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EDITIONS
Saturday, 2 November, 2002, 12:42 GMT
Wallace delivers rallying cry
Scottish Parliament
The Holyrood elections will be held next year
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Jim Wallace has issued a rallying cry to the party ahead of next year's Holyrood elections.

He said the Lib Dems should be seeking gains across the country.

And he told delegates at the party's autumn conference in Glasgow that there should be no limit to their ambition.

Mr Wallace said regional polls in the past six months had shown the potential for the Liberal Democrats to pick up more seats in the Scottish Parliament.

Jim Wallace
Jim Wallace: "Positive approach"
"Gains on the lists from the Tories and SNP and strong challenges in Inverness, Edinburgh and Greenock to win new first-past-the-post seats - from Labour as well," said Mr Wallace.

"Our ambition should be nothing less - Liberal Democrat gains in every region of Scotland."

In an upbeat speech, he said the Lib Dems would campaign on its record of achievement, its "positive approach" and its "radical agenda".

He was speaking before a debate on the party's pre-manifesto document, which includes a call for children to start primary education a year later.

The introduction of a "transitional" year between nursery and primary school is proposed, which would mean youngsters starting school at the age of six.

College courses

Mr Wallace said: "This will build on the educational benefits offered by free pre-school places for three and four-year-olds, by developing a structured and planned educational phase that will improve children's basic skills.

"Evidence suggests that this would offer significant benefits in improving children's response to education in later years."

The document also proposes that pupils could start some college courses from the age of 14.

During his speech Mr Wallace attacked the Scottish National Party, which he described as a party of "repeated whine, whinge and moan".


Our fishing communities must be the focus of our concern

Jim Wallace
The claimed that the SNP was "languishing" in the polls - and said he could not foresee the circumstances in which it would be in a position to form a coalition government after the elections.

Mr Wallace also used his speech to voice his support for the Scottish fishing industry.

Fisheries Minister Ross Finnie, who is also a Liberal Democrat MSP, has described European Union scientists' proposals for a complete ban on cod fishing as "politically unacceptable and economically ruinous".

"Our fishing communities must be the focus of our concern," said Mr Wallace on Saturday.

"If we are to sustain these communities, wholesale closure of the fishing industry is not an option."

See also:

31 Oct 02 | Scotland
28 Oct 02 | Scotland
17 Oct 02 | Scotland
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