Nicola Sturgeon has suggested Ed Miliband was bullied by the Tories into rejecting SNP support after the election, after accusing both the main parties of clinging to the idea they are entitled to a Westminster majority instead of embracing the multi-party election the public want.
In a BBC Newsnight leaders’ interview, Sturgeon, who first ruled out a formal coalition with Labour last October, stated again that such an arrangement was “highly unlikely”. She then added: “Ed Miliband has since said the same because he has been sort of bullied by the Tories to rule these things out.”
When Evan Davis put to her that Miliband had also ruled out any confidence-and-supply arrangement, the SNP leader responded: “What I am saying is that a vote-by-vote arrangement is both more likely and probably the way in which a big team of SNP MPs can wield maximum influence for Scotland’s benefit.”
Sturgeon said: “I think [Miliband] should be a bit tougher about being kicked around so much by the Tories. I think he should be bolder in saying that he will respect the wishes of voters because there is a more fundamental point than just how people in Scotland vote.”
She also indicated to Davis she would back a Labour Queen’s speech and seek to exert influence afterwards, as she did earlier on Monday in an interview of Radio 4’s Today programme, where she stated: “Exercising influence in a parliament is not just about the Queen’s speech. It’s about how you exercise influence on an issue by issue, vote by vote basis throughout the entirety of a parliament.”
During a discussion on whether Scottish MPs should vote on England-only issues, Sturgeon said that SNP MPs would vote with Labour to reduce tuition fees in England even if there was a Conservative majority there that didn’t support the change, because there would be a “knock-on effect” to Scottish universities.
Earlier in the day, Sturgeon accused Westminster parties of “hitting the panic button” and failing to recognise what the public wanted from the election, as a Guardian/ICM poll confirms the likelihood of a hung parliament.
Speaking at a campaign event in Kilmarnock, Sturgeon said: “Instead of embracing the multi-party election that the public want, Labour and the Tories are clinging to the idea that they are entitled to a majority in Westminster – which every poll indicates isn’t going to happen.”
She added: “The reality is that this is the people’s election, and voters do not appear to trust either party with a majority. The SNP is being open and honest about our position, that we will work to keep the Tories out and to keep Labour honest.”
In the confident interview Today interview on Monday morning, Sturgeon also rejected claims that she wanted a second independence referendum, responding: “No, I don’t. I want to make sure that that decision is driven by what people in Scotland want.” She added: “Even if we won every seat in Scotland that would not be a mandate for another referendum”.
Nicola Sturgeon was interviewer James Naughtie as to why anyone should believe – given her commitment to independence – that she had an interest in making Westminster work efficiently. She responded: “That’s a very fair question because it’s no secret that I want Scotland to be an independent country. I argued for that in the referendum last year and people in Scotland chose not to become independent at this time.”
Saying that the SNP had a vested interested in a better UK politics, she added: “Why we can be trusted is that as long as Westminster decisions affect Scotland it matters to the SNP and to Scotland that those are good decisions.”
This article was written by Libby Brooks, for theguardian.com on Monday 27th April 2015 20.52 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010