THE SNP has accused Scotland's biggest Labour-run council of snubbing Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon over an offer to speak at a major economic conference.

The Scottish Government had proposed Ms Sturgeon, who is also a Glasgow MSP, should speak at Glasgow's annual State of the Economy Conference.

However, the offer was rebuffed by the council in favour of an invite to former chancellor Alistair Darling.

The move has led the SNP to accuse the city's Labour administration of using the event as part of its anti-independence cam-paign and has again brought to the fore tensions between the Government and the Labour-run Glasgow.

Last night the city council dismissed the claim and said it had initially offered the role of keynote speaker to Finance Minister John Swinney.

It said Mr Darling, who as well as his role as a backbench Labour MP heads the UK Better Together campaign, was invited to speak after Mr Swinney's office said he was unable to attend.

The offer of Ms Sturgeon as a replacement was knocked back, with one source claiming: "We'll not be having the Scottish Government determine who speaks in a conference in Glasgow, organised by Glasgow and about Glasgow."

The row is the latest in a series of behind-the-scenes spats between the Government and the city council – two of the three core partners in delivering the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

The Scottish Government was recently refused permission by Glasgow for the use of the new transport museum on the Clyde for the launch of its travel smartcard plans, with Ms Sturgeon then staging the event on the city's Buchanan Street instead.

For its part, the council was irked that September's reception for Scotland's Olympians was held at the city centre Fruitmarket venue rather than the logistically easier City Chambers, immediately beside the main public event in George Square.

There was also bad blood after allegations Ms Sturgeon and then Infrastructure Minister Alex Neil attempted to sideline the Labour-run Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, which runs the Glasgow Subway, when announcing a £250 million refurbishment of the system.

According to one senior source, the simmering antagonism is also clear in the much-lauded partnership approach to the 2014 Games. The source said: "Its challenging. You've essentially got two core funders who can't bear being in the same room as one another."

A leading SNP source said: "Nicola wouldn't have had an issue speaking with Alistair Darling. Where we are constitutionally it could've made an interesting balance of views for Glasgow. But when you look at the recent incidents with how Glasgow has responded to a Government request you'll see there's a pattern with Nicola."

An SNP spokesman said: "It is a sad disservice to the people of Glasgow for the Labour council to refuse the Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for infrastructure and cities for an important conference on Glasgow's economy, in favour of a backbench opposition MP who represents Edinburgh. It is also extremely unwise for the Labour council to give the impression they are trying to turn this event into a platform for the No campaign."

A council spokesman said: "Alistair Darling is a former Chan- cellor of the Exchequer and an expert on the UK economy, and is therefore an appropriate speaker at our event. In fact, we have been trying to secure his attendance for a number of years."

l Leading airline Emirates has been officially named as a multimillion-pound sponsor for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.