Sir John Major bowled Scotland’s First Minister an off break on Tuesday, claiming the rise of the SNP represents "'a real and present danger'' to the future of Britain, while parroting David Cameron’s line that a minority Labour government propped up by the nationalists would be a ''recipe for mayhem.” In response, SNP chief Nicola Sturgeon branded the cricket-loving former prime minister “an affront to democracy,” decrying his entrance into the general election campaign as "silly, over the top.”
Major, the last Tory prime minister to have an overall majority, claimed that Ed Miliband would be subjected to ''a daily dose of political blackmail'' from Scottish nationalists who would push to break up the United Kingdom. '"They will ask for the impossible and create merry hell if it is denied,'' he said. “The nightmare of a broken United Kingdom has not gone away. The separation debate is not over. The SNP is determined to prise apart the United Kingdom.''
Miliband recently accused Cameron of ''talking up'' the SNP in the hope that the nationalists will win seats from Labour north of the border and allow him to ''crawl back'' into 10 Downing Street.
Sturgeon, who addressed the Scottish Trades Union Congress in Ayr, said that SNP MPs at Westminster could ''vigorously and loudly'' support a future Labour government in some areas. She added: ''John Major's comments are silly, over the top and frankly they don't show him in a particularly good light. I want the SNP to go to Westminster to make Scotland's voice heard and also to be a voice for better politics, for the kind of politics that stands in opposition to Tory policies of austerity and undermining public services and pushing more people into poverty."
She added: ''I can understand why that message of standing up for ordinary people not just in Scotland but across the UK might offend John Major as an ex-Tory prime minister, but I think it's a message that will continue to win support right across Scotland.''
Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy accused both Cameron and Major of “tawdry politics.” He said: "John Major and David Cameron have given up on the Scottish Conservative Party and are giving their all to the SNP. The Tory party no longer has its own independent campaign in Scotland but has become an active campaigner for the SNP. The Tories are making it clear by their words and their deeds today that David Cameron can only be saved by Scotland voting SNP."
Murphy added: "We are clear that the way to guarantee the end of the Tory government is to vote Labour rather than to gamble on the messy outcomes of a hung parliament."