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Flint refuses to rule out SNP pact

The Scottish National Party is not the "social conscience" of Labour, shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint has said.

But she refused to rule out a coalition after the election, in which Labour is widely predicted to lose many of its Scottish seats to the SNP.

Ed Miliband and other senior figures within the party have come under increasing pressure to end speculation a pact may be on the cards.

The Prime Minister has said the Labour leader should explicitly rule out a deal with the SNP "if he cares about this country".

David Cameron's remarks followed a suggestion by former Tory chairman Lord Baker that a grand coalition between the Conservatives and Labour may be necessary to avoid the SNP holding the balance of power at Westminster.

Today Ms Flint said her party would take no lectures from the SNP about how it could "somehow be more progressive then Labour".

She told The Andrew Marr Show: " We are focused on winning a Labour majority government. Let me say this. We do not want, we do not need and we do not plan to have any coalition with the SNP.

"There is going to be a choice at this election between who will sit in Number 10. It is a choice between Labour or the Conservatives forming a majority government.

"Every vote that is cast for the SNP makes it more likely that David Cameron will retain the keys to Number 10.

"The SNP is not the social conscience of the Labour party. They might like to see themselves like that but they are not.

"We are the party that will repeal the bedroom tax, we will raise the minimum wage, we will freeze energy prices, a policy the SNP do not support, and we are a party based on our record over 100 years of supporting social justice and success for working people.

"We are the party of the NHS. We are the party of the minimum wage and we are the party of equality. We are not going to take any lectures from the SNP about how they can somehow be more progressive than Labour. That is just not the case."

Nicola Sturgeon's party has benefited from a poll surge in recent months which could see them make massive gains in Scotland, potentially casting her as kingmaker following May 7.

The SNP leader has ruled out supporting a Tory government and said it was "unlikely" the SNP would enter a formal coalition with Labour in the event of a hung parliament, but indicated her MPs could work with Mr Miliband's party on an "issue-by-issue basis".

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman said her party did not want to go into coalition with anybody, but she too failed to rule out a deal with the SNP.

She told Sky News' Murnaghan: "It's not a sensible question ... The question is put forward by two sides.

"It is put forward by the Tories who want to talk up the SNP because they don't think they can talk up their own record.

"It is put forward by the SNP because they know people in Scotland hate the Tories quite justifiably. The only way to protect people in Scotland from another Tory Government is not to vote SNP but to vote Labour.

"We are planning and working towards a majority."

Shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran repeatedly refused to rule out a deal with the SNP and insisted the party's focus was persuading voters of the risk that voting for Ms Sturgeon's party would make it more likely that Mr Cameron remains in Number 10.

She told BBC1's Sunday Politics: "We don't want, we don't need and we are not planning for coalitions.

"When I'm out on the streets of Glasgow, as my colleagues are out in their constituencies, they understand - and I think voters understand - that every Labour seat lost is a boost to David Cameron."

She said the polls carried out by Tory peer Lord Ashcroft were "challenging" and showed that "it's a dead heat between Cameron and Ed Miliband going into Downing Street".

"Every Scot understands that's the only choice they have," she said.

"If they don't want to have David Cameron in, we must have Ed Miliband in Downing Street.

"So, therefore, voters understand that if you don't vote Labour you could actually get the Tories back."

She added: "We should be talking not about backroom deals and coalitions, we should be talking about the crisis in A&E, the problems we've got with housing, the poverty that people experience in Scotland and things a Labour government can do to change that."

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