MORE than 190,000 Scots who backed independence in last year’s referendum but did not vote SNP at the last general election are key to the outcome of May’s ballot, Jim Murphy will claim today.
The Scottish Labour leader will launch his bid to overturn the SNP’s lead in the polls by reaching out to Yes voters, aiming to dash Nationalist hopes of holding the balance of power at Westminster following the UK election.
In a major speech in Edinburgh, Mr Murphy will tell business and civic leaders his party will send out almost 200,000 letters to Yes voters who backed Labour in the 2010 general election, identified through his party’s database system.
Mr Murphy will say: “There are a group of voters who will be decisive in deciding whether the Tories are re-elected or whether they are kicked out.
“Nearly 200,000 Yes voters who voted Labour at the last general election but who stayed at home at the Scottish Parliamentary elections. They voted Yes, largely because they wanted rid of the Tories and wanted change.
“Now they can decide whether to vote Labour to get rid of the Tories or to vote SNP and keep the status quo.
“At the general election these will be the most important voters in the UK. They will decide whether to hand David Cameron his P45.”
A Panelbase poll in December showed 35 per cent of Scottish voters backed a coalition between Labour and the SNP at Westminster and only 19 per cent wanted a majority Labour government.
Ahead of today’s speech, opponents claimed Mr Murphy had been “completely undermined” by his deputy Kezia Dugdale, who said yesterday that she would “have no qualms” about working with the SNP if a post-election deal was required.
Ms Dugdale said: “I think what we are setting out to do is to be the largest party, I have no qualms whatsoever about working with the SNP.”
SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie MP said: “This reinforces the SNP case that there is no need to vote Labour in Scotland to get rid of the Tories.
“The polls show that by far the most popular general election outcome among people in Scotland is the SNP holding the balance of power to a minority Labour government – including nearly a quarter of people who voted Labour in 2011 – and it seems that Labour’s deputy leader in Scotland agrees.”
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Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson claimed that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Labour leader Ed Miliband were “already halfway down the aisle” in creating a partnership at Westminster.
She began her election campaign by claiming a pact between Labour and the SNP at Westminster could result in Britain being “run into the ground”.
Ms Sturgeon has already ruled out supporting the Conservatives if they fail to win a majority, but has suggested her party could do a deal with Labour, if it meets key demands.
In a letter to Conservative supporters, Ms Davidson said the First Minister was “talking up an electoral pact between Labour and the SNP, with Alex Salmond heading back to London to seal the deal”.
Ms Davidson, whose party has just one MP in Scotland, said: “The election is another four months off, and yet Nicola Sturgeon and Ed Miliband are already halfway down the aisle.
“Think what it would mean – a weak Ed Miliband as prime minister with the SNP pulling the strings. Just when families and businesses need some security, the Nationalists would plunge us back into an uncertain world.”
She insisted: “I don’t want to see Britain being run into the ground by a Labour-SNP pact.
“The Conservatives are the only option in Scotland if you want to keep Ed Miliband out of Downing Street.”
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