The United Kingdom’s top two parties are both tied in the polls a week ahead of national elections on May 7, a pre-election survey has revealed.
Results published by pollster Populus show support for incumbent Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party remains stable at 33 percent while support for opposition Labour Party has dropped from 36 percent to the same figure.
Both parties have seen waning support over the years as Nigel Farage’s eurosceptic United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has emerged to become the third most popular party in the country, with 15 percent support.
The rise of UKIP has knocked the coalition partner Liberal Democrats, which has seen support drop to 9 percent, down to fourth.
Populus also suggests the Scottish National Party (SNP) will win 55 out of 59 seats in Scotland in what is expected to be the tightest election the country has seen for decades.
In the likely event of another coalition government being formed, the SNP and UKIP could play the role of “kingmaker” in the elections.
A rivalry is already brewing between the two parties, with UKIP’s Nigel Farage earlier this week accusing the SNP of being “openly racist” against the English.
“The SNP are openly racist. The anti-English hostility and the kind of language that is used about and towards English people is totally extraordinary,” Farage said while campaigning in England’s northeastern city Hartlepool.
In previous comments made to the Guardian newspaper, Farage also slammed mainstream British parties for promising to continue the “Barnett formula,” which sees 20 percent per capita more public spending in Scotland than in England, and accused the SNP of spreading “terror” in communities.
“In the terror of Scottish nationalism, the three leaders of our main parties appease the Scottish nationalists by all promising to continue the Barnett formula. We’ve just about had enough. We want a fair deal for the English,” Farage said.
SNP minister Humza Yousaf later hit back at Farage’s comments, calling them “disgraceful” and “offensive” to both the SNP and the majority of Scots.
“The SNP have been clear that we will be a positive voice for people across the UK,” Yousaf said. “All UKIP have to offer is nasty rhetoric.”
Speaking on BBC’s Newsnight programme, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said she would form an alliance with Ed Miliband’s Labour Party even if they come runner-up against incumbent Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party.
"If [the Conservatives] can't command a majority, they can't be a government," Sturgeon said, reiterating previous comments in which she said the SNP would enter a coalition with Labour if it collects enough seats in the upcoming polls.
"Even if the Tories are the largest party, if there is an anti-Tory majority, my offer to Labour is to work together to keep the Tories out."
Last September, the SNP organised a referendum for the independence of Scotland from the UK. While 44.7 percent voted “Yes,” 55.3 percent of Scots voted “No” and thus chose to stay in the United Kingdom.
Following the poll, former SNP leader Alex Salmond resigned, paving the way for Sturgeon to take over as Scotland's fifth first minister since the Scottish parliament was established in 1999.
However, a recent survey by Sky News predicts that the younger generation in Scotland may vote for the independence of the country in the future, noting Sturgeon’s election campaign has led to the belief among 55 percent of Scots that Scotland will be independent in their lifetime.