David Cameron is to use his first general election campaign visit to Scotland to declare that only the Conservatives can rescue Britain from a “nightmare scenario” in which Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon would “whack up taxes”.
In some of his strongest language about the dangers of a post-election alliance between Labour and the Scottish National party, the prime minister said Miliband and Sturgeon would prop each other up in a “debt-fuelled attack” on living standards.
The prime minister will seek to underline his unionist credentials when he visits all four constituent parts of the United Kingdom on Tuesday.
In a statement issued on the eve of his whistlestop tour of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England, the prime minister said: “Today, I am travelling to all four nations of our United Kingdom, to all four corners of our country, with one simple message: we have one month to save our economy from the disaster of an Ed Miliband government.”
Speaking during a Tory rally on the outskirts of Bristol on the eve of his UK-wide visit, the prime minister said: “I will do everything I can to put in front of the British people the choice and say if you want to avoid this nightmare scenario of Ed and Nicola propping each other up in a debt-fuelled attack on your living standards, there is only one choice. And that is to return a Conservative majority government.”
Miliband believes he has gone as far as he can in ruling out a post-election deal with the SNP without appearing to disenfranchise Scottish voters. He has stopped short of ruling out an informal arrangement with the nationalists who appear to be on the verge of an historic breakthrough in Scotland. A Panelbase/Sunday Times poll suggested that the SNP could gain 40 seats to take its total to 46 while Labour would lose 29 seats, leaving it with just 12 of Scotland’s 59 seats.
Cameron, who has been campaigning mainly in English Tory-held seats or in seats held by Labour and the Liberal Democrats with small majorities, said that an extra 23 Conservative seats would deliver a majority and make an SNP-Labour deal impossible.
He said: “It is worth making this point here in Bristol where with so many hard-working MPs and candidates: we are 23 seats short from an overall majority. We can provide that clear, decisive and frankly more accountable government that a majority Conservative government would deliver. We need those 23 seats.
“If we do that, we stick to the plan, we deliver the jobs, we cut the taxes and we avoid the nightmare scenario of Ed and Nicola whacking up taxes, debts, spending, borrowing and unlimited welfare – all the things that got this country into a terrible mess from which George Osborne and the team I have been leading have helped rescue us.”
Miliband has accused Cameron of forming an “unholy alliance” with the SNP. This is designed, according to Labour, to boost the SNP vote in Scotland and to increase the Tory vote in England by spreading scare stories about the influence of the nationalists in a hung parliament.
Labour believes evidence for such a Tory tactic includes the fact that Osborne and Michael Gove led a succession of cabinet ministers who praised Sturgeon for her performance in last week’s seven-strong television leaders’ debate.
The prime minister rejected a suggestion that the Tories were seeking to talk up the SNP to damage Labour.
Cameron said at his Bristol rally: “On this issue of Nicola Sturgeon, there is a huge difference between commending someone for their performance and commending someone for their politics. Nicola Sturgeon wants to do two things that are profoundly wrong. One is to break up our country and the second is to increase spending, borrowing and debt and taxes by even more than Ed Miliband wants to. That will destroy livelihoods, cost jobs, wreck our economy and it would hurt working people.”
This article was written by Nicholas Watt Chief political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 7th April 2015 06.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010