Murphy does not want SNP coalition

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Published: Wednesday 14th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Labour does not want a coalition with the SNP if it fails to secure a majority in the general election, Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy has said.

UK Labour leader Ed Miliband was repeatedly pressed on his potential coalition plans at the weekend amid polls predicting a surge in support for the SNP and did not rule out a deal with Nicola Sturgeon’s party if the May 7 poll results in a hung parliament.

His Scottish ally Mr Murphy has now said Labour “don’t expect, we don’t need, we don’t want and we are not planning for a coalition with the SNP or anyone else”.

The East Renfrewshire MP also said he has not set out to be “combative” with UK Labour.

His plan to fund 1,000 extra nurses with taxes mainly taken from London property owners was described as “unscrupulous” by Hackney Labour MP Diane Abbott and “fiscally vindictive” by Tory London mayor Boris Johnson.

Mr Murphy, who mounted Irn Bru crates on a speaking tour for the Better Together campaign, also said he is “not a unionist”.

He set his sights on winning the votes of Yes voters at the general election, insisting Labour’s temporary alignment with the Tories and the Liberal Democrats during the independence referendum campaign is over.

Speaking at a Scottish Parliament Journalists’ Association lunch, Mr Murphy said: “The parties that expect and plan to form the government don’t get involved in the speculation about: ‘Under what circumstances this, what circumstances that?’.

“We don’t expect, we don’t need, we don’t want, and we are not planning for a coalition with the SNP or anyone else.

“That’s our approach and we have been quite consistent about it.”

He added: “Nothing I say is about being combative, it’s about saying where I stand and where the Scottish Labour Party stand and people shouldn’t see that as being combative.

“I talk to Ed Miliband regularly and I look forward to campaigning with him in Scotland shortly.

“Diane Abbott has her own thing to do, Boris has his own thing to do, and I’m looking forward to helping Ed with the thing that he has to do, which is becoming Prime Minister.

“But in the meantime I am the leader of the Scottish Labour Party and I should take a judgement on each of these issues about what is right for Scotland.”

He continued: “I have never been a unionist. It’s never been my political tradition.

“As a family of Irish Catholic immigrants we’re not unionists.

“I grew up in a family of trade-unionists, but we’re not political unionists.

“What happened in the referendum was you had a temporary alignment of two different unionist traditions, a Conservative & Unionist tradition inside the Conservative Party and elements of the Liberal Democrats, and you had a trade-unionist and socialist solidarity tradition inside the Labour Party.

“For a moment there was an alignment for different reasons of political culture and history, but that moment is gone.”

The SNP’s Sandra White said: “With Labour struggling in the polls, it’s no wonder that Jim Murphy is desperate to rewrite history and try to distance himself from the Tories – who Labour spent two years working hand in glove with in the referendum.

“Does Jim Murphy really expect people to believe that despite having spent the entire referendum campaign arguing for a No vote, he does not believe in the union?”

The MSP added: “It is utter nonsense and a sign of desperation that he would even attempt to claim otherwise. If it walks like a unionist and talks like a unionist, it is a unionist – and Jim Murphy will never sound like anything else.”

Published: Wednesday 14th January 2015 by The News Editor

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