Independence campaigner defects to Labour claiming SNP figures want a Tory victory

Muhammad Shoaib says he is furious that some nationalists really do want David Cameron back in Downing Street

A prominent independence campaigner has defected to Labour because he is “furious” that SNP figures are secretly hoping for a Tory victory in the general election.

Muhammad Shoaib, the organiser of Asians for Independence, has resigned from the party claiming that senior nationalists in Nicola Sturgeon’s Glasgow constituency are privately backing David Cameron.

The former Pollokshields SNP branch convener shared a platform with Ms Sturgeon and the former first minister Alex Salmond during the referendum campaign and said that “nobody campaigner harder for a Yes vote”.

But he said he would now campaign for Labour in a bid to ensure that Ed Miliband is Prime Minister.

His defection comes days after the Telegraph published a confidential government memo claiming that the First Minister said she favoured Mr Cameron and is a major embarrassment for the First Minister.

She has strenuously denied saying during a private meeting with Sylvie Bermann, the French ambassador, that she would prefer a Tory win in the election and Britain’s most senior civil servant has launched a leak inquiry into how the document was seen by the Telegraph.

Ms Sturgeon has described the memo as “Whitehall dirty tricks”, and Ms Bermann also denied that Ms Sturgeon made the comment.

The new claim that SNP figures want another Conservative government comes hours before the first televised debate between the main Scottish party leaders.

Labour has repeatedly claimed that despite the public denials, senior SNP figures favour Mr Cameron in Downing Street as their best hope of pushing for another independence referendum.

Mr Shoaib, a 62-year-old businessman, told the Daily Record: “I have been a senior member of Nicola Sturgeon’s constituency for years and I am deeply saddened that many of my former colleagues in the SNP secretly hope for another Tory government.

“I have become more and more shocked that many in the SNP want to put the interests of the SNP before the interests of Scotland, and their secret hopes for a Tory government betray their true motives. I can no longer stay silent and stand idly by.

“Nobody campaigned harder for a Yes vote than I did. I led Asians for Independence and badly wanted Scotland to vote Yes. But that was last year’s vote.

“In a few weeks we will have a different vote to decide the Government and it’s a clear choice between five more years of the Tories or a jobs guarantee for young people, an £8 minimum wage and a vote to protect the NHS with Labour.”

The father-of-four added that he was backing Labour as the only party that was “big enough and strong enough to kick the Tories out”. A former Labour councillor, he moved to the SNP in 2007.

Anas Sarwar, deputy leader of Scottish Labour, said he was delighted to have the backing of such a prominent Yes campaigner and respected figure.

He added: “The revelations that the SNP secretly hope for another Tory government come as no surprise. Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants people to vote Green in England and Plaid Cymru in Wales. But we know a vote for any other party only helps the Tories win.”

Stewart Hosie, the SNP deputy leader, insisted at the weekend that his would not prefer a Tory government, saying: “This is definitely not a re-run of the referendum. This is about holding Westminster to account. Weare an anti-Tory party, we are an anti-austerity party. We have offered Ed Miliband a deal.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/11518816/Independence-campaigner-defects-to-Labour-claiming-SNP-figures-want-a-Tory-victory.html

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