Former U.K. prime minister Gordon Brown appealed to voters to shun the Scottish National Party, which polls indicate will wipe out almost all of his party’s 40 lawmakers in Scotland.
Brown was campaigning in the parliamentary district of Paisley in western Scotland on Saturday, with the May 7 general election less than two weeks away. Douglas Alexander, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, is defending the seat against the SNP’s Mhairi Black, a 20 year-old politics student.
“How will we feel the day after the election if, instead of a Labour government, we have 50 SNP MPs and a Conservative government,” Brown said in the speech, according to pre-released remarks. It would be “a betrayal in government of everything that, as Scottish patriots, many of us hold dear,” he said.
Brown, who was prime minister from 2007 to 2010, said Labour’s losses in Scotland would make a Conservative-led government more likely. He also echoed his successor David Cameron’s warnings that a large contingent of SNP lawmakers could lead to the breakup of the U.K.
A strong SNP performance “will allow nationalists to justify calling for an early but divisive bitter second referendum,” Brown said.
Alexander’s battle to be re-elected in Paisley, which he first won in 1997 and held by a 40 percent margin in 2010, is reflected in contests between SNP candidates and Labour and Liberal Democrat lawmakers across Scotland.
Alexander is one of several prominent lawmakers including Jim Murphy, the leader of Scottish Labour, and Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who may lose to the nationalists, according to polls.
Brown isn’t standing for re-election in his district of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, near Edinburgh, which he won by a 50 percent margin in 2010. That also could be lost to the SNP, according to a March poll by former Conservative party deputy chairman Michael Ashcroft.
National polls imply the SNP, which had six MPs in the last parliament, could win as many as 50 of Scotland’s 57 seats. That would make it more difficult for Labour leader Ed Miliband to win enough seats in the House of Commons to govern alone.
It could also give the SNP, which led the campaign for Scottish independence in September’s referendum, “enormous influence” in the U.K. parliament, the party’s leader Nicola Sturgeon said in an interview with The Times newspaper published Saturday.
In a separate interview published Friday, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said he would not lead his party into a coalition with Labour if it also required a deal with SNP lawmakers to survive.