SENIOR Labour figures have urged Keir Starmer to put in “clear red lines” ruling out working with the SNP ahead of the next General Election.

With pollsters predicting the SNP could be vital to Starmer getting into Number 10, Labour figures say any coalition should be ruled out well ahead of a UK-wide vote – fearing the Tories could bring back the “coalition of chaos” slogan used against Ed Miliband back in 2015.

Others say a second independence referendum should be ruled out altogether, as well as the option of providing extra Scottish funding in exchange for SNP support after an election.

Starmer has already ruled out pacts with Nicola Sturgeon's party several times, repeating that there will be "no deal with the SNP going into an election, no deal with the SNP coming out of an election". However it seems Labour veterans want him to go further.

Douglas Alexander, a former Labour MP who was ousted by Mhairi Black in 2015, says his party need to act now to get ahead of Conservative attacks.

The National:

He told the Observer that he expects the Tories to rely on “cultural” topics to unite voters at the next election.

“A central part of that will probably be yet more appeals to English nationalism,” he suggested.

“Labour is in a stronger place to set out its position in relation to the SNP than it was in 2015. The SNP have long lost the momentum they enjoyed in the months following the 2014 independence referendum.

“My own instinct is that Labour can deal with the issue early by saying clearly in Scotland and across Britain that the way to get a Labour government is straightforward … vote for a Labour MP.”

Another senior party figure involved in Labour’s failed 2015 campaign added: “I would try to put in clear red lines well ahead of an election.

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“They should rule out a coalition. They should rule out a second independence referendum. The other obvious area to go is ruling out additional money for Scotland outside of the settled balance of resources within the UK. That would make quite a difference.”

Meanwhile, one suggested that ruling out working with the SNP explicitly may not be the answer – calling instead for Labour to be part of a commission focusing on the specifics of independence, as well as options for more devolution.

Accepting indyref2 is coming while showing voters detailed options rather than “abstract concepts” could allow a path to a confidence and supply motion with the SNP, a member of the 2015 Labour team said.

Tommy Sheppard MP, the SNP's constitution spokesperson at Westminster, said: "In recent days, Scottish Labour has disowned Anas Sarwar's pre-election soundbites and entered into grubby deals with the Tories in council chambers across Scotland. These are the coalitions that should be worrying Labour veterans.

"Labour has a single seat in Scotland - which says everything about the party's credibility north of the Border. The SNP continues to be focused on kicking the Tories out of power - Labour's disinterest in doing the same is telling."

In Scotland, Anas Sarwar ruled out entering formal coalitions with other parties ahead of the recent council elections. But in the aftermath of the vote, the Scottish Labour chief has found himself accused of “unpardonable acts of betrayal” following deals made with Tory council groups across the country.

Several Labour groups have formed or attempted to form minority administrations with support from Tory councillors – with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon accusing the party of working out “dirty deals” with Douglas Ross’s party.

It emerged following the May 5 local elections that Labour agreements would be signed off by party chiefs, according to a leaked memo seen by the Daily Record.

A note in the name of Scottish Labour general secretary James Kelly, dated May 5, explained there would “be flexibility around local agreements post-election”.

However, it said that Labour groups could not enter into arrangements without the “specific approval” of the party’s Scottish Executive Committee (SEC), and that an SEC subcommittee would consider every “post-election arrangement request”.