SNP launch 'Re-elect' manifesto with independence referendum vow

The party also say they will continue the council tax freeze for five years, keep education free, and protect the NHS budget.

Election battle: Manifesto launch.
© STV

The SNP has launched its election manifesto with a vow to bring forward an independence referendum during the next Parliamentary session.

Leader Alex Salmond said that the SNP would "give Scots an opportunity to decide our nation’s future". adding that opposition parties would "have no choice" but to back a referendum if the SNP were re-elected to a second term.

Pledges in the manifesto - dubbed 'Re-elect a Scottish Government working for Scotland' - also include a council tax freeze for the entirety of the next parliament, after which a consultation would be held to replace it with a "fairer system based on the ability to pay". Mr Salmond said the freeze would save families £1200 each year.

Promises to protect the NHS budget and police numbers also appear in the document, along with a commitment to keeping education free for students. Mr Salmond said: "The rocks will melt with the Sun before there are tuition fees in Scottish universities."

There is no mention of a single police force in the manifesto, but it does include a proposal for a single fire service.

Other SNP policies include plans to create 130,000 new jobs in low-carbon industries and a proposal to get 100% of Scotland's domestic energy from renewable sources by 2020. Mr Salmond said: "Scotland will engineer the 21st century just as this country once engineered the 19th century."

The party also said it will guarantee 100,000 training opportunities a year, including 25,000 apprenticeships, and invest in building new schools.

Policies the SNP failed to muster enough support for in the last Parliament are also included, including resurrected plans for minimum pricing on alcohol.

The Nationalists, seeking re-election to government on May 5, are the last of the larger parties to launch their programmes for the next Scottish Parliament, following manifestos from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.

'People's manifesto'

Mr Salmond said the policy plan was "the people's manifesto", highlighting the fact that 15,000 people were involved during the consultation period. He also praised Finance Minister John Swinney for making savings through "more efficient" government and said that the SNP's vision of a "free and independent" Scotland gave them an advantage over other parties.

Mr Salmond will also be bouyed by Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott's comments on STV's Face-to-Face that he would not rule out a coalition with the Nationalists, despite disagreement over the question of independence.

But Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray has attacked the manifesto for failing to address Scotland's unemployment problem.

He said: "No wonder the SNP kept this document hidden for so long. This is an ‘everything is fine manifesto’, but everything isn’t fine.

"Ten thousand people joined the dole queue in the last year, families are feeling the squeeze, and youth unemployment is in crisis. To the 219,000 Scots out of work and looking for a job, this manifesto offers no hope and no ideas."

Other parties criticised the SNP for not delivering on promises made in their last manifesto.

Murdo Fraser, Scottish Conservative Deputy Leader, said: “The SNP’s manifesto must be checked against delivery.

"In 2007, the SNP promised – amongst other things – to dump student debt, cut class sizes for P1 - P3 pupils to 18 or fewer, give all first time buyers a £2000 grant, give every child in every school two hours of PE a week, introduce a local income tax, hold an independence referendum and end automatic early release.

“On none of these promises have they come even close."

Liberal Democrat Campaign Chair George Lyon said: “The SNP say that they want to maintain their commitment to keep 1000 extra police officers on the street. But if they forge ahead with their flawed and dangerous plans to create a single national police force, 3000 police officers could be lost.

“With little else to offer the electorate, the SNP have had to fall back on rehashing the same old tired lines on independence, ignoring reality and instead promising the electorate that Scotland would become a mini nirvana if Scotland was to become independent.

“The SNP will always put independence before the needs of the Scottish people."

IN DETAIL

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.