Labour rebuffs SNP’s higher minimum wage demand

ED Miliband’s office has dismissed the SNP’s demand to have a higher minimum wage as part of a deal with Labour as “Westminster games” and said he will “not negotiate” on any issue.

Labour leader Ed Miliband at the launch of his party's business 'mini-manifesto'. Picture: PA
Labour leader Ed Miliband at the launch of his party's business 'mini-manifesto'. Picture: PA
Labour leader Ed Miliband at the launch of his party's business 'mini-manifesto'. Picture: PA

The comments were a response to the SNP’s list of demands which included a minimum wage of £8.70 by 2020, outdoing the Labour pledge of £8.

But it came as Labour peer Baroness Prosser has urged her party to say it is willing to deal with the Nationalists “on a pragmatic basis”.

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On the Politics Show, she pointed out: “Over the last five years, we have worked in the House of Lords to get a majority for things we want with whoever would work with us .

“So on an issue-by-issue basis I am pretty certain that is likely to happen.”

Pressed on whether agreements could be reached with the SNP on an issue-by-issue basis, she added: “Well, I think that is just how pragmatic politics works.”

The continued speculation over a Labour/SNP deal saw Tory London mayor Boris Johnson warn that a Labour government would be the dog “wagged by a Scottish SNP tail”.

He wrote: “The Scots Nats want to end and reverse all benefit reforms, even though these are supported by the New Labour faction in Miliband’s party, and by the overwhelming majority of the British public.

“The SNP positively drool about the swingeing new taxes they could impose on the English, especially in London and the South East. They also want to scrap Trident – in defiance of most experienced and serious Labour MPs.”

In what might be music to SNP ears, he predicted five years of socialism if the Nationalists hold the balance of power.

And he warned that Labour and the SNP “are locked in a deadly embrace, and the risk is that they will take the rest of us down with them”.

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However, during the launch of Labour’s business manifesto in the City of London, a spokesman for Mr Miliband rejected the list of demands made by the SNP for a deal in Westminster, including a more ambitious minimum wage.

Mr Miliband’s spokesman said: “We have set out our own policy with the minimum wage and we are not interested in any negotiations or Westminster games.”

He claimed that the Conservatives “are desperate to focus on what might or might not happen” after the election “because it is the only way they can be the largest party” but “voters will make their choice before”.

He went on: “We are not interested in talking about other parties’ programmes or some sort of Conservative Party invention where we are involved in some kind of negotiation. We are not, full stop.”

However, SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie insisted Labour would have to deal with his party. He said: “Margaret Prosser’s comments suggest that Labour are planning for an election result in which the SNP will hold the balance of power in the next parliament.

“Left to their own devices, Labour would continue the cuts hitting vulnerable people.”