Scot­land’s surg­ing na­tion­al­ist party to launch its UK elec­tion man­i­festo

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

The pro-in­de­pen­dence Scot­tish Na­tional Party (SNP) was Mon­day launch­ing its man­i­festo for the United King­dom’s gen­eral elec­tion next month, af­ter which it could play a cen­tral role in gov­ern­ment.

Leader Ni­cola Stur­geon is ex­pected to say the party would fight to end aus­ter­ity cuts and scrap the UK’s Tri­dent nu­clear de­ter­rent if it ends up sup­port­ing a mi­nor­ity Labour gov­ern­ment af­ter May 7.

Opin­ion polls sug­gest that the SNP is set to make huge gains in Scot­land, the only place in the UK where they stand for elec­tion.

The party cur­rently has six seats in the House of Com­mons but is ex­pected to sweep to victory in the ma­jor­ity of Scot­land’s 59 seats, mostly at the ex­pense of the cen­ter-left Labour Party and the cen­trist Lib­eral Democrats..

As nei­ther cen­ter-left Labour nor Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron’s cen­ter-right Con­ser­va­tives is ex­pected to win an out­right ma­jor­ity, this means they will likely have to team up with a smaller party or par­ties in or­der to gov­ern.

“Hope­fully the SNP will be in a po­si­tion of in­flu­ence (with a) huge abil­ity to change the di­rec­tion of a gov­ern­ment with­out bring­ing a gov­ern­ment down,” Stur­geon told the Guardian news­pa­per in an in­ter­view Mon­day.

Stur­geon has been talk­ing up the prospect of the SNP sup­port­ing a mi­nor­ity Labour gov­ern­ment led by Ed Miliband while rul­ing out sup­port­ing the Con­ser­va­tives.

Miliband says he would not en­ter a for­mal coali­tion with the SNP, which runs Scot­land’s de­volved gov­ern­ment, while not ex­plic­itly rul­ing out a more in­for­mal al­liance.

The SNP led the un­suc­cess­ful cam­paign for Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence at a ref­er­en­dum last year but has since seen its membership quadru­ple to more than 100,000 peo­ple.

Stur­geon, who has per­formed strongly in a se­ries of elec­tion TV de­bates, has said she can­not rule out an­other ref­er­en­dum in the next par­lia­ment.

“For per­haps the first time, the SNP have proved our com­plete rel­e­vance to a West­min­ster gen­eral elec­tion,” a se­nior SNP cam­paign source said.

“If we earn peo­ple’s trust on May 7, we can be in a de­ci­sive po­si­tion to help de­liver a bolder pro­gram than Labour on their own are will­ing to.”

The Con­ser­va­tives are try­ing to play on the fears of some English vot­ers about the pos­si­ble role of the SNP with posters por­tray­ing Miliband as Stur­geon’s pup­pet.

Cameron said in a BBC in­ter­view Sun­day: “This would be the first time in our his­tory that a group of na­tion­al­ists from one part of our coun­try would be in­volved in al­ter­ing the di­rec­tion of our coun­try and I think that is a fright­en­ing prospect.”

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