Saturday, 17 October 2009

Scotland prepares for the Election Battle

SNP man's hung Parliament demands

Press Association

First Minister Alex Salmond is expected set out an early shopping list for his demands at Westminster in the event of a hung Parliament. The SNP leader, who has set his party the task of boosting its present contingent of seven MPs to at least 20 at the next General Election, will set out his stall in his speech to the SNP conference in Inverness. Mr Salmond has already declared that his party will enter into no coalitions but will negotiate on a case-by-case basis with whoever is the largest party.

This has left the SNP open to Labour charges that it would be prepared to prop up a minority Tory administration, a charge denied by the SNP leader who argues his party will instead seem to maximise social and economic concessions for Scotland. His early shopping list will include demands for Scotland to be given permission to bring forward £350 million of capital spending earmarked for future years, more money for home insulation, and £300 million extra for Scotland as a consequence of Olympic Games spending in London and extra prison spending south of the border.

The SNP would also seek to extract concessions from the Treasury over extending the timescale for paying for the new Forth road bridge because of the "scale and unique nature" of that project.

A spokesman for Mr Salmond said: "Whether the next UK government is Labour or Tory, the best result for Scotland will be a balanced or hung Westminster Parliament - a minority Government with a Scottish block of 20 SNP MPs fighting for and winning key objectives for Scotland.

"These are clear and achievable and in the context of a likely emergency Budget after the election are focused on measures to support jobs and economic activity in Scotland."

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