General Election 2015: What would a Labour - SNP coalition look like?

Which policies do the two parties agree and disagree on?

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Indy Politics

With all the polls suggesting that the May general election will finish inconclusive, one possible outcome is a minority Labour government in coalition with the SNP, who are expected to win the majority of Scotland’s seats. The SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, has described this as Scotland’s “preferred outcome”. But how much could the two parties see eye to eye, and where do they disagree?

Independence for Scotland

This is the big problem, on which the two parties can never agree. The best they could manage is a compromise that increases the power of the Scottish Parliament, leaving the SNP dissatisfied.

Membership of the EU

Labour and the SNP are both in favour of continued EU membership (although the SNP wants Scotland to join as a separate member). No disagreement there.

Military intervention

The SNP opposed the Iraq war when Labour – though not Ed Miliband – backed it. Both parties opposed the suggestion that they intervene in the Syrian civil war in 2013. In the unlikely event that Ed Miliband, as prime minister proposed military intervention anywhere, he might be opposed by the SNP.



Labour is committed to renewing it, the SNP says abolish it, or at least get it out of Scotland. That is something on which they would have to disagree.


Both Labour and the SNP think that George Osborne has gone too far in cutting public spending, but do not agree on how far. Nicola Sturgeon has accused Labour of being part of a “cosy consensus” and has called for a higher level of public spending than Ed Balls is proposing, but they could probably find a compromise.

Youth unemployment

The SNP had promised to 125,000 modern apprenticeships within five years, while Labour promises that all 18 to 24-year-olds who have been out of work for a year will be offered a taxpayer-funded job for six months, with those who refuse losing benefits. The approaches are different but there is underlying agreement.


The SNP is even keener on keeping the health service free than Labour is. They have abolished prescription charges in Scotland, and have accused Labour of wanting to reintroduce them. This would not cause problems at national level, but it is a matter for the Scottish Parliament.

Green energy

Both parties are keen on extending offshore wind power generation off Scotland’s coast, so no problem there.


Labour’s Yvette Cooper has promised “more police on the streets”. The SNP has promised “an additional 1,000 police officers on Scotland’s streets”. No disagreement there.

Rail links

The SNP is keen on electrification, and particularly on shorter rail journeys between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Labour’s Jim Murphy has similarly called for Glasgow and Edinburgh to be “twin power houses” – so no major disagreement there.