22 Mar 2015

SNP-Labour pact: who would hold the power?

Alex Salmond is branded “terrifying” and “arrogant” as he sets out negotiations for any post-election SNP deal with Labour.

The former first minister said the Scottish National Party (SNP) would hold “the power” if a Labour government needed its votes to survive.

Alex Salmond said the party would demand the scrapping of Trident as the price of entering a “confidence and supply” agreement with Ed Miliband.

Read more: SNP pact - is Labour considering doing a deal?

But he said the “more likely” situation would be Labour and the SNP working together on a vote-by-vote basis – including detailed negotiations about Budget packages.

The comments, in a round of broadcast interviews, were immediately seized on by the Tories, with defence minister Anna Soubry branding them “terrifying”.


Mr Salmond told Sky’s Murnaghan programme: “What I think is possible is a confidence and supply arrangement where we have a limited number of objectives and in return we would vote for Budgets. More probable is a vote-by-vote arrangement.”

And he added: “If there was a confidence and supply arrangement we would move, or attempt to move, the Labour party away from signing up to the Tory austerity agenda.”

If you hold the balance, then you hold the power. Alex Salmond

Earlier Mr Salmond had told the Andrew Marr Show he hoped the election would result in a “tartan bloc” on the “green benches at Westminster”.

He said: “Hopefully that decisive bloc of SNP MPs will move the Labour Party in a different direction.

“If you hold the balance, then you hold the power.”

Mr Salmond said Mr Miliband had been “very foolish” to rule out a formal coalition with the SNP.

Pushed on whether renewing Trident was a “red line” for the SNP that would prevent a deal with Labour, Mr Salmond said: “You couldn’t have a coalition or a confidence and supply, but a vote by vote is what comes up in the House of Commons.”

‘The audacity is atonishing’

Appearing alongside the former Scottish first minister on Marr, Ms Soubry said his words were “terrifying”.

“The thought that we are in a position where you can be actually controlling in the way that you have described this United Kingdom fills me with absolute horror,” she said.

You guys are now in the position where you can be the power broker. Anna Soubry MP

“The audacity is atonishing. There was a wonderful debate in Scotland, you lost it. We are a United Kingdom, that is what the people of Scotland wanted.

“Because of the inadequacies of Labour north of the border you guys are now in the position where you can be the power broker.”

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy said the SNP would have “no bargaining chips” to control a minority government headed by Ed Miliband as they had already ruled out working with the Tories.

Advancing the Labour argument that a vote for the SNP was a vote for the Tories, he said people would take a “dim view” if the Tory leader got back in “by accident” because SNP took the Labour vote in Scotland.

When he was asked if he was frightened of Mr Salmon, Mr Murphy replied: “I’m frightened of no one.”


John Lamont MSP, Scottish Conservative chief whip said: “Four weeks before postal ballots go out, Alex Salmond is taking the votes of people in Scotland for granted and planning back-room deals with Labour from a TV sofa in London. Even for him, this is stunning arrogance.