Skip to main content
Where I Live
A-Z Index

BBC News

BBC Election 2005

Watch the BBC Election News
  • Election news alerts
  • Email services
  • Mobiles/PDAs
  • News for your site
Last Updated: Thursday, 14 April, 2005, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
Lib Dems 'are real alternative'
Charles Kennedy with the Lib Dems manifesto
Kennedy: Wants Iraq exit strategy
The Liberal Democrats are the "real alternative" to Labour and the Tories, leader Charles Kennedy has said, as he launched his election manifesto.

The Lib Dems say replacing council tax with a new local income tax will make 15 million households better off.

Mr Kennedy, returning after the birth of his son, also wants UK troops to leave Iraq by the end of the year.

The Tories said a vote for the Lib Dems would mean higher taxes, while Labour said the Lib Dems' sums didn't add up.

The Liberal Democrats have been the real opposition
Charles Kennedy

Taking charge again on Thursday, two days after his wife Sarah gave birth to their son Donald, Mr Kennedy said the manifesto was "based on fairness, based on opportunity".


He described the document as a "fully-costed and affordable programme to create a fair Britain".

It offered "dignity for older people, real opportunity for our children and a fair deal for families", he said.

The 20-page newspaper-style manifesto includes plans for a new 50% top tax rate on earnings over 100,000 to pay for its commitments.

Most computers will open PDF documents automatically, but you may need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader.

The party say the typical family will be 450 better off under the local income tax, with half of households paying less, 25% paying more and 25% paying the same.

They claim six million pensioners would pay no local tax at all under the plans. Most households with incomes of about 38,000 and above will probably be worse off.

But at the launch Mr Kennedy appeared confused about how much the tax would raise and who would end up paying more.

Lib Dem chairman Matthew Taylor admitted his leader had struggled to remember a figure but put it down to the new father's lack of sleep.

Free dental checks

The party also promises 21,000 extra teachers and an extra 100 a month pension for the over 75s.

There would also be a new "citizen's pension" so women would have an automatic right to a full state pension based on residence, not National Insurance contributions.

50% top rate tax on earnings over 100,000
Replace council tax with local income tax
Scrap university fees
21,000 extra teachers
100 a month pension extra for over 75s
Free eye and dental checks
10,000 extra police
20,000 community support officers
Lower class sizes
Free personal care
Scrap the Child Trust Fund
Scrap the Child Support Agency

Mr Kennedy reminded voters of Lib Dem opposition to the Iraq war. He called for a phased withdrawal of British forces by the end of this year, when the UN legal mandate expires.

He also promised an extra 10,000 police and 20,000 community support officers.

But Conservative co-chairman Liam Fox said: "If you vote for the Liberal Democrats, the message you'll be sending Mr Blair is simple - 'Carry on, please, you're doing just fine'.

"A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for higher taxes, unlimited immigration and the abolition of mandatory sentences for murder or a second serious sexual or violent crime."

Mr Blair, who made a speech claiming that Labour are now the party of wealth creation, attacked Lib Dem plans to have a 50% top rate of tax as "economically wrong".

He called the proposal "wildly unrealistic" and would, "if implemented, damage the economy".

The Lib Dems' manifesto contains much with which I fully agree
Steve Stacey, Spalding, England

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Tory leader Michael Howard pledged to ensure children of immigrants were taught to master English.

He also highlighted plans to abolish university tuition fees by charging a commercial rate of interest on student loans.

Former chat show host Robert Kilroy-Silk's Veritas party launched its manifesto with a pledge to introduce a flat rate of income tax.