Nicola Sturgeon calls for Labour to back NHS pledge

Sturgeon wants Ed Miliband to agree to the "modest" public spending propsed. Picture: John Devlin
Sturgeon wants Ed Miliband to agree to the "modest" public spending propsed. Picture: John Devlin
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LABOUR’S Ed Miliband will today be challenged to “do the right thing” and commit to spending plans which could release £24 billion extra for the National Health Service across the UK.

SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will urge her Labour rival to “step out of the shadow the Tories” and agree to the “modest” public spending increases her party has suggested.

Westminster’s harsh cuts agenda has completely failed.

Nicola Sturgeon

Mr Miliband will be on the campaign trail in Scotland, where polls suggest his party could lose dozens of seats to the nationalists, damaging his chances of ousting David Cameron from Downing Street.

The Labour leader will use his visit north to attack the SNP over its support for making Holyrood responsible for raising all the cash it spends, claiming this would leave the country with a £7.6 billion gap in its finances.

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But at the same time Ms Sturgeon will call on the Labour leader to back her party’s spending proposals, which she said would boost NHS spending across the UK by £24 billion by 2020 - with the health service in Scotland receiving £2 billion of this.

The SNP leader has already set out plans to raise public spending across the UK by £180 billion over the term of the next parliament, arguing this is a “real alternative” to austerity.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Westminster’s harsh cuts agenda has completely failed and Tory NHS privatisation and cuts is putting the health service south of the border at risk, threatening to harm Scotland’s budget in the process.

“I have outlined plans for a modest spending increase at Westminster - which will not only bring an end to the failed austerity agenda, but will enable us to increase spending on Scotland’s NHS by a total of £2 billion by 2020.”

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She added: “This is a clear example of the progressive politics a strong team of SNP MPs will stand for at Westminster. It is time for Labour to step out of the shadow of the Tories and do the right thing for the NHS in Scotland and across the UK.”

The general election campaign north of the border has been dominated by Labour and the SNP, but the Conservatives - who won just one Scottish seat in 2010 - are hoping to improve on that after May 7.

Scotland Office Minister David Mundell together with Scottish leader Ruth Davidson will today raise the issue of poor mobile phone coverage in rural areas.

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Mr Mundell said: “Ruth is joining us in Biggar to meet with local residents and businesses who will benefit from a deal to improve mobile phone coverage in rural areas. We are entitled to the same level of service as people living anywhere else.

“Recently, the UK-Government negotiated a deal with four major mobile networks to deliver an investment programme across the UK, including Scotland. We will be making sure they now deliver.”

He added: “With more people due to receive a phone and text signal and improved data this will be a massive boost for residents and businesses in the south of Scotland.”

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Sir Malcolm Bruce will also be speaking to voters in Scotland today, highlighting his party’s support for policies which have seen the state pension rise by £900 since 2010.

Sir Malcolm, who will team up with North East Fife candidate Tim Brett at a coffee morning in Cupar, Fife, will also challenge the SNP on the impact of full fiscal autonomy.


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