CHIEF WHIP Michael Gove has predicted the Tories will win more seats than Labour in Scotland in the General Election as Conservative activists posed in SNP T-shirts and Nicola Surgeon masks in the shadow of the Houses of Parliament.
The former education secretary denied the event was a negative campaigning stunt, but refused to be photographed with the 50 or so strong group on the grounds that it would dilute the message.
He said: “This is not a negative stunt. This is a vivid, visual metaphor of the chaos that would ensue if we have a weak prime minister at the head of a minority Labour government held hostage by the SNP.”
Insisting the Conservatives would do better than the Opposition, Mr Gove declined to say which seats his party would win, adding: “It would be wrong of me to alert the SNP, the Liberal Democrats and Labour to our highly effective ground operation.
“I won’t predict anything more, other than to say if people follow their hearts and vote Conservative in Scotland, as in the rest of the UK, we can pick up and win seats from every other party.”
He was also asked how the Tories could trust the Liberal Democrats again after Danny Alexander’s decision to reveal proposals discussed under the coalition for £8 billion cuts to child benefit, which he suggested gave an indication of Tory plans after the May 7.
... if people follow their hearts and vote Conservative in Scotland, as in the rest of the UK, we can pick up and win seats from every other partyMichael Gove
Mr Gove replied: “I don’t think it took yesterday’s leak ... to make us aware of what the Liberal Democrats are really like, but we are prepared always to put aside any concerns about Liberal Democrat behaviour to work with them in the national interest.
“But we don’t need to worry about that if we do get what I believe we will get, which is a majority Conservative government.”
In contrast, he categorically ruled out a deal with either Ukip or the SNP.
Asked if David Cameron had been pulled to the right during his premiership on issues such as immigration or if his views had shifted, he replied: “Absolutely not.”
He insisted the Prime Minister had remained “absolutely plum at the heart of where the British public are”.
At the event, gatecrashed by the leader of the Monster Raving Loony Party - Howling Laud Hope, the Conservatives issued a “memo” from Ms Sturgeon to Ed Miliband, drafted from lines in the SNP manifesto and an HM Treasury opposition policy costing from March.
It begins: “We’ve always said, if you hold the balance, then you hold the power. And today, we hold the power. It’s simply not possible to ignore the views of other parties. You will have to change your tune.
“Given you have ruled out a formal coalition and a confidence and supply agreement, we will obviously need to play things on a vote by vote basis.
“We are prepared to work with Labour, but that will come at a price.”
It then lays out a series of demands - an increase in public spending, £148 billion of additional borrowing, a rise in welfare spending enabled by the scrapping of the benefit cap and the halting of the roll-out of Universal Credit, and an increase in taxes.
It adds: “For the avoidance of doubt, there is no circumstance in which SNP MPs will support the renewal of Trident.
“We will vote on nominally ‘English’ matters at each and every opportunity when Scotland’s national and economic interests are directly affected.
“Alex and I look forward to discussing this with you later ... we hope it will help you wake up and smell the coffee.”
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