General Election 2015: Conservatives mock Salmond-Miliband alliance as Labour claim Tories will cut 'NHS to the bone'

The Tories are really keen to scare people about a Labour-SNP alliance

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Indy Politics

If the electoral tactics of the two major political parties were not clear enough already, the opening adverts and posters have rammed home the message: the Conservatives want to focus on the threat of an Ed Miliband-Alex Salmond alliance, while Labour will emphasise that they are the only ones to be trusted with the NHS.

The Conservatives launched a new advert this weekend showing a sinister-looking cartoon Salmond catching a train from Aberdeen down to London, where they claim the SNP leader will be able to "call the tune" of Mr Miliband. The cartoon advert has the feel of a mafia version of Mad Men, albeit with the comical closing scene of the Labour leader doing a jig while Mr Salmond plays the fiddle.

Mr Miliband, whose party is expected to lose many seats in Scotland as the SNP make huge gains north of the border, has already said that Labour would not form a coalition with the SNP. Yet the Tories still feel it is a strong message to use in order to win votes in England.

On Sunday, Mr Salmond aided the Conservatives' latest advert when he suggested that the SNP would extract a high price if Mr Miliband could only enter Downing Street with SNP support.

"If you hold the balance, then you hold the power," he said. "Hopefully that decisive block of SNP MPs will move the Labour Party in a different direction." Defence Minister Anna Soubry called Mr Salmond's comments "terrifying".

With the election looking increasingly like delivering a hung Parliament once more, the Tories are evidently keen to show that a Labour-SNP coalition would be disastrous, thus hopefully emphasising the relative calm of the current Conservative-Lib Dem alliance.

Last week in Yorkshire, Mr Miliband said his party would not go into coalition with the SNP and that they would be no SNP ministers in any government that he would lead. He said the Tories were trying to "mislead" the public with "nonsense", adding, "I'm not going to spend the next eight weeks speculating about what might or might not happen after the polls have closed. It is vital we spend the next eight weeks debating the real choice facing the British people in this election: a choice between a better future for Britain with a Labour government or the failing plan of this Conservative government."

With Mr Miliband tiring of addressing Labour-SNP concerns, last week the party unveiled its first election poster that focused on the theme they think can win them a majority: the NHS.

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The poster shows an X-ray of a skeleton with the words: "Next time, they’ll cut to the bone…..The NHS can’t afford the Tory cuts plan."

Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, criticised Mr Osborne’s planned spending cuts, announced in Wednesday's budget, saying they would eventually hit the beloved NHS.

"The cuts to public services like police, defence and social  care would be so deep they’d be almost impossible to achieve,” said Mr Balls. “People will conclude that to make their sums add up, the Tories will end up cutting the NHS.”

In Osborne's budget speech, he only mentioned the NHS once, in the sentence, "And because savings have been driven by efficiency and reform, the quality of public services has not gone down – it’s gone up. Satisfaction with the NHS is rising year on year."

However, Labour's poster was criticised by a spokeswoman for the British Medical Association (BMA, who said that the party was politicising the NHS. “What the NHS really needs is for politicians to stop using it as a political football.  The BMA is calling for an end to political game playing with the NHS, and for politicians of all parties to focus on providing a long-term solution to the crisis facing our health service.”

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