Ed Miliband refuses to rule out pact with SNP

Labour leader Ed Miliband. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Labour leader Ed Miliband. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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ED MILIBAND failed to rule out the prospect of a post-election deal with the SNP as he used his speech to Scottish Labour’s conference to appeal to Scots to “boot out” the Conservatives.

Miliband barely mentioned the SNP in his speech in Edinburgh yesterday, which came at the end of a week in which Scottish Labour MPs called on the leadership to rule out a pact with the nationalists in the event of a hung parliament.

He devoted the bulk of his speech to warn that the “biggest risk” of a Tory win would be created by voting against Labour, as he said the Scottish electorate would play a critical role on 7 May and “help decide this election”.

With support for the nationalists surging in the wake of the independence referendum, Miliband told voters north of the Border that backing any party other than Labour would lead to five more years of Tory rule at Westminster.

Opinion polls predict ­Lab­our could lose swathes of seats in its Scottish heartlands to the SNP, leading Miliband to warn: “Every vote cast for another party, including the SNP, makes that prospect of a Tory government more likely.”

He said: “If you want to see the end of the Tory government, the only way to make it happen is to vote Labour on 7 May.

“The biggest risk of Scotland getting the government it didn’t vote for is to believe you can get a Labour government while voting for somebody else.

“The way to get rid of the

Tories and get a Labour government is to vote Labour.

“It is the people of Scotland who can help boot out this Tory government.”

Miliband sought to portray May’s election as a battle be­ t­ween Labour and the Conservatives.

Although only last week shadow ­foreign secretary and election chief Douglas Alexander was told at a meeting of 30 of the 41 Scottish Labour MPs that Miliband must rule out a pact with the SNP, the Labour leader made no mention of this in his keynote speech.

He merely emphasised that heavy losses by his party to the nationalists could lead to a Conservative victory on 7 May.

“It is just a matter of arithmetic,” he said. “Because every one less Labour MP makes it more likely the Tories will be the largest party.”

With the election expected to be the “closest for a generation” the Labour leader said voters in Scotland would play a crucial part in deciding the next government.

Miliband, who was addressing a special one-day Scottish Labour conference, declared: “It is the people of Scotland who will help decide this ­election.

“Together, with working people across the UK, we can give David Cameron his marching orders.”

He continued: “I am asking people here in Scotland to vote Labour to get rid of the Tories and their failed austerity plan.

“But I have a bigger reason. I am asking people here in Scotland to vote Labour for a society and economy founded on different values.”

Miliband warned: “The Tor­ies could wreak havoc in Scotland without winning a majority. They could do it by being in government as the largest party.

“It is a nightmare on Downing Street.”

SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie, hitting back at Miliband, said: “It is time Labour faced reality – they are not going to win a majority in the House of Commons, and will need the votes of others to govern.”

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