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The BBC's Jonathan Beale
"This was a keynote speech by Charles Kennedy"
 real 56k

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy
"What a disappointment Labour have been"
 real 56k

Conservative party chairman Michael Ancram
"I think this was amateur economics"`
 real 28k

Sunday, 13 May, 2001, 17:23 GMT
'Freedom is key': Kennedy
Charles Kennedy
Mr Kennedy set out his party's principles
Individual liberty, social justice and honesty in its spending plans will form the basis of the Liberal Democrat election campaign, leader Charles Kennedy has said.

Speaking to party candidates in central London, Mr Kennedy mocked Labour for its "sheer abject poverty of ambition".


For me and for us, freedom is non-negotiable

Charles Kennedy
And he accused Tory leader William Hague of playing on peoples' fears.

The Lib Dem leader repeated his pledge to boost spending on public services.

'Freedom'

Setting out the principles underpinning his policies, Mr Kennedy said: "For me and for us, freedom is non-negotiable.

"It is what we stand for. It's what brought us into politics - freedom from fear and freedom from want, freedom to speak and freedom to learn, freedom to live and freedom to quite simply just be ourselves.

"That is the freedom which is at the core of our manifesto. That is a real chance for real change."

Lib Dem pledges
More hospital beds
More nurses and doctors
Free eye and dental checks
Extra secondary school teachers
Extra 5 a week on basic state pension
Promising more money for pensioners, schools and hospitals, Mr Kennedy said his party's spending plans were "open and transparent".

The Liberal Democrats are the only main party fighting the election on a pledge to raise income tax.

Increasing the basic rate by a penny would raise 3bn, it claims.

Green theme

The party's manifesto, to be launched on Tuesday, will focus on the environment as a central theme.

A senior party spokesman has revealed that each chapter of the document will detail how green practices are to be included in every policy area.

The green agenda sets the Lib Dems apart from the two larger parties, who have yet to mention the environment during campaigning, the spokesman added.

"The environment is not an issue that should simply be tacked on to other policies.

"Take housing - damp homes cause health problems such as asthma, but also have an environmental dimension because they waste fuel."

The manifesto will promise an end to "the injustice of fuel poverty" within 15 years with the introduction of a home insulation programme and other energy efficiency measures.

Emissions cut

The Lib Dems would aim to cut carbon dioxide emissions 20% by 2010 and halve them by 2040, the document will say.

While at least 10% of Britain's energy should come from renewable sources.

The manifesto will also propose breaking up the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions, a move widely expected if Labour wins a second term.

In its place would be a Department of Environment, Energy and Transport.

And business and government would have to undergo green audits.

"This package is ambitious and realistic and puts the environment at the heart of the political agenda," the spokesman said.

Tax rises

After Tuesday's launch Mr Kennedy - who took a 72-hour tour of 11 cities in the first week of campaigning - will go straight to a London school to underline his commitment to boost spending on education through tax rises.

Party aides have been heartened by their performance in the polls - around 2% higher than at the same point in the 1997 campaign - and are confident of improving on the 17% share of the overall vote that saw them take 46 seats, the spokesman said.

"Last time Paddy Ashdown concentrated on the south west and one or two others areas, but Charles has taken the campaign nationwide," he said.

"We think that we can break through in every region of Britain."

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