Nationalists open to ‘progressive’ alliance

By Alex Stevenson

The Scottish National party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru have signalled their willingness to work in a four-party ‘progressive’ alliance keeping the Conservatives out of power.

The Conservatives are the largest party in the new parliament with 306 seats, but – after safe Tory seat Thirsk and Malton votes later this month – will still be 19 seats short of an overall majority.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats together hold 315 seats – but with support from Plaid (three MPs) and the SNP (six MPs) they would command 324 seats.

With five Sinn Fein MPs not taking their seats this would be sufficient to command a miniscule majority.

Responding to Gordon Brown’s statement outside Downing Street yesterday that he was prepared to talk to all party leaders, the nationalist heads signalled their willingness to present an alternative to the proposed Tory-Lib Dem coalition currently being negotiated.

“The assumption by some that the only option now available for a new UK government is a Tory Liberal pact is not correct,” the SNP’s first minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, said.

“There are alternatives and far more progressive outcomes available should politicians have the will to seize the moment. Plaid and the SNP are indicating that we do.”

Plaid’s leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said his party had a track record of working with other parties. The Welsh nationalists have been in coalition with Labour in the Welsh Assembly since 2007.

“We will now do what is expected of us by the electorate and explore the potential of working with other parties in Westminster in order to achieve the best deal for Wales,” Mr Wyn Jones said.

“A more balanced parliament is a real opportunity to bring about a new approach to politics in the UK which would be welcomed throughout the nations of these islands.”