First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has moved to reassure people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that they have nothing to fear from the SNP.
She spoke out after Prime Minister David Cameron said the idea of the nationalists holding sway over a weak Labour government was a “frightening prospect” because they would not care about slashing services south of the border.
But Ms Sturgeon claimed the SNP, if in a position of power within a hung Westminster parliament, would be allies and friends to people across the UK who backed “progressive change” and an end to austerity.
She said the party was not seeking to create “division” and would vote to improve the lives of everyone – a promise that would be demonstrated by voting to ensure the NHS in England remained in public hands.
Policies include ensuring the NHS remained in public hands, boost UK health spending by £24billion by 2020-21 and push for at least 100,000 new homes to be built every year.
Ms Sturgeon made the remarks at the launch of the SNP’s general election manifesto at a climbing centre outside Edinburgh yesterday.
She said ending austerity by increasing spending by 0.5% above inflation while cutting the deficit and national debt on a yearly basis would be the party’s “top priority”.
The SNP claim the UK’s deficit would still reduce each year but there would be an additional £140billion made available across the UK to invest in skills, infrastructure, the NHS and other public services.
Ms Sturgeon reiterated the SNP’s commitment to securing home rule for Scotland through ensuring Holyrood was given full financial responsibility.
She said devolving powers over employment policy, including the minimum wage, welfare, business taxes, national insurance and equality policy would be a early priority.
The first minister said the SNP wanted to make Labour “bolder and better” and would not do any deals that would put the Conservatives into power.
“This is a manifesto to make Scotland stronger at Westminster,” she added.
“If the SNP emerges from this election in a position of influence, we will exercise that influence responsibly and constructively.
“And we will exercise it in the interests of people, not just in Scotland, but across the UK.”
The SNP want to reinstate the Aeronautical Rescue Co-ordination Centre to Kinloss in Moray and ensure the west coast has an emergency tug boat.
The party has vowed to press for a better deal for farmers and fishermen and continue to support all types of renewable energy schemes.
Scottish Labour Leader Jim Murphy criticised Ms Sturgeon for refusing to rule out a second independence referendum in the manifesto despite telling voters it was a once in a lifetime issue last year.
“When you look at all the pressures in Scotland – the growing gap between the poor and the prosperous, the crisis in the NHS and the number of people stuck on zero hours contracts, then Scotland surely has higher priorities than thinking about another referendum,” he argued.
“The answer is a Labour government that will make work pay for working class families in Scotland and invest £1billion extra in our NHS to fund 1,000 more nurses and 500 more GPs.
“This is a ‘say one thing do another’ manifesto. The SNP claim to support a UK-wide mansion tax at the same time as committing to cutting Scotland off from UK-wide taxes.
“They claim that they can stop a Tory government when a vote for the SNP is the thing that David Cameron craves in Scotland.
“With full fiscal autonomy the SNP have signed up to bigger cuts than the Tories, scrapping the Barnett formula and ending the UK state pension in Scotland.
“The only way to get a Labour Government that will make life fairer for working class families in Scotland is to vote for Labour.”
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has stressed that her party would not do any deal with a movement which wants to actively break up the UK.
She pledged to stand up for the 55% of No voters who last year made it clear they did not want independence and do not want a re-run of last year’s referendum.
Ms Davidson said: “I stood in the trenches last year with a number of Labour MPs and MSPs who fought hard to keep our country together because they believed it to be worth fighting for.
“And I cannot imagine the betrayal they must feel from their own leadership to have the referendum result undermined – or perhaps even traded away – in the courtship dance we’re witnessing now.”
“My real concerns are for people here, in Scotland, for the quiet majority, who voted No to independence last year, who just want a sensible, straightforward government delivering some much needed security, but who are looking on and wondering what on earth is happening.
“We, the Scottish Conservatives, will seek to give a voice to Scotland’s silent majority.”