Ed Miliband urged voters in Scotland to back Labour in the upcoming general election to help "boot out this Tory government".

The Labour leader barely mentioned the SNP as he gave a speech in Edinburgh, instead portraying May's election as a battle between his party and the Conservatives.

With support for the nationalists surging in the wake of the independence referendum, Mr Miliband told voters north of the border that backing any other party but Labour would lead to five more years of Tory rule at Westminster.

Opinion polls predict Labour could lose swathes of seats in its Scottish heartlands to the SNP, leading Mr Miliband to warn: "Every vote cast for another party, including the SNP, makes that prospect of a Tory government more likely.

"It is just a matter of arithmetic.

"Because every one less Labour MP makes it more likely the Tories will be the largest party."

With the election expected to be the "closest for a generation" the Labour leader said voters in Scotland would play a crucial part in deciding the next government.

Mr Miliband, who was addressing a special one day Scottish Labour conference, declared: "It is the people of Scotland who will help decide this election.

"It is the people of Scotland who can help boot out this Tory government.

"Together, with working people across the UK, we can give David Cameron his marching orders.

"Together, we can send George Osborne off to the City of London. Together, we can give Iain Duncan Smith his P45, and doesn't he deserve it.

"Together, we can put an end to a Tory government and create something new."

He continued: "I am asking people here in Scotland to vote Labour to get rid of the Tories and their failed austerity plan.

"But I have a bigger reason. I am asking people here in Scotland to vote Labour for a society and economy founded on different values."

David Cameron had earlier challenged Mr Miliband to publicly rule out any post-election pact with the SNP, saying a party which wants to "break up Britain" has no place in the UK's government.

The Labour leader, who is also said to be under pressure from Scottish MPs to rule out such a deal, made no mention of this in his keynote speech.

Instead he focused on the "choice between two UK governments" Britain is facing in two months time

Mr Miliband warned: "The Tories could wreak havoc in Scotland without winning a majority. They could do it by being in government as the largest party.

"It is a nightmare on Downing Street

"A Tory decade for Scotland. Ten years of David Cameron in Downing Street. George Osborne alongside him.

"Ten years of injustice. Ten years of unfairness. Ten years of attacking everything we hold dear in our country

"Let's sound the alarm across Scotland that this could happen in less than 9 weeks' time.."

He continued: "If you want to see the end of the Tory government, the only way to make it happen is to vote Labour on May 7.

"The biggest risk of Scotland getting the government it didn't vote for is to believe you can get a Labour government while voting for somebody else.

"The way to get rid of the Tories and get a Labour government is to vote Labour on May 7. The stakes are so high at this election."

Mr Miliband, who warned Scotland could face a budget cut of almost 10% if the Tories are re-elected, went on to warn: "The stakes are so high at this election.

"Scottish working families can't afford to take the risk of a Tory government. Scotland can't afford to take that risk."

He added: "We know we've got a big fight on our hands.

"A fight like we haven't faced before. The fight of our lives. A fight for the future of our country."

Mr Miliband said "independent figures" from the Institute of Fiscal Studies showed the Scottish block grant of £30 billion could be reduced by £2.7 billion under the Conservatives.

"That's £500 for every man, woman and child," he added.

The Labour leader went on to argue if these cuts were spread evenly across the Scottish budget, the NHS north of the border would be more than £1 billion worse off.

He said: "The scale of the reductions in spending that the Tories are planning would mean that the Scottish government will have to make deep cuts somewhere or impose huge tax rises on working people.

"If the cuts are spread evenly, it would mean over £1 billion of cuts to the NHS.

"Just think what that would mean for the health service in Scotland. It is the equivalent of 15,500 nurses and 3,500 GPs.

"That's why Scotland's NHS can't afford another five years of the Tories."

In contrast he pledged Labour would "protect our NHS" with a 'Mansion Tax' on properties worth more than £2 million being used to fund "more doctors, nurses and care workers in every part of the UK, including 1,000 new nurses here in Scotland".

On tax he promised Labour would bring back the 10p starting rate for income tax, along with the 50p rate for top earners.

He also vowed: "The next Labour government will call time on tax evasion and tax avoidance."

Mr Miliband said his party would "call time on the tax avoiders, the tax evaders, the hedge funds, the Tory party donors, who believe there is one law for the rich and powerful and another law for everyone else."

This would mean "no sweetheart deals from the revenue, no turning a blind eye from the taxman, no tolerance of the tax havens" under Labour.

New powers proposed for Scotland would see decisions over income tax made at Holyrood, with Mr Miliband adding devolution reforms would also transfer powers over job creation and benefit levels/

After the leaders of the three main Westminster parties had pledged more power for Scotland in the run up to the referendum, Mr Miliband said: "We wrote the vow. We made the vow.

"And with a Bill put before Parliament in the first 100 days of a Labour government, we will deliver the vow."

SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie MP said: "This speech confirms the utter hypocrisy of Ed Miliband's party, and confirms why Labour's vote is melting away in Scotland.

"Working arm-in-arm with the Tories for two-and-a-half years in the No campaign, Labour were adamant that decisions at Westminster have no impact on Scotland's NHS. Now they are blurting out the truth, which is why Scotland needs responsibility for our own resources.

"In the final days and hours of the referendum, Labour told voters that Scotland's NHS was safe with a No vote - and they have now performed a complete U-turn.

"Ed Miliband should issue an immediate apology for Labour so shamelessly misleading the people of Scotland in the referendum.

"And his claim that the next UK Government will be determined by who gets the most seats is Labour's big lie in this campaign. Ed Miliband is plain wrong - it will be determined by who can command a majority in the House of Commons. If there are more anti-Tory MPs in the House of Commons than Tory MPs, the only circumstances in which David Cameron could walk back into Downing Street is if Labour let him - the SNP never will.

"It is time Labour faced reality - they are not going to win a majority in the House of Commons, and will need the votes of others to govern.

"The people of Scotland can vote for SNP MPs in May to get rid of the Tories and have a powerful voice for Scotland at Westminster - a voice which will deliver the promises made to the people of Scotland, to move away from austerity economics, and stop the waste of tens of billions of pounds on a new generation of Trident nuclear weapons."

Mr Miliband also accused David Cameron of "running scared" from the proposed TV leaders' debates, with Labour's Ed MIliband confirming he will take part in all three pre-election showdowns.

He pledged: "With or without David Cameron, I will be at the debates."

He announced the move at one day Scottish Labour conference in Edinburgh, where he branded the Tory leader "chicken".

Mr Miliband told the Prime Minister: "You can try to escape the people's debates, but you will not escape the people's verdict."

He spoke out after Labour campaign chairman Douglas Alexander confirmed in a letter to broadcasters that the Labour leader was prepared to appear, even though Mr Cameron appears unlikely to take part.

The four broadcasters - the BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 - have said they will stick to their previously-announced plans for three debates during the election campaign, and urged the Prime Minister to "reconsider" his refusal to take part in these shows, including a head-to-head showdown with Mr Miliband.

But Mr Cameron's chief spin doctor Craig Oliver said their response was "disappointing" and restated the Prime Minister's "final position" was for a single debate to take place in the week starting March 23.

Mr Milliband said that showed that the Conservatives were not prepared to defend their record in government in the TV debates.

The Labour leader said: "This is what David Cameron used to say about TV election debates: That they were essential to our democracy. That every country apart from Mongolia had them.

"That he wasn't going to have any feeble excuses to get out of debates.

"And now he is doing everything he can to stop them."

But he said it was on the issue of leadership that "Mr Cameron's duplicity has caught up with him".

He added: "He says this election is all about leadership, all about the choice between him and me, and when it comes to a debate between him and me, he's running scared. He's running away.

"I say to David Cameron: You can refuse to face the public, but you can't deny your record.

"You can try to chicken out of the debates, but don't ever again claim that you provide strong leadership.

"You can try to escape the people's debates, but you will not escape the people's verdict."

He continued: "Today the Labour Party has written to the broadcasters. Saying with or without David Cameron, I will be at the debates."

Mr Miliband went on: "When all people see is an empty chair, his claims of leadership will be exposed as empty.

"Now we know why the chicken crossed the road, to avoid the TV election debates."

In his letter to the broadcasters, Mr Alexander said: "Like you, we hope that David Cameron and the Conservative party will take this opportunity to conclude that these debates are in the public interest and that not showing up will not just be damaging to the Conservative party but to our democracy as well."

The broadcasters said they would stick to plans for a seven-way debate involving Mr Cameron, Labour's Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg of the Lib Dems and the leaders of the Greens, Ukip, Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru on ITV on April 2, followed by a second show on BBC featuring the same line-up on April 16.

A final one-on-one clash between the Tory and Labour leaders would be broadcast on Sky News and Channel 4 on April 30 - exactly a week before the May 7 election.

In a letter to Mr Oliver, the broadcasters made clear they were ready to go ahead with the debates even if Mr Cameron decides not to take part - effectively "empty-chairing" the Prime Minister.

But Mr Oliver replied: "I made the Prime Minister's final position clear in my last letter - he is willing to do a seven-way debate in the week beginning March 23.

"Clearly it is disappointing that you are not prepared to take him up on that offer.

"I am ready to discuss at your convenience the logistics of making the debate we have suggested happen."

With neither side in the stand-off backing down, the debates are set to go ahead without Mr Cameron's participation.