By Rory Murphy
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has launched the party’s election manifesto entitled Put Recovery First.
In it he commits to put recovery first rather than another independence referendum that he believes will prevent the parliament and country from working together to get through the recovery.
The party is promising a big focus on mental health, which the party has made a big issue in the previous parliamentary term. This will involve more counsellors and specialists as well as a mental health first aider in every workplace.
The manifesto will also address the public anger with the wide poverty related attainment gap left by the SNP in education. It proposes more in-class support for children who need it, alongside more teachers on permanent contracts, as well as extending free early learning and childcare to include 2-year-olds.
The party will combine the need for economic recovery with action on climate change, pointing to commitments on renewable energy and warm homes which will be significant industries of the future and create thousands of jobs. It will convert one million homes to low cost, low carbon heating in the next ten years and give grants to help people train for new careers.
With this manifesto the party are optimistic they can win new seats from the nationalists in the Highlands and on every regional list and ensure that the next government has to focus on putting the recovery first.
Willie Rennie 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 1 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.
“Just imagine what we can do. This manifesto is packed with over fifty 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.”
Ten key policies to put the recovery first
- Education Bounce Back Plan with more in-class support and a teacher job guarantee
- Free childcare for 2-year-olds
- More local health services to reduce waiting times
- 15% of new health spending for mental health and double staff in training
- National care standards for care users, and new fair pay standards for staff
- Job guarantee for young people and graduate internships for small businesses
- Up to £5000 to retrain and future-proof your career backed by support and advice
- Tax cut for high streets to help businesses compete with online
- Switch 1 million homes to climate-friendly heating
- Switch the public sector to EVs to guarantee a new reliable charging network