NICOLA Sturgeon says her predecessor Alex Salmond is “frightening the lives” out of the Tories and Labour over the prospect of his return to Westminster.
And she backed her mentor’s re-emergence from the shadows in recent days to set out the possible terms of post-election deal with Labour, in the face of suggestions that she is being undermined.
Ms Sturgeon came under fire over the issue from Labour and Conservative opponents in Holyrood yesterday.
Tory leader Ruth Davidson said: “We have the ‘not First Minister’, not in the chamber, swanning around the television studios of London telling anyone who listens how he will be running the whole of the UK, making statements over tax, statements over welfare, over defence and over spending.
“And the current First Minister standing here is unable to say how she would fund Scotland’s public services.
“When will the SNP branch office rein in its foreign office?”
Mr Salmond reportedly said in an interview over lunch that the SNP could block a minority Tory government by voting down its Queen’s Speech if it held the post-election balance of power. He said the move could bring down the government if Labour joined in, with David Cameron “locked out”. The Conservatives accused the former SNP leader of “trying to sabotage the democratic will of the British people”.
It prompted a Tory advertising campaign where he was depicted as a puppet master with Labour leader Ed Miliband as the puppet.
Scottish Labour deputy leader Kezia Dugdale said: “It seems that if you want a straight answer from the SNP who’ve got to take Alex Salmond out to lunch.”
But Ms Sturgeon hit back: “It’s clear my predecessor as First Minister is frightening the life out of the Tories and the Labour Party – long may it continue.”
Mr Salmond, bidding to become a Westminster MP at the election, has claimed his party could “hold the power” in a hung parliament and would be able to influence the Budget of a minority Labour government.
The SNP has six MPs, but a poll by ICM put the party on 47 per cent across Scotland, with Labour trailing behind on 27 per cent. This could see the Nationalists take anywhere between 40-50 seats or even more in the election in Scotland.
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