Election 2015 Scotland

Election 2015: Scottish Liberal Democrat manifesto makes key pledges

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Media captionThe Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie launches his party's election manifesto saying it is a "choice between the Lib Dems and the SNP"

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto with a set of promises to voters north of the border.

They say they will cut tax; balance the budget within three years and guarantee education funding from nursery to college.

The party would also invest an additional £800m on the Scottish NHS.

The Lib Dems are the last of the four main Scottish parties to lay out their manifesto plans ahead of voters going to the polls on 7 May.

Leader Willie Rennie told a gathering in South Queensferry that his party would also:

  • extend free childcare to all two-year-olds by 2020
  • transfer power from London to Scotland, delivering more power to local communities
  • and fight climate change with five new green laws.

Mr Rennie believed that with the Lib Dems, voters would be choosing a responsible plan to build a stronger economy and a fairer society.

Key priorities

Lib Dems

Main pledges

  • Balance the budget fairly through a mixture of cuts and taxes on higher earners
  • Increase tax-free allowance to £12,500
  • Guarantee education funding from nursery to 19 with an extra £2.5bn and qualified teachers in every class
  • Invest £8bn in the NHS. Equal care for mental & physical health
  • Five new laws to protect nature and fight climate change

He said his party was standing on "a record of progress in government and vision of the future".

Mr Rennie said: "We are now closer to our ambition of creating opportunity for everyone. But with wins for the Liberal Democrat in this election we can make it a decade of opportunity."

He added that his party's offer was to create a "decade of opportunity for everyone in our country".

When questioned on whether people should vote tactically to keep the SNP out, he said: "In the 11 seats that we hold, it's very clear that if you want to stop the SNP, the Liberal Democrats are best-placed to do that.

"People will use their vote intelligently throughout the country and I would encourage them to do so."

'Not reasonable'

He added: "We're prepared to work with the SNP in other areas, and we have done so in councils and we have done it in the Scottish Parliament.

"But it would be unreasonable to put them in charge of an institution that they are against.

"You could just imagine Alex Salmond, deputy prime minister, and as soon as you have turned your back he's got his screwdriver out trying to take the country apart.

"That's not who you need in charge of the UK and we have said that is not reasonable."


ANALYSIS

By Brian Taylor, BBC Scotland's political editor

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie and candidates Jo Swinson and Michael Crokart launch their party's manifesto

It was, said Willie Rennie, a question of Kipling. No, nothing to do with cakes even although the location was a patisserie in South Queensferry.

The Kipling at issue was Rudyard of that ilk, story writer, poet and, for a spell, Rector at Scotland's oldest and finest university.

These are not particularly encouraging times for the Liberal Democrats. Polls suggest that they may be in trouble in Scotland and throughout the UK.

Despite that, Mr Rennie was unrelentingly upbeat as he launched his party's Scottish manifesto. Quoting Kipling, he said the Lib Dem attitude was "if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs".

Pedant that I am, I vaguely recollected that the verse continues "…and blaming it on you". The Lib Dems perhaps feel they have had more than their proportionate share of assigned blame of late.

Read more from Brian.....


Meanwhile, the other parties continue to campaign across the country with SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon addressing the Scottish Trade Union Congress in Ayr.

She argued that a strong team of SNP MPs elected to Westminster will always stand up for Scotland's workers.

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy addressed a street rally in Glasgow, where he said that the priority in the general election should be rebuilding the NHS, not re-running the independence referendum.

And Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, met young apprentices in Peterhead.

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