Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has unveiled more than 50 proposals in an election manifesto he said would “put recovery first”.
The party’s blueprint includes an “education bounce back plan“, with more in-class support and a teacher job guarantee, as well as free childcare for two-year-olds, more local health services to reduce waiting times, and ensuring 15% of new health spending goes on mental health.
There would also be national care standards for care users, and new fair pay standards for staff, a job guarantee for young people and graduate internships for small businesses, up to £5,000 on offer to retrain and “future-proof” careers, a tax cut for high streets, a target to switch one million homes to climate-friendly heating, and to move the public sector on to electric vehicles to guarantee a new charging network.
Mr Rennie, who is due to appear on our Election Hub Live broadcast from 2pm on Friday, said: “Liberal Democrats will put recovery first, not independence.
“That means an NHS recovery plan. It means a greater priority for mental health with extra counsellors, mental health first aiders and specialists for easy access near to you.
“Bounce-back support for pupils, employing more permanent teachers to cut class sizes, and extend free nursery education to all two-year olds.
“Creating more jobs and taking action on the climate with one million low-cost, low-carbon homes, a young people’s job guarantee and £5,000 training grants. That’s what you get when you put recovery first.
“After the year we have endured we must bring the country together to recover from this dreadful pandemic.
“This is not the moment to go back to the divisions of the past with another independence referendum that will divide because the recovery will require the skills and talents of everyone.”
The Scottish Lib Dems, who had five MSPs in the last parliament, say they are “optimistic” they can win new seats from the SNP in the Highlands and on every regional list.
This is a liberal offer. At our heart we want every individual to achieve their potential. Liberal Democrats will put recovery first.”
Mr Rennie, who has led the party for a decade and has been the MSP for North East Fife, said: “Just imagine what we can do. This manifesto is packed with over 50 top-line commitments.
“To cut mental health waits. Faster treatment in the NHS. Giving pupils the education they deserve to achieve their best. Creating well-paid jobs with a skilled workforce. Taking bold action to tackle climate change.
“This is a liberal offer. At our heart we want every individual to achieve their potential. Liberal Democrats will put recovery first.”