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Viking spirit

Brian Taylor | 16:32 UK time, Wednesday, 21 April 2010

There was a definite Viking glint about Tavish Scott as he bounded aboard the good ship Calatria, berthed beneath the sunshine on Leith.

His buddy, Alistair Carmichael, who hopes to be returned as an island MP, also seemed to be adopting something of a shipboard sway - although that could just be the exigencies of campaigning.

The wicked media, of course, were ready with droll advice. There was much cheeky talk of the Vital Spark.

I'm not sure, but I think that one of my colleagues indulged in a few bars from Captain Pugwash.

Myself, I rather enjoyed the wee trip, seeing the distaff side of the Royal Yacht Britannia, glancing at the apartments where the shipyard used to be.

It was all designed to highlight the LibDems' notion that Scotland is placed to gain thousands of jobs from marine renewable energy and the construction contracts therewith.

Back on dry land, the party faced a few awkward questions about its policy regarding VAT on housing.

Housing industry

Interviewed for BBC Radio Scotland, Mr Scott denied that there were any changes to VAT at all.

This changed. Mr Carmichael said that the overall burden on the housing industry would not change.

But it would be reprofiled to "even out" the tax.

That is, cutting the cost on repairs, levying the tax on new build. Not surprisingly, the construction industry is less than impressed.

But the LibDems say that evidence from elsewhere is that the combined impact on the industry is positive.

More generally, the LibDems say they have a fully costed programme for realistic cuts in public expenditure allied to reformed taxation designed to stimulate growth and help the low paid.

For Scotland, they say that their plans would take 500,000 low earners and pensioners out of income tax altogether.

Still on tax, they're enthusiastic about early action to implement the Calman package, including fiscal powers.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Comedian, actor and celebrity runner Eddie Izzard joined the Labour campaign in Scotland, urging young people to vote on 6 May.

SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond set out a five-point plan for supporting pensioners and the Tories' Scottish leader, Annabel Goldie, hit out at the Lib Dems' VAT policies.


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