SNP conference: party positions itself to work with Labour

Nicola Sturgeon

With less than six weeks until the general election, the SNP are positioning themselves as a progressive force, with some policies matching Labour’s.

The upcoming general election - in less than forty days time - is one of the most unpredictable ones in recent decades, but there’s one thing we can be certain of: the SNP will make substantial gains in Scotland. Whether or not the party will emerge with almost all of Scotland’s 59 seats is yet to be seen, but the polls clearly indicate that something has changed north of the border, and with the chances of a hung parliament likely the SNP are a force to be watched.

Their conference, held this weekend in Glasgow, shows that the SNP are laying some cards out on the political table, showing where future post-election deals could go.

In good news for Labour, if some sort of SNP-Labour deal emerges from the election, the party is in favour of increasing the 45p top rate of tax up to 50p.

According to the BBC, John Swinney, Scotland’s deputy first minister, said:

“And fairness extends to taxation. This afternoon, our Deputy Leader Stewart Hosie will set out just some of the arguments we will make to deliver fairness at Westminster, some of the policies for which we will argue, including a return of the 50p rate of income tax.”

Under Gordon Brown’s premiership the rate was raised to 50p, but the current coalition government cut the top rate to 45p for those earning over £150,000.

Despite Labour acting determined that they can get an overall majority, if they do end up working with the SNP, this is an area which they will agree upon.

Furthermore, in another move to show that the SNP are trying to be a progressive force, Nicola Sturgeon announced on Saturday that the party would support raising the national minimum wage to £8.70 by 2020.

In her address to the SNP conference, the leader said:

“I can announce today that in the next Westminster Parliament, the SNP will back an increase in the minimum wage of £2 an hour - taking it to £8.70 by 2020.”

The proposal shows that there is room for the party to work with Labour on this issue of tackling low pay, however, Labour has a more conservative proposal of raising it to £8 by 2020. Whilst the two parties disagree on an exact number, raising the minimum wage is something that both are committed to, showing that they could work together in the event of a hung parliament.

Scotland’s - soon to be - largest party has high hopes. With policies like these it is clear that they are positioning themselves as a progressive force and one that could work with Labour.

Whether or not the parties will work together in some form is yet to be seen, but there is certainly room for the parties to do so. Miliband has been warned against getting into bed with the nationalists, but with policy overlaps and a chance for power, Ed Miliband could very well be tempted.

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