With just 17 days to go until the general election, the Guardian predicts that the Labour party, propped up by the Scottish National Party (SNP), would have enough Westminster seats to form the next government. Depending on who you listen to or what you read it’s unclear whether Labour would enter into such a deal but it has the Conservatives rattled with Prime Minister, David Cameron, stating that a Labour/SNP coalition was a ‘frightening prospect’.
With the SNP continuing their ascent, and likely to become the third largest party at Westminster, it was perhaps no coincidence that they chose to hold their manifesto launch at the Edinburgh Indoor Climbing Arena. In ‘Stronger for Scotland’ they claim that their experience of government at Holyrood means they can play a key part in bringing progressive policies to Westminster and that small increases of 0.5% to public spending will bring an end to austerity.
Despite actively campaigning against Scottish Labour on the doorsteps across Scotland, Sturgeon was clear in her desire to see Ed Miliband become Prime Minister. Her party will support a raft of Labour tax proposals including the mansion tax and bankers’ bonus tax as well as a reduction in university tuitions fees in England.
The SNP will also back any proposal to reverse the privatisation of NHS services, despite the health service being fully devolved to the Scottish Parliament. This, said Sturgeon, is because these spending decisions have an impact on Scotland through the Barnett formula.
The First Minister refused to rule out the prospect of another independence referendum during the TV debates, however the language in the manifesto has changed significantly from previous years. The focus is very much on pursuing full fiscal autonomy for Scotland rather than separation. Of course it would be difficult to seek to become part of the UK establishment while at the same time hoping to extricate Scotland from the Union. Instead they will use the strength of their position to ensure that the Smith Commission proposals are delivered and that Holyrood is given the promised powers swiftly and in time full responsibility for all Scotland’s finances should be given to the Scottish Parliament, said Sturgeon.
The removal of Trident continues to be a line in the sand for a formal Labour/SNP coalition but it is clear from the language of today’s SNP manifesto launch that they will support the Labour party on almost everything else. Nicola Sturgeon says the SNP will always put the interests of Scotland first but her party are offering a ‘genuine hand of friendship’ to people across the UK and that with Scotland having a stronger voice at Westminster that everyone across the UK will benefit from ‘new, better and more progressive politics.’