Page last updated at 10:42 GMT, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 11:42 UK

Salmond urges voters to 'achieve a balanced parliament'

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SNP launches election manifesto

Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond has urged electors in Scotland to vote SNP and achieve a "balanced parliament" on 6 May.

His plea came during the party's manifesto launch in Glasgow.

Mr Salmond said majority Labour and Conservative governments had done little for the people of Scotland.

Scotland's first minister also dismissed the Lib Dems, the Tories and Labour, saying all three had a clear "cuts agenda".

ELSEWHERE IN THE ELECTION

Before Mr Salmond addressed the gathering they heard from Glasgow East by-election winner John Mason, who is standing as an SNP candidate again in that seat.

He continued with the theme of the past week when he asked voters to back SNP "champions".

Deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon also took to the podium and wished Mr Mason and the other candidates good luck on polling day.

Ms Sturgeon pledged that the party would get rid of Trident and commit further to free-personal care for the elderly.

The SNP said it was hopeful of returning 20 MPs in the election.

Mr Salmond said that the prospects of a hung parliament had become "increasingly likely".

He added: "The thought causes panic in the Labour and Tory ranks.

SNP activists carrying saltires
SNP activists have been on the campaign trail

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"But it is a development that is welcome here in Scotland and one which we embrace enthusiastically.

"For it is with a balanced parliament that Scotland's greatest opportunity exists - the more SNP MPs, the stronger Scotland's hand will be."

Mr Salmond said he believed that a vote for the SNP was a vote for maximum influence for Scotland.

The party's manifesto contains pledges to protect initiatives such as free personal care, concessionary travel, the SNP government's £1.25bn investment in new schools and the Forth Replacement Crossing.

The manifesto also details policies which will see greater "fairness for families" by proposing that pensions and the minimum wage should rise in line with earnings.

In addition, the party backs the extension of paternity leave and has proposed more support for ex-servicemen and women by calling for the introduction of a Scottish Veterans Card.

The party also proposes to axe the multi-million pound replacement for Trident and create 60,000 green jobs in Scotland by the end of the decade.

'Window of opportunity'

It believes that the country needs to be part of the first stage of high-speed rail and that the proposed increase in National Insurance should be halted in order to protect 10,000 Scottish jobs.

Mr Salmond said: "Running through this manifesto is the SNP vision of a new future for Scotland. A Scotland that is independent, socially just and economically secure.

"The real alternative to the discredited Westminster system is a fresh, independent future for our nation. And our MPs will work to make sure the people of Scotland can choose this future in a referendum.

"Our nation deserves more than a decade of dismal cuts - a decade of wasted opportunities and lost hope.

"A window of opportunity is emerging for Scotland. And it is an opportunity our nation can seize by voting for more than just a politician."



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