Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lib Dems Set out Party's Conditions for a New Coalition

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lib Dems Set out Party's Conditions for a New Coalition

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor

lIBERAL Democrat leader Nick Clegg revealed his five conditions for joining any future coalition government - including a major boost in NHS funding and cutting income tax for many workers.

And he predicted the general election on May 7 would once again result in a hung Parliament, forcing Labour or the Tories to work with at least one of the smaller parties.

Launching his party's general election manifesto, he said the five key policies on the front of the document would be his condition for joining any government.

They are: increasing the NHS budget by PS8bn a year and ensuring mental health gets the same priority as physical conditions; raising the personal allowance for |workers to PS12,500 - which the Lib Dems say is effectively a PS400 tax cut; protecting school funding and |ensuring every class has a qualified teacher; cutting the deficit with extra taxes |on the rich - such as a mansion tax - rather than simply cutting spending, and backing low-carbon manufacturing; new laws to protect the environ-|ment, encompassing a 25-year plan to protect natural habitats; the promotion of recycling and electric cars; the cutting of greenhouse gas emissions; and a tax break to energy-effi-cient homes.

The party is fighting to defend Berwick in Northumberland, where the Conservatives are challengers.

The party is also battling to hang on to Redcar, where it faces a challenge from Labour.

Mr Clegg insisted the Lib Dems had achieved the priorities they set out in their 2010 manifesto while in coalition with the Conservatives, and added: "I would not have recommended to the Liberal Democrats that we join the coalition in 2010 if our front page priorities were not included in the Coalition Agreement. And I will take the same approach this time.

"That's why we have made our top priorities crystal clear this time, too: five steps to a stronger economy and a fairer society slap bang on the front page of our manifesto. …

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