"The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity."
Liberal Democrat Values
Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for a Scottish Parliament longer and more consistently than any other party. Liberal Democrats also helped secure a fair voting system which will ensure fair representa-tion of the parties and a parliament which belongs to the whole of Scotland.
A Parliament elected by fair votes ought also to be a very different kind of Parliament from Westminster. Scotland can be liberated from the intensely confrontational style of politics that shames the House of Commons - a style which has turned away so many people from the political process. Instead, success in the Scottish Parliament will go to those politicians who practise the style of politics which Liberal Democrats have been advocating for years - politicians who are good at building up a consensus for their ideas, rather than those who are most skilled at roughing up their opponents.
A Parliament elected by fair votes also makes it very unlikely that any one party will command an overall majority. Politicians should remember that it is the people who will elect the Parliament. We will respect the voters' choice and are committed to making the Parliament work. In the likely event of no party gaining an overall majority, we will try to secure an agreement for a stable partnership government.
Our strategy therefore is to set our own distinctive policies before the electorate and point out that the more people who vote for us, the better the chance that those policies will be implemented after the election. This manifesto sets out these policies.They are firmly rooted in the Liberal Democrat belief of valuing each individual and building a society where each person is free to fulfil their potential, and where, in turn, each citizen contributes to the life of the community, particularly by showing responsibility to the community's most vulnerable members.
Scottish Liberal Democrats give priority to quality public services. We identify investment in education, from pre-school years to higher education and beyond into lifelong learning, as the key investment our nation must make. It is an investment in our young people and therefore an investment in Scotland's future.
Scottish Liberal Democrats also recognise that Scotland has a regrettably poor health record. We will steadily move towards emphasising the promotion of good health and the prevention of illness as much as treating sickness. The new Parliament also offers an opportunity to look at old problems. in new ways, cutting across departmental boundaries. We will want, for example, to tackle poor damp housing and recognise that it is as much a health policy as a housing policy.
Within the funding available we will tackle waste and re-examine priorities, so that more money can be released to improve our public services. However; if necessary, we are prepared to use the Parliament's tax-varying power. We are not a knee-jerk tax and spend party. We shall not require Scottish residents to dip into their pockets if there are adequate resources in the Parliament's purse. But if we cannot identify other means of funding essential investment, particularly targeted on education, we shall ask the Scottish people to pay an extra Ip rate of income tax.
Scottish Liberal Democrats also recognise that Scotland has a proud tradition as inventors and entrepreneurs. We are determined to renew and foster that tradition.. We shall therefore support and encourage enterprise and take steps to secure and strengthen our indigenous industrial base. In particular we want to encourage the excellence which exists in our universities, but on which, in the past, we have failed to commercialise and build.
Investment in quality public services, responsible citizenship, a nation where enterprise can flourish - these are the key themes of this manifesto. It is a manifesto to set the people of Scotland free: