THE RACE TO HOLYROOD; ELECTION SPECIAL Labour Political Editor Brian Lironi on How Parties Shape Up as Leaders Launch Last-Ditch Drive for Votes

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), April 29, 2007 | Go to article overview

THE RACE TO HOLYROOD; ELECTION SPECIAL Labour Political Editor Brian Lironi on How Parties Shape Up as Leaders Launch Last-Ditch Drive for Votes


HEALTH

THEY promise to cut waiting times to 18 weeks, or nine weeks for a chiropodist, physiotherapist or clinical psychologist. They will also slash charges for patients on repeat prescriptions and ban the sale of cigarettes to under-18s

EDUCATION

JACK MCCONNELL'S No.1 priority. He wants to create 100 skills academies where kids will be taught traditional trades and science academies where the brightest schoolkids will learn advanced science, and raise the school leaving age to 18.

CRIME

THEY will establish a community police team in every area in Scotland and double the number of community wardens. New York-style community justice programmes in which criminals would sweep the streets and clean up graffiti are also planned.

CONSTITUTION

LABOUR want to keep Scotland part of the United Kingdom with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The party oppose a referendum on independence.

LOCAL TAX

THEY promise to change the current council tax to create new bands at the bottom and top. They say people in the cheapest houses will pay less council tax and people in homes over pounds 1 million will pay more. They will halve then abolish water charges for pensioners.

CAMPAIGN

LABOUR say the SNP's figures do not come close to adding up and insist "the SNP don't come without independence and independence comes with a cost." Visits by Gordon Brown and Tony Blair have underlined the election's importance but overshadowed Jack McConnell.

LEADER

JACK MCCONNELL was behind Alex Salmond in opinion polls asking who would make the best First Minister but has overtaken his Nat rival after a determined and effective campaign.

PROBLEMS

MANYin the party wanted Blair to stand down to give Labour fresh impetus before the Holyrood poll. New Labour's role in the Iraq War, the Cash for Honours scandal and uncertainty over the party leadership have damaged their Holyrood campaign.

HEALTH

THE Lib Dems promise 100 new and refurbished health centres across Scotland and a greater role for small hospitals.

EDUCATION

LEADER Nicol Stephen promises a free place in a local playgroup for every two-year-old, smaller class sizes and an hour of physical activity a day for every schoolchild.

CRIME

THEY propose putting 1000 more police officers on the streets and scrapping short prison sentences in favour of tough community service punishments. Lib Dems also plan to introduce seven-year sentences for people convicted of knife crime.

CONSTITUTION

THE party oppose a referendum on independence and say they will not go into a coalition with a party that wants one. But they back giving more powers to the Scottish Parliament and want a constitutional convention to examine what extra powers it should get.

LOCAL TAX

LIKE the SNP, the Lib Dems want to replace council tax with a local income tax but they propose an even higher rate than the Nats.

CAMPAIGN

THE Lib Dems don't get the same attention as Labour and the SNP and struggle to make themselves heard.

LEADER

NICOL STEPHEN has attempted to boost his profile - the party's last TV broadcast was all about him and his family. But he is still largely unknown outside his own home.

PROBLEMS

THEY would like more attention but are still very likely to be the "kingmakers" in a coalition regardless of who comes out on top.

HEALTH

THE Tories plan a review of the controversial NHS 24 service and want to restore 24-hour cover at GP surgeries and health centres.

They also promise to give patients a choice of which hospital they have operations at and set up a system where the money follows the patient wherever they want to be treated.

EDUCATION

PARTY leader Annabel Goldie promises an Education Act which would give headteachers more powers to run their school as they see fit.

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