BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 17:03 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 18:03 UK

Alex Salmond rules out coalition deals

Alex Salmond was asked if he had been talking to other party leaders

The SNP's Alex Salmond has ruled out taking part in any coalition with the main parties in the hung parliament.

However, the party leader said he had accepted Gordon Brown's open offer of "civil service support" to look at options to form a new government.

He confirmed that he had accepted the prime minister's offer of backup to help in any possible discussions.

In a statement, Gordon Brown said he would "be willing to see any of the party leaders".

The Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy said he believed Mr Brown would be able to put together a coalition.

Speaking at a post-election press conference in Glasgow he said as the sitting PM, Mr Brown had the "constitutional and moral right" to try to form a government.

However, he conceded that if David Cameron's Tories could form a government, they would have a mandate to rule in Scotland - despite only having one MP from north of the border.

Mr Murphy added: "No-one won this election absolutely. Let's see what happens in whatever coalition talks are taking place."

Labour - 41 (no change from 2005)
Lib Dems - 11 (no change from 2005)
Scottish National Party - 6 (no change from 2005)
Conservatives - 1 (no change from 2005)

TOTAL: 59 out of 59 declared

Speaking outside the Scottish Parliament, Mr Salmond said Scotland had voted "dramatically and overwhelmingly" against a Tory government.

"We won't be forming a coalition with any of the London parties, but we will be looking at votes in the House of Commons and judging them on an issue-by-issue basis," he said.

Mr Salmond said there could be a "variety of combinations", other than a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, where the SNP and Plaid Cymru could prove to be "necessary".

Speaking earlier to Jeremy Paxman on BBC One, the SNP leader said: "Fate seems to have dealt us a mighty hand, between ourselves and Plaid Cymru.

"As I understand it, on the projections we have at the present moment, certainly there would have to be some involvement of the SNP and Plaid Cymru if you were to get and construct an alternative government scenario.

"So for that reason, I'm accepting the offer of the prime minister, on behalf of the SNP and Plaid Cymru, to have the civil service backup to have discussions to see what the possibilities are in terms of defending the interests of Scotland and Wales in this parliamentary situation."

Mr Salmond also told Jeremy Paxman he was "absolutely right" to say that there was "no possibility" of the SNP entering any pact with the Tories.

Speaking outside 10 Downing Street Gordon Brown said: "We already have in place mechanisms that will give the political parties any civil service support that they may need.

"Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg should be clearly entitled to take as much time as they feel necessary.

"For my part I should make it clear that I would be willing to see any of the party leaders."

Target seats

When Mr Salmond was asked what he was looking for in the discussions he said: "I've been through this process in 2007.

"That was in the formation that ended up in the formation of SNP minority in Scotland.

"I know exactly how you should go about this and it doesn't involve showing too much of your hand before you have the discussions."

However, Labour's David Cairns said it was a "fantasy" to suggest that Mr Salmond was involved with talks with Labour.

"The SNP were soundly rejected by the people of Scotland and Labour has not approached the SNP in any way, shape or form," he said.

The Tories failed to make a much-needed election breakthrough in Scotland, as the Labour Party's vote held up north of the border.

Labour won 41 out of 59 seats, while the Tories ended up with just one MP, David Mundell.

Elsewhere, the SNP failed to reach its 20-seat target, while the Lib Dems also fell short in key target seats.

The last Scottish seat to declare, Argyll and Bute, was held by the Liberal Democrats.

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