Scotland politics

Scottish election: Labour outlines manifesto pledges

Scottish Labour has pledged to abolish youth unemployment by the end of the next parliament, if it wins power at the Scottish election on 5 May.

Leader Iain Gray said "bold" reforms would fund pledges such as creating 250,000 jobs by the end of the decade.

He said there would be 120,000 modern apprenticeships, 10,000 placements for unemployed people and a "living wage" of at least £7.15 under Labour.

Mr Gray described the manifesto as "a serious document for serious times".

He said he intended to create 250,000 jobs by the end of the decade, including up to 60,000 posts in renewables by 2015. The party also promised to double the value of exports in the next 10 years and said this would create another 10,000 jobs.

"I think Scotland needs bold and ambitious plans now and that's why we've committed ourselves to eradicating youth unemployment in the next parliament and creating 250,000 jobs by the end of the decade," Mr Gray said.

He said the party had got its costings right and the pledges would be funded in part by "the boldest reform of the public sector since devolution".

"Going from eight police forces to one, eight fire services to one, integrating social care, reducing the number of health boards - these are all significant savings," he said.

"Yes, there is some bold spending in there but there is bold reform as well, which can allow us to release resources to protect frontline services and invest in the things we need to do to create jobs and opportunities for our young people."

Labour's manifesto said it would boost education by introducing specialised literacy training for 1,000 teachers, and promised not to bring in tuition fees for university students.

Other pledges include a two-year council tax freeze, after which local councils would have to make a case for any future rises and these would be capped at below inflation, Mr Gray said.

He also promised a new national care service for older people, which would be brought in during the next parliament, and ruled out compulsory redundancies in the NHS.

On justice, Mr Gray said that under a Labour government, all knife-carriers would be jailed - although he said the cost of this policy would not be available until later.

He also vowed to protect police officer numbers and "put victims first".

The party said it would cut deposit payments on new homes under a "first foot" scheme if it won power.

Labour is the third of the four main parties in Scotland to publish its manifesto since the election campaign began on 23 March.

The launch at Clydebank College, near Glasgow, was delayed slightly because of a fire alarm at the building.

The Tories launched their manifesto on Monday and that was followed by the Liberal Democrats on Tuesday.

The SNP is expected to make its manifesto public next week.

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