Scotland must be able to make own decisions on tax, SNP says

Party is on course to take dozens of seats from the Labour Party

Scotland must be able to make its own decisions about taxation and spending to fend off plans by the Conservatives to cut £30 billion from public spending, the Scottish National Party has declared.

Three thousand party members – many of them newcomers – have gathered in Glasgow for a two-day conference in advance of the UK general election in May, the biggest gathering of its type ever held.

"The SNP London branch has now got more members that the Scottish Liberal Democrats," declared SNP MEP Alyn Smith, "and it will have even more of them after May."

The SNP is riding high in Scotland, bidding to take dozens of seats from the Labour Party — an outcome which threatens Labour's Ed Miliband's hopes to remove David Cameron from 10 Downing Street.


The SNP is offering to support Labour on a vote-by-vote basis after May, arguing that it will make Scotland’s voice heard in Westminster – a message that is being heard by voters, according to a succession of polls.

Motions put to the conference about the economy, about the proposed EU/US trade deal and other matters were passed by acclamation in an atmosphere that bordered on congratulatory, at times.

“With Labour and the Tories having voted together for a further £30 billion of austerity cuts, it is clear that Scotland needs to be able to make its own choices on tax and spending.

"A strong team of SNP MPs will use our clout to get full control of these job-creating powers so that we can build an economic policy based on jobs and growth – and keep the proceeds of growth in Scotland," said SNP deputy leader, Stewart Hosie.

In a speech later, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will tell voters elsewhere in the UK that they should welcome the SNP's hold on power in Westminster, "not fear it."

Declaring “a message of friendship and solidarity”, Sturgeon will say that SNP support for a minority Labour government is the best way to to overhaul Westminster’s “outdated and discredited” system.

"To the people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, I make this promise – the SNP stands ready to work with you in making that positive change," the First Minister will declare.

The Conservatives in England have campaigned hard in recent weeks in marginal constituencies there, telling voters that a vote for Labour is a vote for an unstable, SNP-dominated administration.

Opinion polls suggest that the SNP could win between 40 and 53 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster constituencies on May 7th — up from just the six it holds today: “There are no Labour heartlands,” said MSP Humza Yousaf.

Mark Hennessy

Mark Hennessy

Mark Hennessy is a Project Editor with The Irish Times.