After extensive Tory efforts to force the Labour leader on the issue, Ed Miliband has today ruled out a formal coalition with the SNP.
Following concerns raised that a government could be formed with a party committed to the break-up of the United Kingdom, Miliband said: “Labour will not go into coalition government with the SNP. There will be no SNP ministers in any government I lead.”
He accused Cameron and the Conservative Party of trying to “scare” people, and said that the Tories, “the party that haven’t won a majority for over 20 years, are now running a misleading campaign based on the idea of a Labour-SNP coalition. As I said on Thursday night, this idea is nonsense.”
He failed, however, to rule out any more informal deal, and took the opportunity to lambast the Conservatives’ meagre electoral performance in Scotland, saying: “This episode also proves something else about David Cameron: he leads a Conservative party that has given up on the Scottish people; a Conservative party that now simply wants to use Scotland as a political device; a Conservative party that does not even try and pretend it can represent the whole country.
“A Conservative party that has given up on winning a majority. And the real threat to working families across our country lies in the Conservative party being in government.”
There has been no news yet of SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s response to Miliband’s speech. However, in a recent speech at the London School of Economics, she said: “I can’t for the life of me see why Labour wouldn’t want to contemplate working with the SNP to keep the Tories out of office. As long as there are more SNP and Labour MPs than there are Tory MPs we can lock the Tories out of government. There is no question about that.”
Sturgeon stated that her priority was to “see SNP MPs being in the House of Commons at Westminster arguing for and pushing for progressive change”. She added: “I also don’t want to see David Cameron re-elected.”
However, voters would do well to take Miliband’s statements with a pinch of salt. Prior to the General Election in 2010, the Telegraph reported that David Cameron was preparing to “go it alone” in the event of a hung parliament and form a minority government. At the time, a shadow cabinet minister said: “We don’t need a formal coalition deal if the unionists are on board for the key pieces of legislation.”