Ahead of elections in the UK, opposition leader Ed Miliband has said that his Labour party would not form a coalition with the Scottish National Party. Polls suggest a tight vote, where a "winner" might need allies.
Less than two months before UK general elections, polls suggest it's likely that no single party will win an outright majority in parliament, despite the "first-past-the-post" voting system employed in Britain. As a result, possible coalition partnerships have dominated much of the attention during the campaign. On Monday, opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband appeared to rule out such an alliance with the Scottish National Party.
"It will not happen," Labour's Miliband told supporters in Pudsey in northern England. "Labour will not go into coalition government with the SNP. There will be no SNP ministers in any government I lead."
Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron had first raised this issue, saying that the Labour party was planning a "despicable" bid to assume power in Westminster on the coattails of the SNP's Scottish success. The SNP claimed control of Scotland's parliament in 2012, and with minor parties usually unable to win seats under the UK's voting system, their control north of the border could tip the balance in Westminster.
Miliband, however, accused the Conservatives of misdirection in Yorkshire on Monday.
"The Tories, the party that haven't won a majority for over 20 years, are now running a misleading campaign based on the idea of a Labour-SNP coalition," Miliband said. "As I said on Thursday night, this is nonsense."
A YouGov poll published in the "Sunday Times" newspaper put Cameron's Tories and Miliband's Labour party neck and neck at 34 percent support among those surveyed. Euroskeptic group UKIP was well adrift in third on 14 percent, but also comfortably ahead of the Liberal Democrats on 7 and the Greens at 5 percent.
In Scottish constituencies, however, the same poll said that the SNP can hope for 46 percent of the vote and another comfortable parliamentary majority.
'Informal alliances' also a possibility
The Conservatives put little stock in Miliband's Monday statement, saying that it was meaningless because he did not rule out an informal alliance between the parties.
"This changes nothing. Ed Miliband will not rule out a deal with the SNP because he knows it's impossible to become prime minister without being carried into Downing Street in Alex Salmond's pocket," a party spokesman said, referring to the former SNP leader Salmond.
Salmond's successor, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said that Labour and the SNP would continue working together to keep the Tories out of Downing Street.
Also on Monday, euroskeptic United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage published his pre-election book "The Purple Revolution," seeming to set out his terms for an informal alliance with the Conservatives after the vote.
"I would look to do a deal where we would back key votes for them, such as the budget, but in return for very specific criteria on an EU referendum," Farage said in extracts from the book, which is being serialized in the right-leaning broadsheet "The Daily Telegraph" each Sunday before the vote. "The terms of my deal with the Tories would be very precise and simple. I want a full and fair referendum to be held in 2015."
Coalition could answer referendum question
Cameron has also pledged a so-called "in/out" referendum on EU membership, to be held by 2017 if he wins reelection, but it's unclear whether other political parties - besides UKIP - would support these plans if Conservatives were to require parliamentary support in order to govern.
Britain's last vote in 2010 was also among the closest on record, in a country whose voting system generally encourages clear-cut results, also leading to the formation of a coalition government. In it, the left-leaning Liberal Democrats agreed to ally with the Conservatives, despite their policy pledges diverging on almost every major issue prior to the uneasy alliance.
The result, in broad strokes, was the collapse of Liberal Democrat support; having won 22 percent of the popular vote in 2010, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's party is now polling at just 7 percent.
The UK votes on May 7.
msh/kms (AFP, Reuters)