With elections just 17 days away, the hitherto placid campaign came alive on Monday as the leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon, clearly enjoying the key position her party is in, set out her post-poll plans and ruled out any pact with the Conservatives.
Clad in a bright pink dress, Sturgeon, 44, got as much prominence on the British news while releasing her party manifesto as David Cameron (Conservative) and Ed Miliband (Labour) did when they released theirs, reflecting the influence her party is expected to have in the post-poll scenario.
Sturgeon has seen her ratings shoot up after recent TV debates despite Cameron and his party exploiting apprehension that the Scots may use their influence in Westminster after the May 7 elections to insist on another referendum for Scotland’s independence.
“I offer a hand of friendship to people of the UK, and promise to work to bring about real change for all,” Sturgeon said, adding her inbox was ‘heaving’ with emails from people outside Scotland asking if they could vote for SNP.
SNP’s manifesto was immediately dubbed by the Conservative as the ‘most expensive ransom note in history’. Sturgeon has previously been called a ‘hostage-taker’ by Tory leaders.
In 2010, SNP won 6 of 59 seats in Scotland. This time it may win over 40 seats thanks to gains it made during last year’s independence referendum.
Sturgeon repeated her offer to help ‘put Miliband in 10 Downing Street’, but both have ruled out a formal coalition. Instead, it is becoming increasingly apparent that SNP group would support a Labour government on the outside.