Tavish Scott launches manifesto

Commenting as he launched the Scottish Liberal Democrat manifesto at a working mill in Innerleithen, party leader Tavish Scott said:

“I met a family the other night. They take home £15,000. He and his wife are worried about rising prices in the shops, standards at their kids’ school and the future of his job and their income. They asked me the killer question – what are you going to do for us? That is the question – from so many people – that has guided this manifesto.

“I am ambitious for my country. I want Scotland to move up and move forward. I want solutions that work from now, on;

  • Jobs
  • Education
  • Local Services

“And I want solutions, ambitions for Scotland’s future.

  • I want Scotland to be the most innovative and creative economy in the world.
  • For our education system to be among the very best performing in the world.
  • And for our country to be the most digitally connected in Europe.

“To drive our plans on jobs we set out today a 30-day action plan on jobs and growth; every Minister expected to have started action in 30-days.

“The Cabinet should meet through the summer to drive action:

  • To grow thousands of businesses through the lending and expertise of new Regional Development Banks across Scotland.
  • A 20:20 initiative to get Scotland’s biggest companies to help young people into work;
  • Cut business rates in new Scottish Enterprise Zones;
  • Reform on regulation and procurement.
  • New initiatives on exports and better support for small businesses.
  • 100,000 new jobs is on our agenda.

“To achieve excellence in education I simply want the brightest, best and most inspirational teachers in Scotland’s classrooms. I don’t want them lost to other careers, overseas or - worst of all – to the dole queue.

“So I want to give head teachers the space and freedom to innovate, inspire and encourage Scotland's next generation. Politicians don’t teach but they can clear away reams of paperwork and give head teachers the room to lead.

“I want to do all that and much more; to deliver reform, savings and better ways of making your public services work for you, we’ll keep services local.

“Not for us the enormous centralising agenda of all the others. Not for us a single fire and police service, costing more and cutting policemen and fire officers. Not for us a quango where your granny’s care package will be determined by Ministers and bureaucrats in Holyrood. Instead our plans cover the areas where government should be taking action:

  • On health, a new approach to target cancer;
  • On housing, extra support for first-time buyers and new action to bring Scotland’s 70,000 empty homes back into use.
  • On council tax, help aimed at those most in need, not the wealthiest. No council tax at all for the least well-off pensioners.

“I will allocate £21 million from the UK Budget consequentials this year to increase the amount of housing available to first time buyers under shared equity schemes. This will be good for people trying to buy a house and good for builders who are anxious to sell.

“I propose to allocate a further £21 million to support Scotland’s colleges and young people. Colleges are making people redundant even now. Our commitment can stop that at this election.

“My immediate plans go hand in hand with a long term approach to turning around Scotland’s fortunes.

“Because of our change to Scottish Water, keeping it in public ownership, but freeing up big money, we have a one-off opportunity, using at least £1.5 billion of new money.

“We can spend this just once. It won’t happen again.

“It’s an opportunity to invest in the long term future of Scotland: we will build an Investing in Scotland’s Future Fund.

“With that we will:

  • Commit half a billion pounds to support Scottish business that grow and create jobs;
  • A Digital economy – super-fast broadband in every part of our country;
  • A Science Nation, with almost quarter of a billion for our universities to create world beating science;
  • An Early Intervention Revolution to transform the lives of young people and secure a better future;
  • Our biggest ever proposals for Energy Saving to cut bills in homes, business and government and tackle climate change.

“This long term investment is how I change Scotland. It’s an investment in Scotland’s economy, in our people, in our future. If the other parties back my Investing in Scotland’s Future Fund then we can:

  • Create the conditions for economic growth, for jobs;
  • Begin to restore the excellence in Scottish education we really need;
  • And to keep your local services local to you.

“Immediate plans to get our economy moving; A long term investment in solutions for Scotland; By voting Liberal Democrat, people can vote positively for that change. And change is what Scotland needs.”