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Political Editor Brian Taylor
"According to Mr Swinney, Westminster still has huge power over Scotland"
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SNP Leader John Swinney
"We have always been trusted to fight for Scotland"
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The BBC's Andrew Cassell
"The SNP claim there'll be a major squeeze on Scotland's share of public spending after the election"
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BBC Scotland's Gillian Sharpe reports
"There has been a striking difference in the SNP campaign so far"
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Saturday, 19 May, 2001, 21:01 GMT
SNP pledges fuel cut
SNP poster
The SNP's campaign message is 10p off a gallon
The Scottish National Party has pledged to bring fuel tax in line with the European average.

The party, which launched its manifesto on Friday, was promoting its pledge to cut fuel tax by 10p a gallon.

Transport spokesman Bruce Crawford said: "It is absurd that motorists in oil-rich Scotland are forced to pay the highest fuel prices in Europe.

"The SNP's strong campaign message is that only the SNP stand for Scotland - and sky-high fuel tax is a powerful illustration that only SNP MPs can be trusted to stand up for Scotland's interests at Westminster."

In its manifesto the SNP pledged that its candidates would strive to bring about independence as soon as possible.

The document, unveiled in Edinburgh on Friday, focused on the party's main priorities - education, health, crime and jobs.

Roads improvement

SNP Leader John Swinney said the time had come for the electorate to decide whether it wanted a party which "fought Scotland's corner," or one which followed "a London agenda at Westminster".

Mr Swinney said the party was committed to breathing fresh life into public services and pledged that an SNP government would ensure that Scottish tax revenues would stay in Scotland.

It detailed plans for a big roads improvement programme and promised no tax rises unless included in the manifesto.

Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond is the lead Westminster candidate
The SNP has reviewed its policies since John Swinney became leader last year.

Independence has been presented as the key to unlocking Scotland's future prosperity.

Party leaders said an SNP government would carry out a review of the tax system to make it simpler and more honest.

The manifesto condemned what it terms stealth taxes - and promised to tell people how much hidden taxes they were paying.

On health, the SNP said that it would set up a national health care commission, recruit 1,500 extra nurses and freeze prescription charges.

Rising crime

Hospital waiting times would be cut by half - but there was no commitment on waiting lists.

The M8 and the A9 would be among several major roads to be upgraded - and Scotland's railways could be renationalised.

The manifesto suggested measures to tackle rising crime - by cutting courtroom bureaucracy and making penalties a real disincentive.

It called for a compensation order or fixed penalties for the parents of children who vandalise property.

With a stronger voice in Westminster we can start creating a better Scotland now

SNP Leader John Swinney
Mr Swinney said: "We have always been trusted to fight for the Scottish interest and that's why an SNP vote in the Westminster election next month is so important.

"With a stronger voice in Westminster we can start creating a better Scotland now. The more SNP MPs we have at Westminster the more Scotland's voice will be heard and our influence will be greater.

"It'll also mean we can support measures when they make sense, and fight them tooth and nail when they will cause us damage."

The SNP leader said it was important Scotland made its own decisions to allow it to function as an independent nation within modern Europe.

"We want to create a just, caring and enterprising society by releasing Scotland's full potential as an independent nation in the mainstream of modern Europe," Mr Swinney said.

"By taking decisions ourselves, instead of leaving it up to London, we can transform the life chances of our children. We can have a health service of which we can be proud. And we can create a safer, more secure Scotland."


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