Scotland Election 2016

Holyrood 2016: Lib Dems unveil manifesto

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Media captionThe manifesto was officially launched by party leader Willie Rennie in Edinburgh

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto for the Scottish Parliament election.

The party's flagship policies include increasing income tax rates by 1p to pay for a "transformation" of the education system.

The Lib Dems also want to "put democracy back into policing" and to make the NHS "fit for the future".

The party won five seats at the last election, with polls suggesting it faces a fight to increase that number.

The manifesto largely focuses on the key areas of health and education, which the Lib Dems believe have been allowed to "drift down the agenda" by the SNP, as well as civil liberties and protecting the environment.

It was unveiled by party leader Willie Rennie at a soft play centre in Edinburgh.

Mr Rennie has said he believes the Liberal Democrats are set to "grow again" when voters go to the polls on 5 May, a year after the party was left with just one MP in Scotland at the general election.

Speaking at the launch, he said: "People recognise that we are getting back to that positive, uplifting agenda that Liberal Democrats, perhaps under the leader of Charles Kennedy, adopted in the past.

"Looking for opportunity, upbeat, asking people to pay a little bit more, making sure that we are outward looking, ambitious for the country.

"I think perhaps that has been missing in recent years, and I think we are back to it now."

Image caption The manifesto sets out the party's "penny for education" proposals

The party has said increasing income tax rates by 1p for those earning more than £21,500 would raise about £500m every year, describing the move as "a small sacrifice to make a big difference".

Its figures suggest someone earning minimum wage would pay £4.17 a month less in income tax next year under its proposals, while someone earning £20,000 a year would pay 83p a month more.

Someone earning £40,000 a year would pay £17.50 a month more, and someone earning £100,000 would pay an additional £57.25 every month.

The party would use the extra money to "revolutionise" how children are educated in Scotland.

This would include giving schools thousands of pounds of additional funding through a "pupil premium" aimed at raising standards and closing the attainment gap between the wealthiest and most deprived pupils.

Nursery provision

The Lib Dems have also proposed a huge expansion in free nursery provision, and have vowed to protect council education budgets and reverse cuts to Scottish colleges.

On health, the Lib Dems have said they would transform the way mental health issues are approached in Scotland, with investment in more staff and easier access to services.

And the party has said it would end what it has described as Scotland's "GP crisis" by training, recruiting and retaining more GPs and increasing the number of support staff, including nurses, allied health professionals and counsellors.

The manifesto also includes plans for radical drug policy reform, with drug use to be treated as a health issue, as well as a presumption against short prison sentences of less than 12 months, decriminalisation of prostitution, and the repeal of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications. Act.

Mr Rennie said: "I think our agenda actually fits with the modern public mood in Scotland. I think people are much more relaxed about these issues - they see the value of a long-term plan to deal with the prison population, to deal with crime, to deal with drugs, to deal with prostitution.

"We are not reckless on these things. We want to try and help people and that's why having a longer term liberal approach to things, I think, chimes with people in Scotland now."

The Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Greens and UKIP have already launched their manifestos, with the SNP and Scottish Labour still to unveil theirs.