THE Conservatives have made a big play of the role the Scottish National Party could play in propping up a Labour minority government. They claim that Ed Miliband would be Alex Salmond’s political poodle. PAUL KELLY asked borough shoppers if they share that concern.
OUR friends north of the border could be about to have a big say on issues affecting us here in South Tyneside.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) lost its battle for independence last year, but polls suggest it is set to win 40 to 50 seats at Westminster on Thursday, May 7.
That makes it possible, and some say probable, that the Scots will hold sway in the event of a hung Parliament being created.
The Conservatives have made a big play of fears that Labour leader Ed Miliband would then be at the mercy of the SNP if he is to form a minority government, even if it weren’t a formal coalition.
That could see Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon dictating policies that impact on England.
We asked shoppers in King Street, South Shields, if that was a concern they shared, and there was a general acceptance that Scottish MPs could soon have a big say in any future government.
Retired respiratory physician Dr Angela Lishman, 68, of Westoe, South Shields, said: “We have always had Scottish MPs having their say over what happens at this end of the country. It would be nice if we, in return, could have more say north of the border.
“I think a lot of the debate just stems from people trying to work out what position we are going to be in after the election.
“It is almost certainly going to be a coalition, and Labour won’t be able to do much without support from somewhere.”
Mum-of-four Margaret Foster, 67, of Whiteleas, South Shields, said: “There is a concern that the Scottish MPs will be looking to promote policies that bring jobs to Scotland, not England.
“I have a granddaughter of 21 who is trying all over to get a job, bless her, and she can’t get a job anywhere.
“It’s obvious that their priority will be to help Scotland, not us. That’s a worry.”
Retired building site manager Aaron Robertson, 75, said: “The Scots would have too much to say about the way we live our lives.
“I have a grandson at university, and we are having to help pay for his £9,000 tuition fees, but in Scotland, it is free. How can that be right?
“The Scots are so much better off than we are. It needs to be rebalanced in our favour.”
Moynul Hussain, 41, owner of Biddick Hall Spice in South Shields, is a Labour Party member.
He said: “I’d much rather see Labour win an overall majority, but they could well need the SNP and, although I wouldn’t mind that too much, it depends on what the SNP asks for.
“When Nick Clegg went into coalition with the Conservatives I don’t think he had much to say, but I can’t imagine that will be the case with the SNP.”
Helen Hill, 47, manager of the Feline Friends charity shop in Winchester Street, South Shields, said: “I don’t mind the Scots.
“From what I have gathered, their economy is doing better than ours, so I don’t imagine that we have got anything to worry about from them.
“I know we fought each other a few hundred years ago, but I can’t see any reason why we can’t be friends now.
“I see very little difference between the two main political parties, and because I’m an animal lover, I will be voting Green because of its policies on issues such as badger culls and fox-hunting.”
Labour-supporting car mechanic Mark Reay, 45, of Hatfield Square, South Shields, has already submitted his postal vote.
He said: “If Labour does a deal with the SNP, it will have a lot of influence on what happens here. It is a concern.”