General Election 2015: Nicola Sturgeon to use TV debates to deliver 'progressive alliance' against austerity

In the seven-party debate, the SNP leader will make direct attacks on the nationalists’ main opponents in Scotland, the Labour Party

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Nicola Sturgeon will use her party’s first appearance in a UK-wide televised debate to insist the SNP can help deliver a “progressive alliance” that will end the “austerity” politics of the main Westminster parties.

In the seven-party debate, the SNP leader will make direct attacks on the nationalists’ main opponents in Scotland, the Labour Party. In the brief time allocated to each leader, she will concentrate on portraying Labour under Ed Miliband “as the party who campaigned and worked hand-in-glove alongside the Tories in last year’s referendum”. She will call the Labour-Conservative dominance of Westminster a “dismal contest” over “who can cut the most”  that can be broken on May 7.

The televised combat may prove easier for Ms Sturgeon than the other leaders, who have multiple targets to hit.

The SNP had been consulting lawyers, as it did in 2010, to force its leader into the debate. The intervention by the prime minister, which saw the debate widened to include the Greens, UKIP and both the Welsh and Scottish nationalists, has meant Ms Sturgeon undergoing what one party insider called “intensive preparation for battle”.

The Scottish leaders’ debate televised by the BBC from Aberdeen next week, is not being seen by the SNP as its main show-case. A senior party adviser said “There is pressure to deliver on both stages. Hopefully we will see what she is capable of on Thursday night.”

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