Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Miliband dismisses Salmond input

Alex Salmond will never be allowed input in a UK Labour government budget "in a million years", leader Ed Miliband has said.

Mr Miliband again ruled out a coalition with the SNP after the election, but repeatedly brushed off suggestions that he may require SNP votes to get his policies through if he fails to secure a majority in the election.

In a speech in Clydebank, he said he can win a majority, and it will be up to other parties to decide how they will vote on Labour policies.

Yesterday, Mr Salmond, former SNP leader and Westminster candidate in the forthcoming election, said the SNP would hold "the power" if a Labour government needed its votes to survive.

Mr Miliband said: "Alex Salmond is at it again, and it's a combination of bluster and bluff.

"I gather he has got a book to sell.

"I'll tell you who is going to be writing the Labour budget, it's me and Ed Balls.

"It's not going to be Alex Salmond, not in a million years."

When asked to rule out a vote-by-vote confidence and supply deal, Mr Miliband said: "Look, honestly, how other parties decide to vote on the basis of a Labour Queen's speech is going to be up to them, but I want a majority Labour government.

"And, look, with the greatest of respect, we will let Alex Salmond try to sell his book, but what we are going to try and do is show the people of Scotland what the choice is at the general election.

"And, you know, you don't blow the whistle on the match before the game is over and I am not going to do that, because there is six and half weeks for people to make up their minds."

When pressed to rule out a vote-by-vote deal, he said: "As I have said, it will be for other parties to decide how to vote on a Labour Queen's speech.

"I couldn't be clearer, I'm putting forward a Labour manifesto I want to implement.

"We shouldn't be so presumptuous to decide the outcome of the election before the election has happened.

"I believe I can win a majority Labour government."

Mr Miliband said Labour will deliver the change Scotland needs, calling for a "fundamental break" from the coalition Government's "deadly cocktail of extreme spending cuts and unfair taxes".

He said: "Tory austerity makes it so much harder for us to educate the young. Tory austerity makes life insecure for the old, Tory austerity undermines our NHS and our vital public services in every single part of the UK.

"So we will put paid once and for all to Tory austerity with a Labour government."

Labour offered a "fundamentally different" plan to get the deficit down in its goals, approach and values, he said.

He the attacked SNP plans for full fiscal autonomy, which he said would extend Tory austerity north of the border.

"That means the SNP fight this election still proposing to end the sharing of resources across the UK, the principle of redistribution," he said.

"They are campaigning for the end of the Barnett Formula, replacing it with a reliance on risky and unpredictable oil revenues - revenues which even (First Minister) Nicola Sturgeon admits are astonishingly hard to predict.

"That has real consequences for Scotland because fiscal autonomy would make it impossible for Scotland to end Tory austerity - and in fact, worse than that, it would extend it.

"New figures recently published by the Scottish Government show it would mean huge cuts to the funding of health, education and policing - in total, on the basis of last week's Budget, £7.6 billion lost to the people of Scotland.

"The SNP proposal for fiscal autonomy would cost Scotland billions, money that would have to come from cuts to the fundamental public services on which all the people of Scotland rely."

SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie said an SNP deal with Labour would come at a price, with more powers for Scotland and decommissioning nuclear weapons described as a starting point.

He said Mr Miliband has "lost the plot" and would be foolish to reject an SNP deal as it would make him "the handmaiden of another Tory government".

"If we are in a position to help we are prepared to help a Labour administration, but that will come at price," he told the BBC's Daily Politics.

"If it is a confidence and supply arrangement, we need to agree on a number of things at the outset.

"It it is a vote-by-vote basis then there needs to be negotiations throughout the course of the parliament."

He added: "We want to see more powers for Scotland, that is self-evident, and we have said the UK cannot afford to spend £100 billion we don't have on Trident and its replacement.

"This is our starting point, we have made it very clear, and I really don't understand for the life of me why Ed Miliband is saying these silly things."

Glasgow-born Labour MP Fiona McTaggart said: "There's no way that Labour will do deals with the Scottish Nationalist Party."

But she acknowledged that "the odds are nobody could be the government of the day without their support".

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: "The only way Ed Miliband is going to get into Downing Street is on Alex Salmond's coat tails.

"If that means letting the SNP call the shots, that's a compromise he'd happily reach.

"These half-baked assurances from the Labour leader won't wash.

"His hesitancy on this issue is making it clear that the only party willing to stand up to Alex Salmond and the SNP are the Scottish Conservatives."

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said: "The first-past-the-post voting system is broken and at this election people are keener than ever to vote for what they believe in.

"With bold policies such as a £10 minimum wage by 2020, publicly-owned railways, and opposition to the TTIP trade deal which threatens public services, it's no wonder so many members of the Green Surge are former Labour supporters."

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph