A Vote of No Confidence in SNP? Bring It on, Wendy; War-Footing: Wendy Alexander Full of Confidence: Alex Salmond

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Byline: Stuart Nicolson

WENDY ALEXANDER was last night challenged to 'bring it on' following herthreat to force Alex Salmond into fresh Holyrood elections.

The Scottish Labour leader warned she would be prepared to bring a vote of noconfidence in the SNP administration over its local income tax plans.

That would see Mr Salmond's administration fall if it was defeated, sparkingthe need for him to resign as First Minister, with a fresh Scottish parliamentpoll called.

But the Nationalists welcomed the threat of another election.

The SNP said it was confident of a resounding victory, which would see theparty increase its current wafer-thin advantage over Labour.

The threat from Miss Alexander came after Labour's party conference atAviemore, in Invernessshire, at the weekend, where she tried to reassert herauthority after a bruising first six months in the job. That time has seen herengulfed in a funding scandal and claims that she is not up to the job.

She used her keynote speech to say that Labour would return to its socialistroots to combat the SNP.

She later claimed the Nationalists' grip on power was 'precarious' because itdepends on a single-seat advantage over Labour. And she warned that Labour wasready to take advantage of the tight parliamentary arithmetic to force keyvotes at Holyrood which would make the Nationalists hold to their electionpromises.

'We will use every opportunity in the parliament to get these issues peoplecare about on the agenda,' she said.

'There are areas where we intend to win a majority on the floor of parliamentand shame the SNP into doing the right thing.

'If they lose a vote of confidence on an issue like local income tax, then theywill have to go back to the people.' Local income tax is a flagship policy ofMr Salmond's administration.

It involves scrapping council tax and replacing it with a 3p in the poundincrease in the basic rate of income tax across Scotland.

Mr Salmond and his colleagues insist the proposed system is fairer than counciltax and would leave all but the richest significantly better off.

But both Labour and the Tories have combined to attack the plans, saying theyamount to an unfair burden on middle earners and working families inparticular, and would make Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK.

Any vote on the issue would be likely to see the Conservatives and MissAlexander's party unite against the SNP and the LibDems, who also support localincome tax. …