The Scottish Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto for the general election hailing it as “the chance to change the direction of the country”.
Speaking at the launch, party leader Willie Rennie said:
“This is the chance to change the direction of the country and to build a brighter future.
“We can turn away from another divisive independence referendum and a damaging hard Brexit.
“Instead with a modest penny on tax we can invest in our people.
“This will get Scottish education back up to the best in the world again so that people have the skills to drive our economy.
“It will get people the mental health treatment they need so they can contribute too.
“In so many seats across the country it is a straight choice between the Liberal Democrats and the SNP.
“We can win those seats, we can change the direction of the country, we can have a brighter future.
“Votes for the Liberal Democrats will send a message to stop yet another divisive independence referendum from the nationalists.
“With the Scottish economy teetering on the edge of a recession, the performance of Scottish education dropping down the international rankings and mental health services failing to deliver, the last thing our country needs is another divisive and distracting debate.
“Brexit poses real threats to jobs, security and funding for the NHS. That's why we oppose it too.
“The manifesto is a positive programme for Scotland inside the UK.
“We are clear. No independence referendum. “Full stop”.”
The plans from the Scottish Liberal Democrats include a focus on mental health. The manifesto calls for new mental health services in every GP practice, A&E department, police division and school. The manifesto sets out a new 5-point offer on mental health for new mothers.
A penny on the income tax on dividends in Scotland will provide around £35million which the Scottish Government can use to transform mental health services.
Direct benefits for the Scottish health service include a guarantee of the rights of EU citizens in this country. This will help retain the 200 GPs whose future is under threat from Theresa May’s extreme Brexit. There are a total of more than 1,000 EU-trained doctors in the Scottish NHS.
The same guarantee extends to the rights of EU staff and students in our universities. The Scottish Government will also be able to sponsor new Post Study Work Visas. These will support Scottish universities to be the best in the world.
The manifesto restates the Liberal Democrat priority to get Scottish education back up to the best in the world again. At last year’s Holyrood election the party proposed 1p on Scottish income tax to do that.
The manifesto also proposes to:
- End the 1% pay cap in the public sector to enable the lifting of the pay for 540,000 public sector workers in Scotland.
- Keep the triple-lock for pensions.
- End to the Conservatives’ two-child rule for tax credits which will stop the ‘rape clause’ that has outraged people in Scotland.
- Exempt Police Scotland and the fire service from VAT which will give them £35million to spend on services. This adds to UK-wide policy to increase the resources available to the police.
- Initiate a major £100billion programme of capital spending across the UK, that will have a share spent in Scotland. This will be done by rejecting the extreme Conservative approach of insisting on a surplus of both revenue and capital. The party will borrow to invest in capital.
The Liberal Democrats are now the only party campaigning to stay in both the UK and EU single markets, each of which supports business and jobs in Scotland. The Conservative extreme Brexit puts at risk up to 80,000 Scottish jobs.
The manifesto proposes to give people across the UK an opportunity to reject a bad deal on Brexit.
The manifesto sets out the aim for the Liberal Democrats to be a new and strong voice of opposition that the country needs. If the country is to turn away from an extreme Brexit and a divisive independence referendum then there is only one party to do that, the Liberal Democrats.
Willie Rennie added:
“Together, the plans provide a long term, sustainable and successful Scotland, inside the UK.
“Central to this is the mounting evidence that the SNP are distracted by independence. They have taken their eye off the ball on public services. They have let down the people who voted for them.
“We will keep the pressure on them to get back to the job they were elected to do in the Scottish Parliament.
“The starting point is simple.
“It means no independence referendum. Full stop.”