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Miliband 'bullied' on SNP by Tories

Published 27/04/2015

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says the people of Scotland will decide over another referendum
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says the people of Scotland will decide over another referendum

Ed Miliband has been "bullied" by the Conservatives into ruling out a coalition deal between the SNP and Labour in the event of a hung parliament, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said .

Scotland's First Minister said the Labour leader had allowed himself to be "kicked around" by the Tories and called on him to be "tougher" and "bolder".

With polling suggesting no one party will have a majority after May 7 and support for the SNP riding high in Scotland, the Conservatives have ramped up warnings about a post-election deal between Labour and the Scottish nationalists.

Labour leader Mr Miliband insisted at the weekend that he is "not interested in deals" with the SNP.

In the latest of BBC1's series of leader interviews with Evan Davis, Ms Sturgeon said Westminster politicians were in danger of being "insulting" to Scottish voters.

She said: "I've not ruled anything out here, I've always said a coalition with Labour is highly unlikely, Ed Miliband has since said the same because he's been sort of bullied by the Tories to rule these things out."

The SNP leader said she had not ruled out a confidence and supply deal between the two parties.

When it was put to her that Mr Miliband had, she said: "I think what he says the morning after the election will probably be different to what he says now.

"He's in an election campaign, he's trying to cling to the pretence that he is going to get a majority. Everyone else knows that's not looking likely.

"But what I am saying is I think a vote-by-vote arrangement is both most likely and probably the way in which a big team of SNP MPs can wield maximum influence for Scotland's benefit."

Commenting further on Mr Miliband, she added: "I think he should be a bit tougher in not being kicked around so much by the Tories.

"I think he should be bolder in saying that he will respect the wishes of voters because there is a more fundamental point than just how people in Scotland vote."

Ms Sturgeon was pressed on whether she would support a Labour minority government's Queen's speech even if she did not support 10% or even 50% of it.

She said: "I'm not going to do anything that would put, in the days after May 7, a Tory government into office.

"In fact, I've gone to the opposite extreme and said we should lock out a Tory government.

"But the point I'm making, and again I bring to this a lot of experience of minority government, the point is the Queen's speech is one vote in the House of Commons.

"How you exert influence over the lifetime of a parliament, particularly with the Fixed Term Parliament Act, is far more important, so I would seek to use the influence of the SNP, if Scotland gives us that influence, to effect change over the lifetime of the parliament.

"And then the 1% or 10% or whatever per cent it is that I don't agree with, I will then seek to change the Labour government's mind on that over the life of the parliament."

She highlighted her experience of running a "stable, successful" minority SNP government in Scotland for four years.

The SNP leader said: "We've got experience of this in Scotland, minority government needn't be chaotic, it needn't lead to pandemonium... it needn't be unstable. The contrary can be true.

"We've all got a responsibility to make it work and I'm saying I will play my part as leader of the SNP in making sure the SNP is seeking to make it work in the interests of people in Scotland, and in the interests of people across the UK."

Ms Sturgeon insisted that SNP MPs at Westminster would not vote on issues that are "genuinely English only" and have no budgetary link to Scotland.

Asked who she would support in football if England were playing Germany, she said: "I have no issue with England doing well at football or at any sport. I think I'd probably support England."

Earlier, grilled by young people on BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat on why she was ''refusing to rule out'' another referendum, Ms Sturgeon said: '''What I'm very clear about is that this General Election is not about having another referendum.

''Even if, and I'm not saying we will incidentally, even if the SNP was to win every single seat in Scotland on May 7, I would not take that as the green light to have a referendum.

''That's not a mandate for another referendum, because this election is not about independence, it's about giving Scotland stronger clout in a stronger voice in the House of Commons.''

She added: ''I'm not taking any vote for the SNP in this election as a mandate for independence. There's no future referendum on the table just now or being proposed just now.''

Ms Sturgeon said a bloc of SNP MPs at Westminster could ''force some really good changes'', but acknowledged that in a minority parliament her party ''won't prevail on everything'' and would have to make compromises.

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