Sturgeon makes promise to voters across UK
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today promised voters outside of Scotland the SNP will exercise any influence it has within a hung parliament “responsibly and constructively” as she launched the party’s manifesto.
The SNP leader said her party would seek “progressive change” throughout the UK as she offered to “hold out a hand of friendship” to voters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The manifesto published this morning includes a commitment that SNP MPs will “demand an end to austerity” as well as an increase in NHS spending across the UK of £24bn by 2020-21, £2bn of which will flow to the NHS Scotland budget.
The party has also endorsed a number of Labour manifesto pledges with a promise to vote for a tax on bankers’ bonuses, a mansion tax plus the reintroduction of a 50p top rate of tax.
Sturgeon reiterated that the General Election was “not about independence” but rather about “making Scotland stronger” amid persistent pressure to rule out another poll in the lifetime of the next parliament.
David Cameron yesterday warned that a Labour government supported by the SNP was a "frightening prospect" which would leave England, Wales and Northern Ireland "without a look-in" at Westminster.
However, in what she termed a promise to voters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Sturgeon said: “Even though you can't vote SNP, your views do matter to me.
“And you have a right to know what to expect of my party if the votes of the Scottish people give us influence in a hung parliament.
“If the SNP emerges from this election in a position of influence, we will exercise that influence responsibly and constructively. And we will exercise it in the interests of people, not just in Scotland, but across the UK.”
Other manifesto pledges outlined this morning include:
- Increase spending by 0.5 per cent a year, providing an extra £140bn to support the economy and public services, including an extra £24bn for the NHS across the UK
- Set an annual UK target to build 100,000 affordable homes
- Increase the minimum wage to £8.70 by 2020
Amid a focus by opposition parties in recent weeks on full fiscal autonomy, the SNP manifesto commits the party to “seek agreement that the Scottish Parliament should move to full fiscal responsibility”.
Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy labelled it a “'say one thing do another’ manifesto” as he highlighted the SNP’s refusal to rule out another referendum.
“The SNP promised last year that the referendum was a once in a generation deal,” he said. “By refusing to rule out another referendum in their manifesto today, the SNP have broken that promise to the Scottish people.
“When you look at all the pressures in Scotland – the growing gap between the poor and the prosperous, the crisis in the NHS and the number of people stuck on zero hours contracts, then Scotland surely has higher priorities than thinking about another referendum.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael said: “This is a manifesto of short-term thinking leading to long-term debt.
“Instead of taking the opportunity to map a route out of debt, Nicola Sturgeon is sticking with a plan to plunge the country further into it.”