First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will today set out that SNP MPs will push the UK Government to fund 100,000 affordable homes across the UK per year as part of the party’s opposition to austerity.
Stopping further cuts and increasing investment in housing will not only provide more affordable homes for those who need them – it will also support at least 6,500 jobs in the Scottish construction sector.
In government in Scotland, the SNP is on track to deliver our target of 30,000 affordable homes by the end of the next Parliament. More capital investment from the UK Government will not only help build more homes in Scotland – it will also boost funding across the UK.
SNP MPs at Westminster will also seek investment in transport infrastructure – calling for Scotland to be connected to HS2 as a priority – and more rapid roll out of superfast broadband and 4G across Scotland to enable wider and more affordable internet access across the country.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Making sure more people have the opportunity to live in high quality, affordable housing is such an important part of making life better for many across Scotland.
“Continued austerity from Labour or the Tories will continue to harm the economy and prevent the investment in housing that the whole of the UK requires.
“In Scotland we have shown that investment in affordable housing can keep costs down, create jobs and importantly help people to live better lives.
“With 24,000 affordable homes built by this SNP government so far, we are on track to meet our target to build 30,000 by the end of this Scottish Parliament.
“SNP MPs at Westminster will push for a funding boost for affordable housing from the UK Government to help build more homes – in Scotland and across the UK.
“Specifically, we will call for the UK Government to put in place a new target to build 100,000 affordable homes each and every year.
"This will help grow the Scottish house building industry supporting around 6,500 jobs, economic growth and much needed quality housing across the country - and will go help undo at least some of the damage of Westminster cuts to Scotland's capital budget.
“SNP MPs at Westminster will also seek investment in transport infrastructure, calling for Scotland to be connected to HS2 as a priority – and more rapid roll out of superfast broadband and 4G across Scotland to enable wider and more affordable internet access across the country.
“For as long as Scotland is part of the Westminster system, we have a shared interest in making it work for the better – for the many rather than the few. Securing further investment in and a target for affordable housing across the UK is another example of how we can bring about the change we seek.”
Scottish National Party leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon published the SNP manifesto for the General Election, pledging that a team of SNP MPs would be stronger for Scotland - and deliver progressive politics for the whole UK.
The SNP General Election 2015 manifesto includes the following commitments:
* The SNP are the only party offering an alternative to the Westminster cuts agenda. Our proposal for a modest spending increase of 0.5 per cent a year will enable at least £140 billion extra investment in the economy and public services.
* For the NHS this will mean an additional £9.5 billion spending above inflation across the UK by 2020/21 - £24 billion in total. This will deliver a total increase for NHS Scotland of £2 billion.
* We will back plans for an annual UK target of 100,000 affordable homes, and use additional capital investment to deliver a further expansion of house-building in Scotland.
* We will back an increase in the minimum wage to £8.70 by 2020.
* We will back the restoration of the 50p top income tax rate for those earning over £150,000.
* We will support an increase in the Employment Allowance from £2,000 per business per year to £6,000, to help smaller firms take on and retain additional staff.
* We will oppose the £3 billion cut in disability support that threatens to cut the income of a million disabled people by more than £1,000 a year.
* We will vote the retain the triple lock on pensions and protect the winter fuel allowance.
Ms Sturgeon said that ending austerity is the SNP's number one priority in this election:
"This is a manifesto to make Scotland stronger at Westminster. The pledge I make to the Scottish people is this. If you vote SNP on 7 May, we will make your voice heard more loudly and clearly than it has ever been heard before at Westminster.
"But I also want to make a pledge today to people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
"We will seek to make common cause and build alliances with others of like mind across the UK to deliver the progressive change that so many want to see.
"The manifesto we publish today sets out our priorities for progressive change. It is a manifesto, above all else, to end austerity. That will be our number one priority.
"When a policy is failing, it is time to change it.
"That is why we are putting forward a clear alternative to the further spending cuts proposed by the Tories and Labour.
"We want to see modest spending increases - the equivalent of increasing departmental spending by 0.5 per cent above inflation - in each year of the next parliament.
"Under our proposal, the deficit and the national debt would still fall each year. But a slightly slower path to eliminating the deficit completely will still allow at least £140 billion extra to be invested in infrastructure and support for business, in protecting our public services, and in policies that will help to lift people out of poverty.
"We will also back fair proposals to raise extra revenue. It's right that those with the broadest shoulders pay a little bit more. That's why we will back the restoration of the 50p tax rate for the highest earners, a mansion tax, and a bankers' bonus tax.
"We will seek to build an alliance in the House of Commons against the renewal of Trident, and we will vote for the £100 billion that would be saved to be invested instead in education, childcare and the NHS.
"We will vote for an increase in health spending across the UK of £24 billion by 2020/21 - £9.5 billion above inflation. That will deliver a total increase to the budget of NHS Scotland of £2 billion by 2020/21 - and it will ensure that our NHS enters the next decade fully equipped for the challenges it faces.
"I also give a commitment today that SNP MPs - in order to protect Scotland's budget - will vote against any further privatisation of the NHS in England and we will back any moves to restore it to a fully public service.
"The SNP will always support independence - but this election is not about independence. It is about making Scotland stronger.
"So we will use the influence of SNP votes at Westminster to ensure that the promises made during the referendum are delivered. We will demand that the proposals of the Smith Commission are delivered quickly and in full, and we will oppose any effort to undermine devolution.
"We will seek agreement that the Scottish Parliament should move to full financial responsibility. And as part of a phased transition, we will prioritise early devolution of powers over employment policy, including the minimum wage, welfare, business taxes, national insurance and equality policy - the powers we need here in Scotland to create jobs, grow revenues and lift people out of poverty.
"This is a manifesto bursting with ideas and ambition.
"A vote for this SNP manifesto on May 7th will make Scotland's voice heard at Westminster more strongly than it has ever been before. And a stronger voice for Scotland will mean new, better and more progressive politics at Westminster - for everyone."
Commenting on the launch of Labour's UK manifesto today, Scottish National Party leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon seized upon the Westminster Labour leadership correcting Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy's bogus claims that there would not be cuts in Scotland under Labour.
Both party leader Ed Miliband and shadow chancellor Ed Balls have said their would be cuts when Mr Murphy's claims were put to them, and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said on the BBC Daily Politics: "The leader of the Scottish Labour Party will not be in charge of the UK budget."
Ms Sturgeon said:
"The truth is out about Labour spending cuts. Jim Murphy's false claims in the TV debates have been rubbished by his own party bosses at Westminster, who have hung him out to dry.
"Labour would impose swingeing spending cuts on Scotland and the rest of the UK, carrying on with austerity where the Tories left off - that is the core aspect of the manifesto they have published. It sweeps away Jim Murphy's pretence, and leaves him devoid of any credibility in this campaign.
"Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Chuka Umunna have just confirmed that Labour in Scotland continue to be no more than a branch office of Westminster Labour. That is why so many voters in Scotland are moving away from Labour and choosing the SNP, and we will continue to work hard to earn people's trust.
"The cuts being proposed by Labour, the Tories and Lib Dems are a huge threat to the public services we all hold dear. That is exactly why we need a big group of SNP MPs in the next House of Commons to achieve real change and an end to austerity - our pledge is to be a strong voice for Scotland, and use our clout to help deliver progressive politics across the UK."
Ms Sturgeon further commented on the two brief paragraphs in the Labour manifesto dealing with additional powers for Scotland:
"New powers for Scotland rated just two brief paragraphs in Labour's manifesto, and six words by Ed Miliband at the launch - which confirms how low down Scotland is in the priorities of all the Westminster parties. Scotland needs the extensive new powers we were promised during the referendum in the Vow - financial powers to grow our economy, and welfare powers to build a fairer society. And it is abundantly clear that the only way this will happen is if Scotland elects a big team of SNP MPs on 7 May."
The Scottish National Party commented on reports that Labour candidate for Renfrewshire South and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander has deleted his tweet promoting a false story in the Daily Telegraph that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the French Ambassador she preferred David Cameron as Prime Minister - as recorded in a memo written by a UK Government official.
Despite the First Minister, France's Consul General and a spokesperson for France's Ambassador to the UK all making it clear within two hours of the story breaking that the memo's claims were false, Labour figures including Ed Miliband continued to promote the untrue story.
While some Labour politicians such as Malcolm Chisholm made clear that he was “appalled by Daily Telegraph”, Jim Murphy refused to say when asked at the weekend whether he was embarrassed about leaping on the memo after it was shown to be false.
SNP General Election campaign coordinator Angus Robertson said:
“Labour are paying the price for jumping on the dirty tricks bandwagon - their rush to leap upon this bogus story has backfired badly on them, which is the only reason why Douglas Alexander would be trying to alter the record.
“Jim Murphy refused to say whether he regrets Labour's actions, but now Douglas Alexander is busy deleting his tweets - they are in disarray, and it serves them right for believing pro-Tory newspapers.
"This sorry episode shows just how far removed from their roots Labour have become, and how panicked they are by strong SNP support."