Vote for SNP 'would save Cameron'
Voting for the SNP would "save" David Cameron and lead to another Tory austerity government for the UK, Jim Murphy has warned Scots.
The new Scottish Labour leader insisted any seats the nationalists take from his party in May would help the Conservative leader "cling on" in Downing Street.
He issued the warning after Ed Miliband urged voters north of the border to back Labour in the upcoming general election to help ''boot out this Tory government''.
With two months to go until the election the pair addressed a special one day Scottish Labour Party conference in Edinburgh.
Mr Murphy told activists there: " In this forthcoming election there's only one organisation that can save David Cameron in Scotland. That's the SNP.
"The fact is that any seat that the SNP take from the Labour Party is an enormous step towards David Cameron clinging on to power in Downing Street in May."
Mr Murphy, who was elected Scottish Labour leader in December, added: " This is the closest election in my lifetime, the votes of Scotland will matter in a remarkable way in this election.
"All the recent polls shows it is all within the margin of error. So let's make sure that Scotland never becomes the error in David Cameron's margin."
He recalled how Scots had not returned a single Conservative MP in the 1997 election that saw Tony Blair sweep to power as he urged voters: "L et's come together with a sense of pride and determination and let's not inflict another Tory government and austerity on ourselves or the whole of the rest of the United Kingdom."
Mr Murphy added: " If we don't stand up to Tory austerity no-one else will. If Scotland doesn't help prevent Cameron from getting into Downing Street, think of what it means for those families who are struggling to get by on foodbanks."
Party members at the conference backed a change in Scottish Labour's constitution, stating clearly that the party would always work "in the patriotic interest of the people of Scotland".
Mr Murphy said the changes would create a "more confident and powerful Scottish Labour Party".
He hailed Scotland as a "remarkable nation" with a "huge sense of history and pride in what we have achieved", before insisting that this "pride and patriotism" did not belong to any political party.
"Our history belongs to no political party," he told the conference.
"Our flag belongs to no political cause. We are proud and patriotic Scots and our history belongs to no one organisation in our country."
He also told how the changes to the constitution would give the Scottish Labour Party greater control north of the border.
Mr Murphy has spearheaded the changes after his predecessor, Johann Lamont, stood down and accused Labour leaders in London of treating the party in Scotland as a "branch office"
He said: "Some people believed that the Scottish Labour Party wasn't in charge when it came to decisions here in Scotland.
"As a consequence of the decision we have taken today, decisions about Scotland will be made here in Scotland by the party of Scotland.
"And those days where people believed that decisions were taken elsewhere in the UK, by someone else for some other reason, those days are gone. Those days are gone for good and they're not coming back."
His speech also contained a raft of new policies, which Mr Murphy has promised will be put in place if Labour wins next year's Holyrood election.
These include a pledge to reverse cuts to bursaries and increase these by £1,000 for the poorest students, along with plans to establish a special new fund, worth £1,600 per person, for 18 and 19-year-olds who go into work after leaving school, rather than going to college, university or taking up a modern apprenticeship.
This new Future Fund could be used by teenagers to help them gain qualifications to help them get on in the workplace, or could even be used to pay for driving lessons if this would help progress their career.
Mr Murphy, whose family moved to South Africa when he was a child, also announced a plan to create new scholarship for students from sub-Saharan Africa to come and study in Scotland, in honour of Nelson Mandela.
He told the conference Labour would keep university education in Scotland free from tuition fees, but said despite that " the support for working class students in Scotland lags behind the rest of the UK".
Mr Murphy said: "T oday I can announce we will reverse the cuts Nicola Sturgeon made to student support and that for the poorest young students we will boost the bursaries in Scotland by an amount that can make a real difference by a thousand pounds.
"That is a smart investment and can be make or break about staying on at university."
He also said those who do not go on to further studies after school should benefit by up to £1,600 - the average spent on tuitition fees in Scotland - thanks to the planned Future Fund
Mr Murphy said: "W hat about those who don't go to university? We have always said that the opportunities enjoyed by those who get to university shouldn't come at the expense of those who don't.
"In higher education in Scotland a young person gets an average of £1,600 spent on their fees. But what of those thousands who don't go to university, or who don't gain similar investment from the nation through college or an apprenticeship.
"They shouldn't get left behind. The same support from the state to fulfil their potential. Their hopes and dreams
"We want to redress the balance to help those young people destined to enter the world of work straight from school.
"As I've said the average spend is £1,600 so I pledge to young people today that every one of these 18 and 19-year-olds will get a Future Fund, the equivalent of a year's average HE spend, invested in their future.
"Money they can invest in training, on setting up a business, buying work tools or spend on whatever they need to get on in life."
Mr Murphy said this would " act as a powerful incentive to employers to take on young people who come with £1,600 of training support attached to them".
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson hit out at both Mr Murphy and Mr Miliband for failing to rule out the prospect of a post-election deal with the SNP.
Ms Davidson said: "This has been Scottish Labour's don't-mention-the-deal conference. Ed Miliband and Jim Murphy spoke about everything except the one thing that Scots want to know - what concessions will they hand up to the Nationalists as part of the deal the two parties are cooking up?
"To simply ignore this key question as they have done at this conference betrays Labour's arrogance and also their weakness. Ed Miliband knows he can't win a majority without his Scottish MPs and will instead have to rely on SNP MPs to prop him up as Prime Minister.
"As Prime Minister, Ed Miliband would be forced to negotiate with Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond on running Britain. It will lead to chaos for hardworking families as, on vote after vote, the SNP demand more and more from Ed Miliband."
Meanwhile SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie MP said: " This speech is further confirmation of the utter hypocrisy of Jim Murphy and Ed Miliband, and confirms why Labour's vote is melting away in Scotland.
"Working arm-in-arm with the Tories for two-and-a-half years in the No campaign, Labour were adamant that decisions at Westminster have no impact on Scotland's NHS. Now they are blurting out the truth, which is why Scotland needs responsibility for our own resources.
"In the final days and hours of the referendum, Labour told voters that Scotland's NHS was safe with a No vote - and they have now performed a complete U-turn.
"Ed Miliband should issue an immediate apology for Labour so shamelessly misleading the people of Scotland in the referendum.
"And his claim that the next UK Government will be determined by who gets the most seats is Labour's big lie in this campaign. Ed Miliband is plain wrong - it will be determined by who can command a majority in the House of Commons. If there are more anti-Tory MPs in the House of Commons than Tory MPs, the only circumstances in which David Cameron could walk back into Downing Street is if Labour let him - the SNP never will.
"It is time Labour faced reality - they are not going to win a majority in the House of Commons, and will need the votes of others to govern.
"The people of Scotland can vote for SNP MPs in May to get rid of the Tories and have a powerful voice for Scotland at Westminster - a voice which will deliver the promises made to the people of Scotland, to move away from austerity economics, and stop the waste of tens of billions of pounds on a new generation of Trident nuclear weapons."