DAVID CAMERON launched the Conservative Party manifesto yesterday with a commitment to ban Scottish MPs from voting on the Budget.

The Prime Minister also warned Conservative voters considering switching to Ukip that they risked the “horror” of a Labour Government supported by the SNP.

The launch saw rare consensus between SNP and Scottish Labour politicians as both Jim Murphy and Stewart Hosie criticised the plans to extend English Votes on English Legislation to financial matters.The pledge to “extend the principle of English consent to financial matters such as how spending is distributed within England and to taxation – including an English rate of income tax – when equivalent decisions have been devolved to Scotland” would, both parties agreed, bar Scottish MPs from voting on the Budget.

Jim Murphy called this a “brutal betrayal” of the Smith Commission. The Scottish Labour leader said: “This is the end of the Smith consensus. With a single sentence in their manifesto the Tories have shown how little they understand Scotland and shown again why we need to defeat them.”Murphy continued: “The Smith Agreement maintained the principle that income tax levels would continue to be determined by the UK government but now this document shows the real Tory agenda. How can you trust anything the Tories say now about protecting Scotland when they are setting out to break up the UK income tax system and with it the Barnett formula?”

SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie said that the commitment showed the Conservatives were still “hostile to Scottish interests”. Hosie said: “The Tories also plan to exclude Scottish MPs from key votes and issues which directly impact on Scotland – including our funding – demonstrating that as a party they remain deeply hostile to Scottish interests.

That is why the SNP pledge that if there are more anti-Tory MPs than Tory MPs in the next House of Commons, we will vote to lock David Cameron out of Downing Street – and again we challenge Labour to match this pledge.”It was this scenario, of a minority Labour government supported by SNP MPs, that Cameron invoked to warn traditional Conservative voters who may be considering going elsewhere: “Labour has written a very thin manifesto with very little detail,” he said. “The SNP are now going to write what I suspect will be a more detailed list which they will then try to enforce on to an Ed Miliband government.

“And here is the point of this election – if you want to stop the horror of an Ed Miliband government backed by the Scottish National Party, it’s no good voting Liberal Democrat, they could help make it happen, it’s no good voting Green, it’s no good voting Ukip.“You have to vote for the Conservative Party as the only party that can secure a majority government to keep Britain on the right track.”Cameron started the manifesto launch by re-stating his commitment to the renewal of Trident: “There’s the big choice to renew Trident,” he said, “not three submarines, but four, so it’s there 365 days a year. This is, quite simply, the ultimate insurance policy for our country.”

At the heart of the Conservative’s manifesto was extension of the right-to-buy legislation to cover housing associations. The Prime Minister said that it showed that the Conservatives were on the side of the “working people” and would allow 1.3 million housing association tenants the right to buy their home. However, the National Housing Association calculated that in reality only 220,000 housing association tenants would actually get a mortgage under this scheme.

Right to buy was recently scrapped by the Scottish Government, and the Conservative plan to extend the legislation to housing associations will not apply in Scotland.Other key pledges of the manifesto included plans to eliminate the deficit and be running a surplus by the end of the Parliament.  There were also changes to tax in the Tory proposals. 

A Conservative government would end tax for those earning minimum wage and working less than 30 hours. There would be a rise in the personal allowance for tax to £12,500, the starting salary for the 40p tax rate would increase to £50,000 and the inheritance tax threshold would be increased to £1 million.There were also promises of 30 hours of free childcare per week for working parents of three and four-year-olds, and an extra £8 billion above inflation for the NHS in England and Wales by 2020.

As expected the party also promised an in/out referendum on the EU, Responding to the manifesto on behalf of the SNP Stewart Hosie said: “On Monday, Ed Miliband devoted just two short paragraphs in his manifesto and six words to Scotland – and the Tories’ big policy idea to go beyond even Margaret Thatcher in housing policy doesn’t apply, thankfully, to Scotland. Ignoring Scotland in this way illustrates just how low down Scottish interests are in the priorities of the Westminster parties – and why we need a strong team of SNP MPs to stand up for Scotland."