The SNP will vote down a future Labour government’s Budget if it holds the balance of power at Westminster, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The SNP leader’s position, revealed just days ahead of Thursday’s general election, was immediately seized upon by her opponents as evidence that a Labour government propped up by Ms Sturgeon’s party would result in “absolute chaos” for the country.
Taking part in a live televised debate in Edinburgh with the leaders of the other three main Scottish parties, Ms Sturgeon said the SNP intended to block Labour's first Budget before negotiating a series of amendments. Polls suggest that the nationalist party is poised to win as many as 50 Westminster seats.
“If Labour puts forward a Budget that imposes more cuts on vulnerable people, as clearly they intend to do, the SNP will vote against it. We will seek to use our clout in the House of Commons to get a fairer deal,” she said.
The First Minister said that such a process would not “bring down the Government”, pointing out that when the SNP minority administration at Holyrood had its Budget voted down in 2009, it made a series of concessions before a new one was passed. “That’s what happens in minority parliaments, and it leads to better decisions,” she added.
But Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy said this was further evidence that the SNP would destabilise the government if it held the balance of power at Westminster, pointing out that it had already threatened to block his party’s Queen’s Speech. “The cat is out of the bag,” he added.
Willie Rennie, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said “absolute chaos” would ensue if Ms Sturgeon’s party found itself in a position of power. “What will the Budget negotiations be like? I think we need stability, security, safety, we need honesty and decency in the next parliament. You will not get that with the SNP – it will be absolutely chaotic,” he said.
Ahead of the live debate, which was hosted by the BBC at Mansfield Traquair in the Scottish capital, the leaders were specifically asked not to talk over one another. But it did not take long for tempers to become frayed as Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson accused Mr Murphy of telling viewers “an outright lie” about benefit sanctions for jobseekers.
In pictures: Experts' predictions for the General Election - 03/05/15
In pictures: Experts' predictions for the General Election - 03/05/15
1/10 Andrew Hawkins (ComRes)
“The sclerotic, negative and risk-averse campaigns from the two main parties make it hard to see how much can alter. So, my prediction is the same – Tories get most votes, but Labour better placed to form a government. Then a long spell of political and perhaps constitutional chaos.”
2/10 Joe Twyman (YouGov)
“‘The world is changed, I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air.’ So begins the film version of Lord of the Rings. – which is, of course, the famous tale of an epic journey culminating in the final battle between good and evil. The world of British politics has certainly changed. “With a few days still to go I expect that more change could still occur, but it is likely to be minor and the national level and more concentrated on the ground in the key marginal constituencies where the Hold Your Nose or Cut It Off to Spite Your Face™ message pushes home. I expect the Conservatives to be the beneficiaries, but it will not be anything like enough to make a difference to the overall result.”
3/10 Ben Page (Ipsos MORI)
“As the only pollster to correctly predict a hung parliament last time – and then foolishly change my prediction when I saw ALL the others were saying a Conservative majority – I am going to say hung parliament again. With more Conservative than Labour seats. The SNP won’t wipe out the Labour Party completely in Scotland but will get them down to single figures. The Lib Dems will out perform their poll numbers and should get circa 26 seats – or more. Ukip will be delighted with four seats at most, probably fewer.”
4/10 Rick Nye (Populus)
“Tories largest party, comfortably.”
5/10 Nick Moon (GfK)
“SNP now 50, Ukip 2; Tories to be largest party in votes and seats, but still a Labour minority government.”
6/10 Damian Lyons Lowe (Survation)
“Conservatives – I’m upgrading my seats prediction to 270-280 from 260-280. Labour – downgrading again to 265-275, based on the SNPs’ continued surge and Conservatives doing better in our seat-voting question as the election draws near and views are localised: SNP 45; Lib Dems 30; Ukip 6; Green 1; Respect 1. Ed Miliband will be the next prime minister.”
7/10 Michelle Harrison (TNS)
“We enter the last few days of this campaign pretty much where we started. This election represents what happens when a country is not confident about its economic future, unsure of its place in the world, and fed up with the state of its politics. “The political stalemate at the centre, and the fragmentation of the traditional party system, has left us with a set of polls incapable of telling what will ultimately happen, when there are so many potential scenarios. What we can feel confident about though is that Thursday will be a seismic night for politics in Scotland. When the votes are counted, we expect the Tories to be the largest party, but that Labour should still have the greatest chance of forming a government. But how do we measure the advantage for the Conservatives of already being in No 10 in the days after the general election? The real drama will start on Friday.”
8/10 James Endersby (Opinium Research)
“We saw some movement to the Tories, but the two big parties are back to being neck and neck with the Conservatives a hair’s breadth ahead. How this translates into seats or a coalition is unclear but based on our numbers we’d put the Conservatives ahead of Labour on vote share but the two parties within 10 seats of each other in the new House of Commons. The maths here gives Ed Miliband more options than David Cameron, so it might be sensible for voters to look up Ramsay MacDonald when trying to make sense of the result!”
9/10 Martin Boon (ICM)
“The Tories appear to have developed a little momentum, which may or may not make any difference. I sense the now traditional herding of pollsters has begun, and the polls will coalesce around a Tory lead of between two and six points. I’ll guess at 36 per cent for the Tories and 32 per cent for Labour. The fight for third place could go either way. Beyond that I just don’t know what will happen and defer to the academics and gamblers when it comes to seat projections, and indeed when it comes to who on earth is going to form our next government. I’d like to apologise to Independent on Sunday readers for fence-sitting, but as I’ve said repeatedly of late: How should I know? I’m only a pollster.”
10/10 Lord Ashcroft (Lord Ashcroft Polls)
He refuses to make predictions. “My polls are snapshots, not predictions.”
The Labour leader had claimed there was a “deliberate policy” at Jobcentres of sanctioning benefit claimants regardless of the lengths they went to for employment. Ms Davidson accused Mr Murphy of “peddling a falsehood that he knows is fictitious”, to which he replied: “How dare you call me a liar?”
Pressed on the issue of whether a second referendum on Scottish independence would be included in the SNP’s manifesto at next year’s Holyrood elections, Ms Sturgeon again refused to answer. “The decision about whether or not there is another referendum at any point in the future is down to the Scottish people, because they would have to vote for that manifesto,” she said.Reuse content