Sturgeon vows to act 'responsibly'
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon promised voters in the rest of the UK her party would use its influence after the General Election "responsibly and constructively".
With polls pointing to a hung parliament after May 7, and with support for the SNP still riding high following last year's independence referendum, the Scottish nationalists could hold the balance of power.
In those circumstances the Scottish First Minister said her party would "not do any deals which would put the Tories into power".
The SNP's manifesto "above all else" seeks to end austerity, with a proposed £180 billion increase in public spending across the UK.
Ms Sturgeon also restated her party's opposition to Trident, saying SNP MPs at Westminster would seek to build a "progressive alliance" against the renewal of the nuclear weapons system.
With the SNP expected to return a record number of MPs, Ms Sturgeon told voters in Scotland this would make their voice heard at Westminster "more loudly than it has ever been".
But she also had a message to voters south of border, saying: "Although you can't vote SNP your views do matter to me and you have a right to know what to expect of my party if the votes of the Scottish people give us influence in a hung parliament.
"If the SNP emerges from this election in a position of influence we will exercise that influence responsibly and constructively, and we will always seek to exercise it in the interests of people not just in Scotland but across the whole of the UK."
Ms Sturgeon added that SNP MPs at Westminster would champion policies aimed at "building a stronger economy and a fairer society".
There were cheers when she told the audience at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena: "The SNP will always support independence."
But she added: "This election is not about independence, it is about making Scotland stronger."
To that end, she said her party would "use the influence of SNP voters at Westminster to ensure promises made during the referendum are delivered".
Scottish nationalists are calling for the implementation of the Smith Commission proposals on further devolution.
The party, however, wants to go further than that and would like to see Scotland responsible for all tax and spending matters north of the border.
However, David Cameron has raised fresh concerns over the impact of SNP policies on the rest of the United Kingdom, pledging an annual review and Commons statement to make sure England, Wales and Northern Ireland do not ''lose out'' due to decisions taken in Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon responded: "Let me say this to David Cameron: We will oppose any effort to undermine the Scottish Parliament."
Ms Sturgeon insisted that by working with others in a hung parliament, the SNP could help bring about "better politics and policies for people right across the UK who are desperate for change as people in Scotland are right now".
She stressed she was not "seeking to create division", saying there was "no back door to Scottish independence" in this election campaign.
The First Minister said: "My interest is in seeking to build alliances across the UK for better politics and better policies, because that will help people in Scotland.
"I'm not trying to hid my political beliefs as far as independence, but I'm saying very clearly we can work together to get the change that people in Scotland want and many, many people in the rest of these isles want as well."