Miliband warning on SNP ‘gamble’

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Published: Wednesday 29th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Ed Miliband has issued a warning to anti-Tory Scottish voters that backing the SNP is a “gamble” that could keep the Conservatives in power.

In an acknowledgement that the rise of Nicola Sturgeon’s party is poised to keep Labour from crossing the victory line, the opposition leader admitted to “challenges” north of the border following a slew of polls consistently showing the party is on the verge of wipeout.

Mr Miliband refused to be drawn on whether a government formed by a party with the second largest number of seats would lack legitimacy, which is likely to be seen as an indication that Mr Miliband is leaving the door open for such possibility.

The Labour leader also denied he had been complacent in his approach to Scotland over the last five years but said he takes “responsibility for everything”.

Insisting Labour is “making the weather”, a “passionate” Mr Miliband said he was enjoying the campaign and the opportunity to put forward the “real me”.

He told the Press Association: “We’ve got challenges in Scotland, of course we do, but we are going to keep fighting the argument that I believe is the right argument.

“There are two roads for Scotland. There’s a road to a referendum with the SNP. There’s a road to a fairer economy with Labour.

“For those people who want to get rid of the Conservatives, there’s only one way of getting rid of the Conservatives in my view and that is voting Labour.

“Anything else is a gamble and we are going to keep prosecuting that argument.

“I think it is very interesting that the SNP used to say that the referendum last year was a once-in-a-lifetime, once-in-a-generation decision and now they haven’t ruled out asking for another one in the next five years.”

While Labour is neck and neck with the Conservatives in national polls, research in Scotland points to near wipeout for the party’s Scottish MPs.

Asked if he took responsibility for the situation, Mr Miliband replied: “I take responsibility for everything the Labour party is doing.

“I think we have got a good argument. I think our candidates and our activists are fighting this election incredibly hard, including in Scotland. We know it is challenging but there are lots of people still making up their minds.”

Denying he had made mistakes in Scotland during his leadership, Mr Miliband insisted the changing situation was fuelled by the referendum.

He said: “It’s more about the fact that last year the referendum was a very divisive moment. 45 voted yes, 55 voted no. It divided communities, it divided families and, therefore, it was inevitable that there was going to be a big challenge.

“Labour is “doing the things that we need to do and the right things to show people what the choices are in this election.”

The Labour leader denied there had been any complacency over Scottish support during his time at the helm. “Not on my part, and, I don’t think, actually to be fair, on the part of Scottish Labour,” he said.

“We’ve got nine days to go so I’m going to focus on the contest at this election.”

Neck and neck polls have led to frenzied speculation about how a new government will be formed after May 7.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said a coalition formed by the second largest party would lack “legitimacy”.

Asked if he agreed, Mr Miliband replied: “I’m not going to get into the post-election speculation before we have had the election.”

Pressed on the prospect of ruling as a minority government he replied: “I’m focused on a Labour majority government.”

Mr Miliband insisted Labour has been setting the agenda during the election campaign and has “been passionate all the way along”.

“I feel we are the people making the weather each day,” he said. “I’m enjoying it.”

He added: “I think there’s been a chance for me to put forward the real me and not the caricature. I think that’s important.

“I think the interesting thing is, if you take the Milifandom thing, is has been about young people saying we want a voice in politics.”

Published: Wednesday 29th April 2015 by The News Editor

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