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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2007, 08:58 GMT 09:58 UK
Solidarity makes election pitch
Tommy Sheridan

The left-wing Solidarity Party has launched its first Holyrood manifesto, with pledges to scrap prescription charges and council tax.

It has also outlined plans for a carers' allowance in a bid to financially support people looking after loved ones full-time.

The party would also abolish Scottish Enterprise, bring back student grants and bring in free school meals.

Solidarity is to field candidates in every Scottish region.

The party, formed by Tommy Sheridan after his acrimonious split with the Scottish Socialists, has set out 16 key policy topics on which it would campaign if an MSP was elected in each area.

One key pledge is a ban on airguns and, although the issue is reserved to Westminster, Solidarity said it was confident it could pass a bill in Holyrood and have the powers handed to it from the UK Parliament through the Sewell mechanism.

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Other headline plans include a drug rehabilitation policy which may see the prescription of heroin under clinical supervision and a referendum on Scottish independence as well as the introduction of a carers' allowance.

Speaking on BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday, Mr Sheridan said: "The one big spending commitment that would cost us money is the idea of a carers' allowance.

"The idea of actually trying to value the carers and the work that they do, instead of taking advantage of their love for their partners or their children.

Split vote

"They save the NHS 5bn a year by doing their work, we think they should have some financial recompense for that."

When asked to comment on the differences between the SSP and Solidarity parties, Mr Sheridan said:

"It is always regretful when there is a split in the socialist allegiance, a split in the socialist vote, but there is a split in the free market vote."

"We have to have the idea and the objective of winning those who believe in socialism to Solidarity, and the way things are going we are confident that it's going to work."


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Mr Sheridan spells out his party's policies



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