The SNP should be less confrontational and co-operate with political rivals – and the English, Scotland’s First Minister has said. Nicola Sturgeon wants to build a “progressive alliance” capable of propelling Ed Miliband into 10 Downing Street after May’s UK general election, she told i in an exclusive interview.
The SNP will very likely refuse to join a coalition with Labour, Ms Sturgeon said, if neither the Conservatives nor Labour wins a majority – the most probable result according to current polling. She would prefer to support a Labour minority government “on a case-by-case basis”, an arrangement known as “confidence and supply”, so long as Mr Miliband agreed to moderately increase public spending.
The SNP wouldn’t enter into a coalition unless Labour was willing to scrap Trident renewal, she said – a position Labour will not countenance. What’s more, the fate of the current junior Coalition partners, the Lib Dems, alarms Ms Sturgeon. “I think it would be very unlikely to have the SNP in a formal coalition in Westminster. I’m not ruling it out entirely. I think it’s more likely if we were to be in this scenario, that the SNP would act in an issue-by-issue, confidence-and-supply arrangement.”
She could yet end up in the curious position of supporting a form of government she wants to see abolished. But Ms Sturgeon has a plan, of course. If the SNP wins a large block of seats and can put Mr Miliband in Downing Street, she intends to prise from him new powers for Scotland – and to push the case for Scottish independence again. “We will always seek to use the levers we have,” she said. “I’m not making any secret of the fact I still believe in independence. We’ll continue to argue the case."
Women in politics and the boardroom
Quotas are necessary. They’re a blunt tool. But if we had a real meritocracy now we’d have a gender balance. Progress is painfully slow.