SNP’s dodgy maths reveals what they really want: another Tory government

Scots can continue to protest against the Tories by voting for any other party, but this isn’t a protest vote

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The Independent Online

Don’t believe the SNP con-trick. It doesn’t want a coalition with Labour after 7 May. It wants another Tory government.

In less than 100 days the people of Scotland face a monumental choice. They can send the Tories a message or they can send them packing. They can wake up and see David Cameron re-enter Downing Street or they can hand him his P45.

Scots can continue to protest against the Tories by voting for any other party, but this isn't a protest vote. It's choosing who will govern us for the next five years.

The opinion polls tell us that this could be the closest election for a long time. That means every vote and every MP will count.

The Nationalists tell us that means they can hold the balance of power. What they described in 2010 as "hanging Westminster with an SNP rope". What they meant then, and what they mean now is stopping a majority Labour Government and risking a Tory one. A price worth paying for their never-ending pursuit of independence. For them every Tory pain seen as an independence gain.

But everyone knows that the party with most MPs will claim the mandate to form the government. The Nationalists did the same after the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections when they returned just one MSP more than Scottish Labour.

It's also an obvious truth that every seat Labour loses makes it harder to be the largest party. The electoral reality is that only Labour is big enough and strong enough to defeat  Cameron and form an alternative government.

A perfect demonstration of the SNP's political acrobatics can be seen by comparing the central message of its referendum campaign to what it says now.

Throughout the referendum campaign, it told us "Vote Yes and we get rid of the Tories forever".  Now it says “Vote SNP” despite the result being a Tory Government.

The parliamentary arithmetic is pretty clear. We know from the declining oil prices that maths isn't really the SNP's strong point. But only it could argue that not having 40 Scottish Labour MPs can help deliver a Labour victory across the UK.

The SNP claimed that staying in the UK meant we would be stuck with Tory governments forever, implying that Labour couldn't win this general election. Well Labour must, and will, demonstrate that we can.

The SNP also claimed during the referendum that "they are all the same", that "there is no difference".

Firstly, that is a lazy argument that should be dismissed outright for its shallowness. But also, the SNP knows that Scots don't believe it.

Why else would the SNP say outright that they wouldn't support a Tory government but would a Labour one? This proves that the decision made on May 7 matters and the result makes a difference to the lives of people in Scotland.

Because Labour winning across the UK means Scots win too.

Labour’s energy price cap means cheaper fuel bills and support when household budgets are being squeezed. A bankers' bonus tax across the UK means a jobs guarantee for thousands of Scotland's young people. Our mansions tax on properties over £2m means 1,000 more nurses for Scotland’s stretched NHS. All policies opposed by the Tories. And, in case you didn't know, by the SNP too.

Workers struggling to make ends meet now, don't need to be told to wait for a referendum at some point in the future and then after it possibly the utopia of independence. What they need is a Labour government that will increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour, incentivise the paying of the Living Wage and ban the use of exploitative zero hour contracts.

So whether Scots voted Yes or No, most of them know it’s time for the Tories to go. Scotland might have been divided during the referendum, but if there is one thing I believe can unite a majority of Scottish voters, it’s the chance to kick the Tories out of Downing Street.

Be in no doubt, the biggest cheers when images show Cameron leaving Downing Street forever will not be coming from SNP HQ, but from Scottish Labour's. If you want a Labour government there's only one way to get one, that's by voting Scottish Labour.

Anas Sarwar is MP for Glasgow Central and a Labour frontbench spokesman on international development

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