Election 2016

Parties focus Holyrood campaign on poverty and Trident

Scotland's political leaders have highlighted policies on poverty and the Trident nuclear weapons system during a day of Holyrood election campaigning.

Party leaders spoke out about how they would use the Scottish Parliament's new powers to help the poorest in society and support local businesses.


Nicola Sturgeon, SNP

Nicola Sturgeon addressed the annual meeting of the Scottish Trades Union Congress in Dundee, telling trade unionists that an SNP government would "use every power" to tackle poverty and inequality.

The SNP leader said if re-elected she would use Holyrood's new powers to make social security fairer, led by a Fairer Scotland Action Plan.

She said: "We did not argue for the new powers to use them in search of one day's headlines, we argued for them so we could address the poverty and worklessness that has lingered in some of our communities for far too long."

Ms Sturgeon also said she would reappoint an Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality - although the SNP has faced criticism for delaying its response to the findings of the last poverty advisor until after the Holyrood election.


Kezia Dugdale, Labour

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Kezia Dugdale pledged to "stop the cuts that would trap a generation in poverty" while campaigning at a foodbank in Dumbarton.

The Scottish Labour leader said the next Scottish government had "a moral duty to break from Tory austerity".

Ms Dugdale also confirmed that opposition to the Trident nuclear weapons system will be included in Labour's election manifesto.

During a BBC Scotland radio phone-in programme, Ms Dugdale said there were "very mixed views" within Scottish Labour when she took over as leader, but said this had been settled through a "healthy democratic debate" and vote at last year's party conference.


Ruth Davidson, Conservatives

Ruth Davidson underlined her ambition to be the leader of opposition at Holyrood during a speech in Perth.

The Scottish Conservative leader said the SNP were "a long way in front" in polls, and said her "realistic approach" was to "provide the strong opposition our country needs".

Ms Davidson also attacked Ms Dugdale's "bizarre" position on Trident, saying the Labour leader did not believe in her own policies.

She said: "Nothing shows the mess the current Labour party finds itself in more than its tortuous position on our national defence."


Willie Rennie, Lib Dems

Willie Rennie voiced his support for small businesses while visiting Buckthorns House in Upper Largo.

The Lib Dem leader helped Fife Food Ambassador Christopher Trotter cook a meal using local produce, saying his party would work to change procurement rules to boost smaller food businesses.

He said: "Our small businesses sell some of the best food and drink in the world but at present, the way that the government chooses to buy produce locks them out of public contracts that would help them grow.

"We need to end the big business comes first mentality that has characterised the SNP government."


Rise manifesto launch

The "left alliance" of Rise published its manifesto at a launch event in Glasgow.

The party has issued a challenge to other pro-independence parties to back a second referendum within the term of the next parliament.

It has also proposed a "living income" for carers, a minimum income for public sector workers, higher taxes for the rich, free public transport, and the break-up of Police Scotland.

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