The SNP is on the verge of “making history” by winning more Scottish seats at Westminster than any of the other parties, its campaign director said.
Angus Robertson predicted that when voters across the UK go to the polls in May the “SNP can become the largest party in the Westminster elections in Scotland”.
He spoke out at the start of the SNP’s campaign conference in Glasgow, which has attracted a record 3,000 activists, according the party bosses.
While the nationalists failed to win independence in last year’s referendum, the party has seen a massive surge in support, and now has 100,000 members, making it the third biggest political party in the UK.
Its best result in a general election was more than three decades ago, when 11 SNP MPs were elected in October 1974.
Mr Robertson, the SNP Westminster leader, said: “We can make history in this Westminster election. I believe with hard work and with the positive SNP vision - we can win this election.”
He told party activists: “We take nothing for granted - but we know what is possible. Let’s make it happen.”
Polls are predicting Nicola Sturgeon’s party could wins dozens of seats north of the border on May 7, and may hold the balance of power in a hung parliament
Mr Robertson said: “The best ever SNP Westminster result was 30% of the vote when the SNP won 11 seats in 1974. I believe this year we can do better. I believe we will do better.”
But he stressed that the result was “not certain”.
He added: “The polls suggest it may well happen. Those of us that are knocking on doors, we know that it can happen, but we will not take anything for granted. And we will work every hour of every day until the polls close in that general election to secure an SNP victory across the length and breadth of Scotland.”
Mr Robertson continued: “Of course the Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy says his party will not lose a single seat and the Liberal Democrats say they will resist gravity and hope the people of Scotland will forget them cozying up to the Tories. I’ve got news for them as well, they are going to lose seats just like the Labour Party right across Scotland.
“We are going into this election in the strongest pre-election phase of support in the party’s history, with our 100,000 members making us the third largest political party in the UK and this is the biggest SNP conference yet with 3,000 delegates here.”
He said that more seats for the SNP would bring about “more influence and power for the people of Scotland”
He pledged: “We will play a constructive role in Westminster and bring our ideas forward in a positive spirit. We will offer a real alternative to the drab Tory-Labour cuts consensus. It is time for a more responsible economic policy. One which boosts long term growth, creates jobs and delivers all.
“We will invest in childcare and vital public services, we will not waste a £100 billion on a new generation of Trident nuclear weapons. We will make sure Scotland’s NHS is always cared for, its budget protected and its future secure in public hands. And we will keep Westminster parties to their promise of more powers for Scotland.
“It is good ideas and hard work that win elections - not opinion polls. So hard graft, humility and a daily determination to earn the trust of the people of Scotland, these will be the hallmarks of the SNP campaign. We take nothing for granted and will work harder over these next 40 days than we have ever done before.”
A spokesman for Scottish Labour said: “Despite what the First Minister claims, Nicola Sturgeon’s real message to the people of England and Wales is to vote against Labour. She is the head of an anti-Labour coalition across the UK.
“People throughout the UK can work together to replace this rotten Tory administration with a Labour Government that will deliver the radical change Scotland needs.
“The way to get a Labour Government that will ban exploitative zero hours contracts, increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour and use the bankers’ bonus tax to get young Scots into work is to vote Labour.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat party president Malcolm Bruce MP said: “The SNP’s offer of friendship comes with a £180 billion price tag which threatens to wreck the economic recovery across the UK. Their reckless borrowing plans put the economy at risk all over again. They haven’t learnt the lessons of the last economic crash.
“While the Tories will cut public services and welfare too much and unnecessarily, the SNP, even more than Labour, will borrow too much and that will threaten the recovery. That will make it impossible to maintain the long term funding of public services.
“Only the Liberal Democrats have a clear and affordable plan to create a stronger economy and fairer society for Scotland where we will balance the books by 2018 and invest an extra £800 million in the Scottish NHS.”
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