Labour refuses to rule out a coalition with the SNP after general election

Douglas Alexander admitted the opinion polls in Scotland were 'tough' for Labour

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Douglas Alexander, who heads Labour’s general election campaign, has refused to rule out a coalition with the SNP if the May contest ends in another hung parliament.

Mr Alexander admitted the opinion polls in Scotland were “tough” for Labour but said he would not “play that game” after the SNP raised  the prospect of a post-election deal with Labour.

The shadow Foreign Secretary told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "In the coming election in May, the way that we can secure change is not to split the centre left vote but to deliver the maximum number of Labour MPs and, thereby, make sure we have a progressive government not a government led by David Cameron or a government of David Cameron and Nigel Farage."

 

Although Labour officials say there is no chance of a Labour-SNP agreement, Ed Miliband has also stopped short of ruling one out.  Other figures, including Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, are believed to favour a stronger “no deal” statement.

Mr Alexander dismissed the idea that Labour might bow to the SNP’s demand to scrap the Trident nuclear weapons system as part of an agreement. He said: "As a prospective foreign secretary in an incoming Labour government, the responsibility of defending this country is not something that is the subject of simply trading away interests one way or another. Our position on Trident is very clear and I'm not changing it.”

Alex Salmond, the SNP’s former Scottish First Minister, said a formal coalition with Labour would be "unlikely". But he said the Nationalists could help to sustain a minority Labour government on a “vote-by-vote” basis –reaching agreements before key Commons votes.

Asked how the SNP would exploit a hung parliament, he told Sky News the party would ensure promises of further devolution were kept and  press for Trident to be scrapped.

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