NICOLA Sturgeon will today deepen concerns on the Left and Right over the prospect of a Labour-SNP alliance governing Britain by widening her party's political scope and describing how the Nationalists want to play a "constructive" role to benefit not just Scotland but the whole UK too.


The First Minister's remarks, to be set out in a speech at the London School of Economics, will come after the Conservatives criticised Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, for refusing 13 times in an interview to rule out a post-poll deal with the SNP at Westminster.

Most members of Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet and the Parliamentary Labour Party are said to want their leader to rule out any deal with the Nationalists well ahead of the May 7 General Election.

It has been suggested the PLP will hold a Commons meeting after the election to kill off any plan Mr Miliband might have to strike a deal with Ms Sturgeon.

Graham Stringer, the Labour backbencher, said there was no way the PLP would support any pact with the SNP because it would do such long-term damage to the party's electability.

'We need to slam the door on a deal with the Nationalists," he declared. "It is not just harming our vote in Scotland; the prospect of an alliance with a party which wants to break up the UK is also hitting our prospects south of the border."

Ms Sturgeon, who is said to be planning a "charm tour" of English cities, will tell her London audience, that having been told before the referendum Scotland was an "equal and valued member of the UK", people should not now be surprised if the SNP Government started to take them at their word.

"We have clear and constructive views on many aspects of UK policy, which affect Scotland deeply; views which we know are often shared by many people elsewhere in the UK. We intend to bring those ideas forward in a positive spirit," she is due to say.

The FM will outline a "different approach" to budget setting, using examples of oil and gas, the work allowance and Trident.

She is expected to add: "If we can be a constructive voice in the months and years ahead, we won't just serve Scotland's interests; we'll help where we can to bring positive change across the UK as well."

Fears within Labour and Conservative ranks over a possible Lab-SNP alliance have been further stoked by Alex Salmond, who suggested Mr Miliband would find it "very difficult" to rebuff "our approach".

The ex-party leader, who is seeking to become the MP for Gordon, boasted: "We'll shake Westminster to its foundations."

On the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Balls was repeatedly asked to rule out a deal with the Nationalists and each time refused to do so.

"We have no plans, no need, no desire to have any deal with the SNP. This is a party which wants to break up the United Kingdom," he declared as he sought to turn attention to a possible Tory-Ukip pact after Nigel Farage set out his party's conditions for any deal with David Cameron, including having an EU referendum by Christmas.

Asked again to rule out a deal with the Nationalists, the Shadow Chancellor replied: "Large parties at this stage say we're fighting for a majority and we are. I'm not going to get involved in speculation about post-election deals."

But George Osborne seized on his opponent's words, insisting: "Ed Miliband can't be the Prime Minister without the support of Alex Salmond...He and Ed Balls are openly contemplating a deal to get themselves into Downing St on the back of people who want to break up the UK."

The Chancellor brushed aside talk of a Tory-Ukip deal, saying the situation with Mr Farage's party was "fundamentally different" to that of the SNP because the former could only win a handful of seats while the latter look set to win dozens.