Scotland politics

Scottish election: Greens launch Holyrood manifesto

The Scottish Greens have launched their Holyrood election manifesto with a pledge to increase tax to counteract UK government spending cuts.

The party also said it would scrap the new Forth road bridge and Aberdeen bypass and divert the £1.8bn saved to other areas of public spending.

It also wants a land value tax to replace council tax and business rates.

The party, which had two MSPs in the last parliament, opposes fees for Scots university students studying at home.

The Scottish Greens' tax plans would see 0.5p added to the Scottish Variable Rate, or tartan tax, from 2013, on the assumption that Westminster's cuts to Scottish funding would continue throughout the next parliament.

This would, the party has argued in its Holyrood election manifesto, raise more than £200m a year, with someone earning £20,000 paying £1.20 a week more in tax, rising to £3.60 for people on salaries of £44,875.

The party said £2.6bn could be raised from the introduction of the land value tax, the tartan tax and cancellation of the Forth bridge and bypass projects. It said it would spend this money on local services.

In addition, the party said its budget priorities would be investment in public transport, affordable housing, free education and an insulation programme for Scotland's homes.

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said: "This is a crucial election.

"UK Ministers are cutting budgets for public services like there's no tomorrow, and all the other parties at Holyrood are debating how to hand those cuts on.

"All four are sticking with the council tax, which has always been unfair, and which is now no longer even under local control.

"Not one is prepared to do what it would take to challenge the ideological agenda of privatisation, service cuts for the public, and tax breaks for the better off.

"Only the Greens are offering an alternative to this failed agenda."

The Scottish Greens also want to see commitment to large-scale ecosystem restoration projects, including a dedicated peatland restoration fund.

And they want the justice system to focus on crime prevention, with mediation and restorative justice top priorities, while protecting local health services from being centralised.

The pro-independence party also want a renewed convention on devolution, with the public and civic organisations at the forefront.

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