8 Mar 2015

SNP pact: is Labour considering doing a deal?

Labour refuses to rule out a coalition with the Scottish National Party after the election, despite a poll suggesting that Ed Miliband is more unpopular in Scotland than David Cameron in Scotland.

Labour’s shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint said the SNP were not the “social conscience” of Labour, but she refused to rule out a coalition after the election, in which the party is widely predicted to lose many of its Scottish seats to the SNP.

Read more: Cameron - Labour should rule out pact with SNP

Ed Miliband and other senior figures within the party have come under increasing pressure to end speculation a pact may be on the cards. The prime minister has said the Labour leader should explicitly rule out a deal with the SNP “if he cares about this country”.

‘Social conscience’

Ms Flint said her party would take no lectures from the SNP about how it could “somehow be more progressive then Labour”. She told BBC 1’s Andrew Marr show: “We are focused on winning a Labour majority government. Let me say this. We do not want, we do not need and we do not plan to have any coalition with the SNP.

The SNP is not the social conscience of the Labour party. Caroline Flint

“There is going to be a choice at this election between who will sit in Number 10. It is a choice between Labour or the Conservatives forming a majority government.

“Every vote that is cast for the SNP makes it more likely that David Cameron will retain the keys to Number 10.

“We are not going to take any lectures from the SNP about how they can somehow be more progressive than Labour. That is just not the case.”

Read Paul Mason's blog: Labour, SNP, Greens - could they do business together?

The SNP leader ruled out supporting a Tory government and said it was “unlikely” the SNP would enter a formal coalition with Labour in the event of a hung parliament, but indicated her MPs could work with Mr Miliband’s party on an “issue-by-issue basis”.

Popularity contest

However, the SNP welcomed the publication of a new YouGov poll which suggested that Mr Miliband was less popular than Mr Cameron in Scotland. According to the findings, Nicola Sturgeon‘s most recent approval rating was 85 points better than the Labour leader’s negative rating of minus 75 in Scotland.

Angus Robertson, the SNP’s general election campaign director, said: “This is another damaging blow to Labour leader Ed Miliband; once again showing that he is hugely unpopular in Scotland – even more unpopular than a Tory prime minister.

This is another damaging blow to Labour leader Ed Miliband. Angus Robertson

“The results are very encouraging, but we aren’t taking a single seat or vote for granted in May.

“We are working hard to demonstrate how voting SNP in May will give all the people of Scotland real power at Westminster – and these polls show that this is a strong and attractive message across the country.”