Sturgeon ratchets up pressure on Labour to do deal

NICOLA Sturgeon has told Labour leader Ed Miliband he will have to strike a deal with the SNP after a new poll suggested the Nationalists are poised to win every one of Scotland’s 59 seats.

Nicola Sturgeon delivers a speech marking the start of the final week of campaigning. Picture: Getty
Nicola Sturgeon delivers a speech marking the start of the final week of campaigning. Picture: Getty

The First Minister made her demand buoyed by an unprecedented survey that put her party on 54 per cent and saw Labour’s share of the vote plummet by four points to just 20 per cent. Using the Ipsos Mori figures, the Electoral Calculus website predicts the SNP would take all the constituencies in the country.

Welcoming the poll, which she said made “wonderful reading for the SNP”, Ms Sturgeon promised an overhaul of the “old politics” of Westminster.

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A day after shadow chancellor Ed Balls told The Scotsman any deal between ­Labour and the SNP was “inconceivable”, she said Labour would need to reconsider its position.

Jim Murphy on the dance floor yesterday at the Donald Dewar Day Centre in Glasgow. Picture: PA

Ms Sturgeon said: “Labour will have to change their tune if the voters, as all the polls suggest they will, deliver a parliament of minorities, with no one party having an overall majority”.

However, later Ms Sturgeon urged SNP ­supporters not to take the polls for granted.

She tweeted: “Forget polls – only votes win elections. The more seats the SNP win, the stronger Scotland will be. Let’s keep working hard.”

SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie added: “This record poll shows that our positive campaign to make Scotland stronger at Westminster by electing a team of SNP MPs is gaining momentum, but we are working hard for every vote because we take absolutely nothing for granted.

“More anti-Tory MPs than Tory MPs in the House of Commons means that we can lock David Cameron out of Downing Street – so voting SNP delivers a strong voice for Scotland and progressive policies for the whole UK.”

In the wake of yesterday’s poll, Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy fielded questions over whether he will stay at the head of the party north of the Border if there is an SNP wipeout, which would include him ­losing his East Renfrewshire seat. He warned that SNP success will hand the keys of Downing Street back to Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Murphy said: “This is another bad poll for the Scottish Labour party, it’s another good poll of course for the SNP, and it’s another fantastic poll for David Cameron.

“David Cameron can’t beat the Labour party here in Scotland, so someone else has to do it for him.

“That way David Cameron gets to cling on to power because he’s the leader of the biggest party, the likelihood is David Cameron will remain Prime Minister, not because Scotland went out and voted for the Tory party but because Scotland voted against Labour for the SNP and reduced the chances of Labour forming the government.”

However, he added: “There’s much still to play for in this election. A week’s a long time in politics and we’ll keep going with a huge amount of energy and a determination to turn much of this round.”

One west of Scotland Labour MP in a previously safe seat told The Scotsman his chances “are finished”. However, another in the east of Scotland said: “If this poll is true then either voters are lying to us on a massive scale or there will be a turnout off the scale.”

Meanwhile, a leading Scottish Conservative accused Mr Cameron of being “chief cheerleader” for the SNP surge and blamed the Tory strategy in part for the rise in Nationalist support.

Former Scottish Conservatives head of communications Andy Maciver said: “Privately, leading Scottish Tories are livid at the Carlisle Principle, Theresa May’s ‘abdication’ intervention and the rest of the rhetoric of the last week. They have spent years defending their own patriotism; fighting back against 30 years of SNP assertion that the evil Tories are anti-Scottish.

“There is mouth-foaming anger amongst those to whom I have spoken. If the SNP could create the Tory campaign, according to my erstwhile colleagues, they would have created the one we have seen for the last week. It has legitimised the left-wing paranoia which is feeding the army of monkeys required by the SNP’s organ grinders.”

Liberal Democrat candidate Christine Jardine, who is hoping to beat Alex Salmond in the Gordon constituency, said that it was “still close” between her and the former first minister. She added: “This poll is not reflected on the doorstep.”

Ms Sturgeon gave a speech in Glasgow laying out her plans for a “revolution” in Westminster.

She said the election of a large bloc of SNP MPs next week would lead to a shift in power from the “corridors of Westminster to the communities of Scotland”.

The First Minister said her party would “end the metaphorical wielding of swords” at Westminster and make it “better” for voters in all parts of the UK.

Ms Sturgeon insisted that next week’s ballot was “emphatically not about independence”, but said the legacy of the vote was one of “empowerment”, despite 55 per cent of the electorate voting to remain in the UK.

She said: “The referendum last year was, of course, a disappointment to those of us who voted Yes – but the positive legacy of that campaign is one of empowerment.

“It showed us that Scotland doesn’t need to be powerless in the face of remote Westminster decisions.

“We can – if we so choose – make Westminster sit up and take notice.”

Yesterday’s survey also saw a sharp rise for the Scottish Conservatives, by five points to 17 per cent. Ipsos Mori questioned 1,071 people between 22 and 27 April on how they would vote if there were a Westminster general election tomorrow.

The survey followed another strong showing earlier in the week with a TNS poll also giving the SNP 54 per cent.