Despite Ed Miliband ruling out a deal with the Scottish Nationalists during the recent BBC TV debate, much to the chagrin of its leader Nicola Sturgeon, her predecessor Alex Salmond moved on Saturday to increase the pressure on the Labour leader, suggesting he will find it difficult to avoid doing some form of deal with the SNP in the event of another hung parliament.
Salmond said all parties would have to face up to the "electorate's judgment" after polling day on May 7, adding that Miliband had been "foolish" to rule out a coalition with the and suggested that he reacted because he was "under pressure from the Conservative press.”
If the election resulted in a hung parliament, Salmond predicted the "most likely" outcome was an agreement by the SNP to support Labour on a vote-by-vote basis. "I think that after the election every Westminster politician will have to come and face the reality of the electorate's judgment," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
"There is no disrespect or disgrace in any politician coming to terms with the democratically expressed position of the electorate. All politicians, those of us who are lucky enough to be elected, chosen by the people, will try to do their best as they see it in the interests of the people who elected them."
Labour has been steadfast in insisting that it will not need SNP votes to govern - rejecting Conservative claims that Miliband would be a prisoner of the nationalists if he entered No 10.
Salmond also made clear that SNP MPs at Westminster would be prepared to vote on England-only issues - such as health and education where power has been devolved to the Scottish Parliament - if they impact on Scotland.
"The vast majority of votes have an economic impact," he said. "When I was a Member of Parliament before I voted against foundation hospitals in England because I thought it would lead to the fragmentation of the health service and then have effects in Scotland. I voted against tuition fees for English students in England. It is not English-only legislation, if it has an economic impact it has an impact on Scotland."
He indicated that the SNP could use their votes to try to change the Budget of the next government. "I don't think there is a single Member of Parliament or a single political party who wouldn't wish to be in a position and have an effect and influence for the betterment of their own constituents and, indeed, the betterment of politics across these islands," he said.
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