With General Election day rolling steadily closer, it’s looking increasingly as though Scotland – and the Scottish National Party in particular – could have a decisive influence on its outcome.
It is unlikely that either Conservative leader David Cameron or Labour leader Ed Miliband will be able to persuade the requisite percentage of the population to warrant a parliamentary majority on May 7, so both men will be forced to look to the smaller parties to form a coalition.
Enter the SNP, whose leader, Nicola Sturgeon, has been vociferous in her offers to prop up a Labour government, much to the consternation of Cameron’s Conservative’s, and the Labourites themselves.
The SNP are expected to decimate the Scottish Labour Party in the Scottish polls, and Sturgeon’s performance in last Thursday’s televised debate was seen as some to have been the strongest on show.
However, allegations against Sturgeon that she would actually prefer David Cameron to secure a second term as Prime Minister emerged from a leaked document over the weekend.
And her showings in the Scottish Leaders Debates on Tuesday and Wednesday night were much shakier.
But is it right that Sturgeon should be able to compete in debates on English TV, when the Scottish debates weren’t available to watch outside of Scotland?
Are Sturgeon and her party actually hankering to secure the independence that they narrowly missed out on in 2014?
With this in mind, MM took to the streets of Manchester and asked:
Is it fair that the SNP could influence who the next British Prime Minister is even though only Scottish people can vote for them?
More than half of Manchester believed it was fair that the SNP may hold the keys of 10 Downing Street.
And for some, at least, that stemmed from dissatisfaction with the state of the Labour Party – a damning indictment of them in one of their areas of staunchest support.
Simon Allen, a 29-year-old builder from Denton, was particularly dismissive of Labour’s hapless leader.
He said: “The reason it’s such an issue is because the SNP are thrashing Labour in Scotland and that’s because Ed Miliband is rubbish.
“I’ll always vote Labour but they really need to get rid of that clown.”
HOPELESS MILIBAND: Simon Allen believed SNP appealed more because of Labour’s hapless leader
His sentiments were echoed by 20-year-old coffee shop worker Aaron Jacobs.
He said: “I think it’s dead right that the SNP should have their fair say. They’re the strongest voice on the left of British politics. Labour deserted the left long ago and the Greens are just mental.
“We need them to help stop austerity, irrelevant of the fact that only Scottish people can vote for them.”
Meanwhile, 26-year-old teacher Jenny Findlater thinks that the situation is a natural and acceptable consequence of British politics.
She said: “People may not like it that the SNP could decide who wins but what other option is there? It’s the British elections, so of course all of the British parties will have an input.”
Some women clearly felt it easier to identify with Sturgeon, including 22-year-old student Jessica Smith.
She said: “The only thing that bothers me is that I can’t vote for [Sturgeon], she talks a lot more sense than all those others.”
SUPPORT: Jessica Smith believed hat SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon spoke sense
Similarly, Jane Little, a 52-year-old civil servant from Denton, enjoyed seeing a woman involved in the election battle.
“It’s great to see a woman up there,” she enthused.
“I just think that [SNP] are everything that Labour used to be so good on them, the fact that they’re led by a woman just makes them even better.”
However, Jane’s 54 year-old husband Graham was less enthusiastic about Mrs Sturgeon – and politics in general.
He said: “At the end of the day I don’t care if they’re from Scotland, Africa or Australia – them politicians are all the same.
“I’m a pipe fitter and none of them will ever do anything for me. So I don’t care what happens, I’m not voting anyway.”
Londoner Pam Adewale, a 21-year-old University of Manchester student, was similarly apathetic to the political system.
“I don’t understand any of it, why there’s different things for Scotland and stuff, it all makes it so much more confusing,” she admitted.
“Politics confuses me anyway, but this makes it even worse! I don’t know who to vote for. I might just close my eyes and see which name my pen hits.”
CONFUSING: Pam Adewale revealed she didn’t know who to vote for
On the other hand, some people weren’t keen on the idea of the SNP getting into bed with Labour to form a Government.
20-year-old politics student Daniel Turner-Price’s opposition to the Scottish Nationals stems from his dislike for Sturgeon.
“I just find her really fake,” Daniel said – although he did agree when it was pointed out that most politicians are.
“Her only priority is to get independence for [Scotland]. And she only wants that so she can call herself Prime Minister or President or Top Dog or whatever!”
FAKE: Daniel Turner-Price is wary of the SNP’s motives
Married couple Mary and Simon Robson are both fundamentally opposed to the SNP’s influence, although they were quick to admit that that may be influenced by their strong Tory allegiance.
Mary, a 48-year-old lawyer, said: “It makes no sense that Nicola Sturgeon was on the Leaders Debates but then the Scottish Debate wasn’t even on English TV, it just isn’t fair. It’s one rule for one and another rule for another.”
Her husband, a 54-year-old retired police officer, was particularly animated in the expression of his viewpoint.
He said: “I could vote Conservative, they could be the biggest party in Britain, yet there could be a Labour Prime Minister because that’s what the SNP and Scotland want.
“It’s ridiculous. Cameron is far more competent than Miliband but because the Scots are feeling particularly Scottish, Miss Sturgeon could burgle Miliband into no.10 – it doesn’t bear thinking about!”
OPPOSED: Mary and Simon Robson believed it would be unfair if the SNP to decided who they went into power with
Image courtesy of BBC, with thanks.