"This footage will shock you," David Cameron tweeted on Wednesday morning. "Alex Salmond laughs & boasts he’ll write Labour’s budget. Vote Conservative to stop it." The prime minister posted a video of the former SNP leader joking that it would be him, not Ed Balls, who would be writing the Budget should Labour form the next government.
The Conservatives have spent days trying to hammer voters with the message that a minority Labour government would be reliant on SNP support and that Ed Miliband is in Salmond's "pocket". Labour has ruled out a formal coalition with the SNP.
In the video taken at what looks like a public meeting, Salmond refers to shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna's pledge that Labour's Scottish leader, Jim Murphy, would not be writing the Budget. "He said famously the Scottish Labour leader will not be writing the Labour party Budget, but then I knew that already because I’m writing the Labour party Budget," Salmond says. Salmond adds: "I’ll just check my top pocket."
Asked about the video on the BBC's Daily Politics today, Labour's shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Chris Leslie, said the idea the SNP would exert influence over Labour's Budget was "total nonsense". On the same programme, the SNP's deputy leader in Westminster, Stewart Hosie, said of Salmond's comments: "I think he was having a bit of fun."
Earlier on Wednesday, Salmond hit back at Cameron's "jibe" about him pinching people's wallets, quipping: "the Tories have been picking Scotland's pocket for years."
Cameron was broadcast making the quip at the end of an interview and viewer call-in on ITV's This Morning as host Phillip Schofield moved onto the next item. Schofield said: "Up next, a man who can pinch your wallet, your watch and even your tie without you noticing." Cameron, who was off camera, could then be heard saying: "Is that Alex Salmond?" Co-host Amanda Holden burst out laughing at the remark as the programme went to adverts.
Salmond said: "The Tories have been picking Scotland's pocket for years, and have been well and truly rumbled, which is why David Cameron and the rest of the Westminster gang are sinking like a stone in Scotland. Of course, it's typical of David Cameron's style to make an off-microphone jibe but he didn't have the bottle to debate in the referendum, or with Nicola Sturgeon in this election campaign - if he had he'd be looking even more hot and bothered."