Ed Miliband slaps down Alex Salmond’s budget claim

Labour leader Ed Miliband addresses the party faithful at Clydebank Town Hall. Picture: Hemedia
Labour leader Ed Miliband addresses the party faithful at Clydebank Town Hall. Picture: Hemedia
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ED MILIBAND has insisted that the SNP will not hold sway over a minority Labour government after the election.

He warned during a trip to Scotland yesterday that Alex Salmond would not be writing a Labour Budget in “a million years”.

Alex Salmond claimed the SNP could hold sway over a minority Labour government. Picture: John Devlin

Alex Salmond claimed the SNP could hold sway over a minority Labour government. Picture: John Devlin

It came as a fresh poll indicated that Labour is still facing the prospect of widespread losses in Scotland in May. The party is stuck on 27 per cent support, according to ICM, with the Nationalists on 43 per cent. It could see Labour lose 29 of its 41 seats in Scotland.

Mr Miliband said the Tories and SNP were now in an “unholy alliance” to keep David Cameron in power, after Mr Salmond suggested at the weekend that a strong SNP contingent of MPs would hold the balance of power at Westminster.

“Alex Salmond is at it again,” Mr Miliband said. “It’s a combination of bluster and bluff – I gather he’s got a book to sell.

“I’ll tell you who’s going to be writing a Labour Budget – me and Ed Balls.

“I’ll tell you who’s going to be writing a Labour budget - me and Ed Balls. It’s not going to be Alex Salmond - not in a million years”

Ed Miliband

“It’s not going to be Alex Salmond – not in a million years.”

The Tories and Labour are still neck and neck with just a month and a half until the election,pa and neither party looks capable of forming a majority administration.

Mr Miliband has already ruled out a formal coalition with the SNP, and yesterday’s comments appeared to play down the prospect of a less formal “confidence and supply” arrangement.

“How other parties decide to vote on the basis of a Labour Queen’s speech is going to be up to them, but I want a majority Labour government,” Mr Miliband said. “And, look, with the greatest of respect, we will let Alex Salmond try to sell his book, but what we are going to try and do is show the people of Scotland what the choice is at the general election.”

He warned Scots voters against treating it like a repeat of last year’s referendum campaign.

“It’s incredibly important that people see that the referendum was last year – the election is this year.”

The latest ICM poll would see the SNP leap from its current six MPs to take 43 of Scotland’s 59 seats. Labour would lose 29 of the 41 Scottish seats it took in 2010 and be left with just 12 MPs. This would make it difficult for the party to take power without the support of the SNP.

But despite Labour’s dismal poll ratings, Mr Miliband insisted his party could still win.

“You know, you don’t blow the whistle on the match before the game is over and I am not going to do that, because there is six and half weeks for people to make up their minds. We shouldn’t be so presumptuous to decide the outcome of the election before the election has happened. I believe I can win a majority Labour government.”

Mr Miliband said Labour would deliver the change Scotland needed, calling for a “fundamental break” from the coalition government’s “deadly cocktail of extreme spending cuts and unfair taxes”.

He attacked SNP plans for full fiscal autonomy, which he said would extend Tory austerity north of the Border. “That means the SNP fight this election still proposing to end the sharing of resources across the UK, the principle of redistribution,” he said.

Meanwhile Mr Salmond yesterday called for the Treasury’s top civil servant to resign after a report by MPs said his “perceived impartiality” had been compromised during the run-up to the independence referendum.

The Commons public administration select committee criticised the publication of advice Sir Nicholas Macpherson gave Chancellor George Osborne that a currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK would be “fraught with difficulty”.

The letter from Sir Nicholas, the permanent secretary to the Treasury, was only made public “because it suited ministers’ political objectives in respect of the Scottish referendum”, the committee said.

They also said the Scottish Government’s independence white paper had “raised questions about the use of public money for partisan purposes”, as part of the 670-page long blueprint set out SNP pledges ahead of the 2016 Holyrood election.

The MPs said the Scotland’s Future document had “included a description of the SNP’s proposed programme for government that was contingent upon their winning the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections”.

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