Scottish Labour conference: Ed Miliband says vote SNP and risk Tory rule
Labour leader Ed Miliband has told party members in Edinburgh that if the Scottish electorate vote SNP they risk handing power to the Tories.
He said that "every one less Labour MP" made it more likely the Conservatives would be the largest party.
The speech came in the wake of polling suggesting Labour would lose nearly all of its 41 Scottish seats to the SNP at May's election.
Mr Miliband said only by voting Labour would you get a Labour government.
He argued: "The differences at this election are the widest they've been for a generation, but at the same time this election is set to be the closest for a generation.
"And I have to tell you: every vote cast for another party, including the SNP, makes that prospect of a Tory government more likely because every one less Labour MP makes it more likely the Tories will be the largest party.
"Scottish working families can't afford to take that risk; Scottish young people can't afford to take that risk; Scottish pensioners can't afford to take that risk; Scotland's health service cannot afford to take that risk."
Mr Miliband did not address what might happen in the event of a hung parliament after the election in 60 days' time.
The debate over coalition deals has arisen because polling suggests neither Labour nor the Conservatives would gain an overall majority.
If that is the case a coalition deal with smaller parties could be possible or a so-called "confidence and supply" arrangement could be agreed whereby the smaller party supports the larger party in key votes.
Mr Miliband's speech focused on the risks of returning Conservative leader David Cameron back to Downing Street.
Ahead of the one-day Scottish Labour conference, the party's Scottish leader Jim Murphy dismissed the views of former Tory chairman Lord Baker who believed there may need to be a Conservative-Labour post-election to keep the SNP from having a key role at Westminster.
The East Renfrewshire MP said: "We don't need lessons from Tory dinosaurs about how to run Scotland, what a ludicrous idea."
Mr Murphy insisted that the best way forward was for Scotland's electorate to vote for their Labour candidate.
That was a theme echoed by Mr Miliband.
He told the audience: "If you want to see the end of the Tory government, the only way to make it happen is to vote Labour on May 7th.
"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.
"The stakes are so high at this election.
"Scottish working families can't afford to take the risk of a Tory government. Scottish young people can't afford to take the risk. Scottish pensioners can't afford to take the risk.
"Scotland's health service can't afford to take the risk. Scotland can't afford to take that risk."
Mr Miliband acknowledged that he and his party had a "fight like we haven't faced before".
He added that voters had a choice between two visions - that put by the Conservative Party and that put by the Labour Party.
Mr Miliband said Labour would make a difference, including;
- raising the minimum wage to more than £8 an hour
- banning the "exploitation" of zero hours contracts and "legislate to say that if you do regular hours you get a regular contract".
- freezing energy bills until 2017 so they can "only fall and cannot rise"
- reforming banks to ensure they "work for businesses again"
- taxing bank bonuses and "put young people back to work in every part of the UK"
- and raising the basic state pension
By Brian Taylor, BBC political editor
From Ed Miliband at the Scottish Labour conference in Edinburgh, a message of contempt, change and disdain.
The contempt was aimed at the Conservatives in the UK government - with just a brief nod to the Liberal Democrats.
Mr Miliband seems to be encouraged, almost physically, by David Cameron's apparent disinclination to debate with him head to head on the telly.
His satirical reflections fell somewhat short of Swiftian bite - but they were delivered with evident verve and were well received in the hall. Plainly, he feels this is a Tory weak point and he intends to attack.
The change message was the core of his address: that Labour offered an alternative UK government and, he argued, an alternative vision too, one that addressed the concerns of the disadvantaged.
And the disdain? That was reserved for the SNP. Quite deliberately, Mr Miliband scarcely mentioned the party that forms the Scottish government and, according to the polls, looks set to take a fair number of Labour seats in Scotland.