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David Nisbet reports
"Among the pledges, promises to raise top rate income tax to 63 pence in the pound"
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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 19:04 GMT
Socialists pledge help for poor
Scottish Socialist Party manifesto launch
The SSP is standing in all 72 Scottish constituencies
The Scottish Socialist Party has launched its manifesto with a pledge to boost benefits for the poor and increase taxes for the rich.

The party, which is led by MSP Tommy Sheridan, is standing in all 72 Scottish constituencies and hopes to poll at least 100,000 votes.

A large increase in pensions and benefits, funded by higher taxes for top earners, is at the centre of the SSP's manifesto.

Mr Sheridan launched the manifesto - entitled "Scottish Socialist Party...the Party that Dares to be Different - at the Augustine United Church in Edinburgh.

Augustine United Church
The SSP manifesto had a spiritual theme

It committed the party to raising corporation tax on businesses to 52%.

He said the move would raise 25bn which would be ploughed into improving public services.

It laid down five aims including the desire to make the SSP the fifth political party in the country.

Among the pledges contained in the manifesto was a promise to raise the minimum wage to 7-an-hour and restore the link between pensions and earnings.

The manifesto promised annual 10% increases in health spending, the restoration of student grants, and a maximum working week of 35 hours and abolition of the monarchy.


The reality check we need is to question whether or not we should keep 200,000 people in poverty in Scotland

Tommy Sheridan
The party said it would replace the council tax with a local service charge, again designed to benefit the poor and target the well-off.

The SSP would also renationalise the railways and all public utilities in a programme of revived Socialist ownership.

Rivals dismissed their programme as failed, fantasy economics - but Mr Sheridan's party insisted it offers a credible Socialist alternative.

The SSP leader has freely admitted that his party will not win any seats, but it hopes to garner 100,000 votes - providing a challenge to Labour from the left in Scotland.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Mr Sheridan said the SSP is distinct from other parties who have been offering stale policies.

He denied suggestions that he is pursuing "fantasy world politics".

Robin Harper
Robin Harper: Launch of green manifesto

He said: "The reality check we need is to question whether or not we should keep 200,000 people in poverty in Scotland, whether 300,000 children should live in poverty in Scotland and whether we pay a minimum wage which is a poverty wage."

The Scottish Green Party also launched its manifesto for the general election on Thursday.

The Greens said that their main priority is the Scottish Parliament elections in 2003, where they expect to see between six and 10 Green MSPs elected.

However, the party has decided to contest a small number of seats this year to remind people how many major green issues are still under the control of the Westminster parliament.

In particular, Green candidates will highlight control of GM food and GM crops planted against local will, the failure of energy policy to get to grips with climate change, nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

They will also say that the social welfare system has failed to provide security and quality of life.

Green MSP Robin Harper said: "A strong Green vote in our target constituencies will still send a clear message to the establishment parties that people are fed up with the limited choice

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