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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 16:27 GMT
Scottish Socialist Party manifesto: A policy summary
Scottish Socialist Party manifesto launch
The SSP is determined to secure votes in Scotland
The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) has launched its manifesto with a pledge to boost benefits for the poor and increase taxes for the rich.

Party Leader Tommy Sheridan launched the manifesto at an Edinburgh church and said a vote for the SSP would be a vote to address the mistakes made by New Labour since it entered government in 1997.

Mr Sheridan said the party did not hold lofty ambitions, and he admitted the SSP would not have any chance of winning a seat at the general election - but he did say it hoped to amass 100,000 votes.

Wealth redistribution

The party holds a core belief of wealth redistribution and pledges to eradicate inequalities that exist in Scotland. It says the main political parties have generally ignored the touchstone issues of poverty, inequality and public ownership.

The SSP pledges to introduce a 7 an hour minimum wage, a basic state pension of 150 a week and the restoration of the link between pensions and earnings.

It also wants to abolish council tax and replace it with a Scottish Service Tax which would shift the burden for local taxation onto the wealthy.

The SSP wants to restore the top rate of income tax to 63% and corporation tax to 52% - the levels they were at 1979.

It adds that restoring Corporation Tax back to its 1979 level would generate 25bn across the UK.

The party says it is committed to ending discrimination against young people on benefit entitlements, including the return of benefits "stolen" from 16 and 17- year olds.

Health

The SSP advocates the abolition of prescription charges, eye test charges and dental check-up charges.

It calls for a halt to privatisation schemes, and the bringing back into the public sector of those parts of the NHS that have already been privatised.

The party advocates annual increases in health spending in Scotland of at least 10% a year to bring the health service up to the spending level of the top European countries.

A key SSP pledge is the abolition of NHS trusts and the creation of a democratic NHS involving representatives of the medical professions, other health care workers, and local communities in the planning of healthcare.

Education

The party states that proper funding of further and higher education is required.

It says spending per student has fallen to 60% of its 1976 level in real terms. The SSP will campaign for a return back to the mid-1970s level of funding, taking into account inflation.

It advocates maximum class sizes of 20 in all primary and secondary schools and the provision of universal free school meals for all pupils in state schools.

This would cost 1.68 per pupil or 240m in total for the whole of Scotland.

Transport

SSP policy pledges include free travel for all pensioners, children and disabled people.

All fuel revenues to be ring-fenced for public transport, and a shift in the burden of fuel taxation from the motorist at the petrol pump to the oil companies.

It plans for the introduction of light rail systems in Scotland's four main cities, delivering trams every 5-10 minutes.

Housing

The party calls for the cancellation of Scotland's 4bn housing debt and the reduction of all council rents by 25 %.

And it pledges to end large scale housing stock transfers into the private and semi-private sectors.

Economy

The SSP wants an extension of public ownership to include other key sectors of the economy including North Sea oil, the big banks and financial institutions, and the major construction, transport, and manufacturing companies.

Environment

The SSP is committed to the removal of Trident, and all nuclear weapons from Scotland.

It wants an end to all nuclear dumping in Scotland and a ban on the dumping of chemicals and explosives at sea.

Drugs

The SSP would license the sale and production of cannabis for medical and personal use to break the link between soft drugs and potentially lethal drugs such as heroin.

And it advocates a shift in responsibility for drugs policy from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament.

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