Published: Saturday 4th April 2015 by The News Editor
Nicola Sturgeon has firmly denied telling a foreign ambassador that she would rather see David Cameron than Ed Miliband in Downing Street after the General Election.
The SNP leader is to join an anti-nuclear rally to press the case for a “progressive alliance” at Westminster, but faced calls to explain claims a diplomatic memo recorded her saying privately that the Labour leader was not “prime minister material”.
As she sought to capitalise on a huge boost in popularity after a strong performance in the televised leaders debate, the First Minister insisted claims in the Daily Telegraph were “categorically, 100% untrue”.
Campaigning continues into Easter with Labour unveiling a plan to build 125,000 homes by forcing banks to invest at least £5 billion put in new tax-free savings accounts for first-time-buyers in building properties.
Mr Miliband will say housing will be “the top priority for additional capital investment in the next parliament” in a bid to secure the support of growing numbers concerned about the shortage of affordable homes.
The Tories are unveiling a pledge to force pornography websites to use effective age-verification tools to keep out under-18s or risk being shut down.
But the Scottish National Party leader’s strong performance in the high-profile televised debate has focused attention on her party’s potentially pivotal role in forming the next UK government.
Tories described the prospect of a Labour government propped up by the votes of the Scottish nationalists as a “lethal cocktail” which would destabilise the country and undermine the economic recovery.
And in an echo of the sort of headlines that greeted Nick Clegg’s perceived victory in the 2010 TV leaders debates, she was branded “the most dangerous woman in Britain” by the Daily Mail.
Polls suggest the anti-austerity SNP could snatch dozens of Labour seats north of the border and Ms Sturgeon has vowed to use Commons influence to “lock out” the Tories and ensure Labour does not “sell out on its values”.
However the Daily Telegraph claimed a UK Government memorandum written after Scotland’s First Minister met Sylvie Bermann in February detailed her preference for David Cameron remaining in Downing Street.
The note, seen by the newspaper, was written by a British civil servant after a conversation with the French consul-general.
According to the Telegraph, it said: “Discussion appears to have focused mainly on the political situation, with the FM stating that she wouldn’t want a formal coalition with Labour; that the SNP would almost certainly have a large number of seats … that she’d rather see David Cameron remain as PM.”
Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy said it was a “devastating revelation that exposes the uncomfortable truth behind the SNP’s General Election campaign.
“For months Nicola Sturgeon has been telling Scots she wants rid of David Cameron yet behind closed doors with foreign governments she admits she wants a Tory Government.
“If Scotland votes SNP in May then Nicola Sturgeon will get her wish – the Tories will be the largest party across the UK and David Cameron will return to Downing Street. Only a vote for Labour will deliver a Labour government.”
In an angry retort to one of the Telegraph journalists who wrote the story, the SNP leader wrote on Twitter: “your story is categorically, 100%, untrue … which I’d have told you if you’d asked me at any point today.”
A spokeswoman for the First Minister added: “It must be a belated April Fool.
“As Nicola has said on numerous occasions, she wants to see the back of a Tory government which is decisively rejected by the people of Scotland and unlike Labour, the SNP is the only party that has promised to lock David Cameron out of Downing Street.”
Later she is due to join the annual Scrap Trident group march in Glasgow, only a short distance from the Faslane home of the fleet of nuclear-armed submarines.
“Never before have the establishment Westminster parties been so unpopular – and never has there been a greater opportunity to build a progressive alliance across these islands to chart a different course,” she is due tell the rally.
“And nothing sets these two visions apart more than the nuclear weapons sitting just a few miles down the river Clyde.”
The latest poll to examine the impact of Thursday’s TV debate between seven party leaders showed they all received a popularity boost with Ms Sturgeon – who one poll found won on the night – coming away with the biggest advantage.
Mr Miliband will have been encouraged to see that for the first time more people think he is doing a good job than a bad one as he closes the gap on Mr Cameron in terms of personal popularity.
But the Survation polling for the Daily Mirror also appeared to show it had little immediate effect on how people intend to vote at the General Election on May 7.
Mr Miliband will use a rally of party supporters to set out a package of housing measures, including a guarantee that anyone living in an area for three years will be guaranteed priority access to new homes under a first time buyers first policy.
The money will be generated by channeling the investments banks and building societies make off the back off the new first time buyer ISA into housing.
Labour said savers will still be guaranteed the same return on their money and and be able to withdraw it any time.
The Tory pledge comes after NSPCC research found more than one in 10 children (12%) aged 12 to 13 have made or been part of a sexually explicit video, 9% fear they are addicted to porn and 18% have seen shocking or upsetting images.
It would set up an independent regulator with the power to compel Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block sites which failed to include effective age verification and fine any ISPs that did not co-operate.
Published: Saturday 4th April 2015 by The News Editor