monday.

“I think people want politics to be opened up, and if he endorses me that is fine, but I have got to admit sometimes that change is going to be hard,” Mr Miliband told The Guardian.

“I think the public are not looking for pie-in-the-sky promises, or euphoria. I think they are in the mood for something quite gritty and realistic.”

Published: Saturday 2nd May 2015 by The News Editor

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