DCSIMG

General Election 2010: Scots voters in call for 'new politics'

SCOTTISH voters have comprehensively backed radical change in Westminster politics, with a majority favouring a coalition government.

• Who's it going to be? The three leaders after their final televised debate. Picture: Getty

The public appetite for "new politics" is also shown with people backing the introduction of proportional representation by five to one in a new Scotland on Sunday poll.

The findings will be a boost for the Lib Dems, who are set to be possible coalition partners and whose key electoral reform policy is the introduction of PR.

The poll indicated that after the excesses of the expenses scandal, most Scots want to see a new type of politics at Westminster, with 54 per cent of the sample believing it would be better to have two parties governing together in London.

Our exclusive YouGov poll of 1,520 Scots also dealt a blow to Gordon Brown's dwindling hopes of clinging on to power should Labour win the largest number of seats but come third on Thursday in terms of percentage share of the General Election vote. Twice as many people believed the party with the most votes should take power as thought the party with the most seats should form the government.

The Scottish findings came as a raft of other UK polls appeared to show that the Conservatives seem to be extending their lead over their rivals as the election looms.

The clear majority of Scots favouring PR has increased dramatically since the last survey on the issue. In 2007, a Scottish Social Attitudes poll found that 53 per cent of Scots were for electoral reform compared with 67 per cent today.

With just four campaigning days left before the election, the popularity of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg continued to soar, with 55 per cent of the sample believing he was doing a good job compared with 46 per cent in the last Scotland on Sunday poll a fortnight ago.

But Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott said: "The only poll that matters is on polling day. That is the day on which people will have the chance to vote for the fairness and change that only the Liberal Democrats offer."

Angus Robertson, the SNP's Westminster leader, said: "Public support for more than one party exercising influence at Westminster, and the introduction of a proper proportional voting system, chimes exactly with the SNP campaign, and the huge opportunities of a balanced parliament for Scotland."

A Labour spokesman said: "Labour has already set out radical plans to reform the electoral system and we propose to hold a referendum on the issue in the next parliament."

The support for a coalition may suit Alex Salmond's tactic of using his MPs to defend Scotland's interests in a hung parliament, but other aspects of the poll were less welcome for the SNP.

According to the poll, only a quarter of the public agree with its "More Nats Less Cuts" message.

Opposition to independence has hardened, with almost double the number of people saying they would vote against it than were for it.

Shadow Scottish secretary David Mundell said: "The race is on for second place, and it is the Conservatives who have the momentum going forward."

How the contenders compare on policies

Tories

Economy and tax

Immediate and deep cuts in public spending to slow growth of deficit. Will not increase NI. Will ask public sector workers to take a pay freeze while cutting inheritance tax and cutting corporation tax by 3p. Freeze on public sector recruitment. Bank of England will be main financial regulator. Will simplify tax system.

Defence

Will "stay the course" in Afghanistan, while focusing on homeland security. Committed to Trident and to more regular defence reviews. See Nato, not EU, as future partner in any conflict. Want to overhaul procurement procedures and are committed to 25% cut in MoD. Will double operational bonus for troops in Afghanistan.

Scotland

Committed to maintaining devolution settlement for another year, but have yet to outline wider strategy – minimum is implementation of most of Calman, but may give Scotland the fiscal autonomy/responsibility of "Devo Max". West Lothian question will be tackled, with Scots MPs unable to vote on English-only matters. Barnett Formula to be scrapped.

Electoral reform

Cameron has strongly restated his commitment to the first-past-the-post system but has not explicitly ruled out a deal with the Lib Dems on PR. 10% reduction in number of MPs.

Health

The English NHS budget would not only be ring-fenced under the Tories, but spending would increase. Bureaucracy costs would be cut by one third. Would tackle postcode lottery by guaranteeing access to cancer drugs.

Pensions and welfare

Will raise state pension in line with earnings. Raise state pension age to 66, starting in 2016 for men and 2020 for women. Cap public sector pensions over 50,000. Stimulate pension saving by reversing 1997 abolition of dividend tax credit for pension funds. Scrap default retirement age of 65. Protect winter fuel payment, free bus passes and TV licence.

Immigration

Will cap non-EU immigrants to bring annual number of net immigrants below 100,000. Set up border police force. English-language test for all immigrants. Will tighten student visa system.

Transport

Construction of a high-speed train network. Stop third runway at Heathrow and block plans for second runways at Stansted and Gatwick.

Crime

Cut red tape to get more English police on the beat. Give communities the power to elect an individual who will set local policing priorities.

Education

Reform England's National Curriculum and lessen emphasis on testing. Give schools more independence. Make it easier for parents to set up independently-run state schools, where schools get paid for attracting pupils, with a premium for children from poorer families. Raise entry requirements for teachers.

Enterprise

Will implement Sir James Dyson's report in full. Will create 10,000 extra university places and fund 200,000 apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships and 100,000 work pairings. No NI for first two years for new businesses.

Civil Liberties

Replace the Human Rights Act with a UK Bill of Rights. Curtail powers of entry for state officials, and introduce new protections over the use of personal data. Scrap ID cards. Reform DNA system along lines of Scottish system.

Family

Symbolic 150 tax break to married couples. Bolster Sure Start. New system of flexible parental leave so parents can share maternity leave between them or both take time off simultaneously. Free nursery care for pre-school children.

Environment

Improve flood defences. Stop expansion of air travel, promote train travel.

LibDems

Economy and tax

Start cutting only when double-dip recession no longer a threat. Simplify tax system. First 10,000 earned to be tax free. Local income tax instead of community tax. Tax relief on pensions all at basic rate so that everyone gets the same tax relief on pension contributions. Taxing capital gains at same rates as income. Minimum wage at same level for all workers over 16 (except apprentices). Public sector salaries above 200,000 to be revealed. Public sector pay rises capped at 400 for two years. Banks to be broken up into retail and commercial arms. Join the euro "when the time is right". Campaign against tax avoidance. 10% levy on bank profits. "Mansion tax" on homes over 2m. Abolish non-domiciled system within seven years. End unfair rates on loans and credit cards.

Defence

Will not recommission Trident when it becomes obsolete in 2014. Will cancel Eurofighter project. Full defence review. Will work with EU, not US. Raise forces pay to level of emergency services. Bring troops back from Afghanistan within next parliament.

Scotland

Implement Calman Commission. Address West Lothian Question through written constitution. Restore 250m of Scottish money paid to Ofgem under the fossil fuel levy. Replace Barnett Formula.

Electoral reform

Proportional representation (single transferable vote). Reduce number of MPs by 150. Fully elected second chamber. Freedom Bill to protect civil liberties. All politicians to pay full British taxes. Voting age reduced to 16. Fixed-term parliaments. Written constitution. Right for citizens to sack errant MPs. Cap electoral donations at 10,000. Register of lobbyists.

Health

Decentralise running of NHS in England. Link payments to trusts to preventative work. Cut Department of Health by 50% and abolish health quangos. Guaranteed respite relief for carers. Minimum pricing for alcohol. GPs to provide out-of-hours care. Patients will be able to register with GP of their choice.

Pensions and welfare

Complete reform of "Labour's hugely complex and unfair benefits system". Abolition of the compulsory retirement age. Boost state pension by restoring link with earnings. Cut pension tax breaks for wealthy by tax relief on pensions standardised at basic rate. Independent review to reform public sector pensions. Extend winter fuel payments to the disabled.

Immigration

Amnesty for illegal immigrants who have been in the country for ten years. Introduction of regional points-based system to direct immigrants to low unemployment areas. Asylum to be overseen by independent body. Asylum-seekers to be allowed to work while applications processed.

Transport

Cancel third runway at Heathrow and bring in stringent controls on car emissions. Limit rail fare increases to 1% a year. Road-pricing within two parliaments. Rural fuel discount.

Crime

In England, reform prisons, cancelling 1bn prison-building programme, reducing number of short sentences and making prisoners work. 3,000 more police officers on the beat. Public to appoint senior police officers and have right to sack chief constable.

Education

Scrap university tuition fees in England within six years and cut class sizes to average of 20 pupils. Invest 2.5bn to help struggling pupils. Reform school league tables.

Enterprise

Work placement scheme paying 800,000 young people 55 a week for a maximum of three months in England. Will fully meet the up-front costs of using adult apprenticeships – this cost is currently covered by the employer. Will compel banks to lend to SMEs. Local development corporations and local stock exchanges. Government subsidy for superfast broadband in regions that would otherwise be commercially unviable.

Civil Liberties

Scrapping ID cards and the next generation of biometric passports. Restore right to protest. Overhaul libel laws. Freedom Bill to regulate CCTV. Cut maximum pre-charge detention to 14 days. Allow intercept evidence in court. Remove innocent people from DNA database; scrap plans to store all e-mails.

Family

Give fathers right to time off for ante-natal appointments. Allow parents to decide how to share paternity and maternity leave; this period to be extended to 18 months "when economic circumstances allow". Extension of the right to request flexible working. Will end government payments into child trust funds.

Environment

UK Infrastructure Bank to develop green transport and energy infrastructure. Will block new nuclear and coal-fired power stations. Tax planes on basis of pollution rather than passengers. 400m refurbishment of North-East shipyards to produce wind turbines. Eco-cashback scheme where you receive 400 for one year if you replace an old boiler, install double glazing or start a micro-generation scheme.

Labour

Economy and tax

Will only introduce cuts when "recovery is secure". Bonus tax; reduced tax relief on pensions for the best off; 50p tax rate on earnings over 150,000. One penny on National Insurance from 2011. Personal Allowance will be nil for all those earning over 100,000. Will cut 26bn on overheads and efficiency savings by 2013; cap public sector pay rises to 1% until 2013. 20bn of asset sales by 2020. No stamp duty below 250,000; 5% stamp duty on houses over 1m. Minimum wage to rise in line with salaries.

Defence

Renew Trident and stay the course in Afghanistan. Cuts to come in the wake of this summer's Strategic Defence Review.

Scotland

Committed to implementing Calman report.

Electoral reform

Referendum on Alternative Vote, and move to an elected second chamber. Free vote in parliament on reducing voting age to 16. Fixed-term parliaments and written constitution. Register of lobbyists.

Health

In England, maximum of 18 weeks on a waiting list or right to go private. 20bn of efficiency savings over next four years, to be reinvested in front-line services. And 8,000 new therapists to tackle mental illness.

Pensions and welfare

The right to request flexible working for older workers, with an end to default retirement at 65. Re-establish link between state pension and earnings from 2012; help ten million people to build up savings through new Personal Pension Accounts. Reduce pensions tax relief for best off. "Tough reforms" to public sector pensions. Benefits cut at 10 months for those who refuse to join Future Jobs Fund. Will guarantee anyone who is unemployed for two years a job, with no option of life on benefits. Guarantee job or training place for young people out of work for six months, with benefit cuts if they refuse job or training. 40-a-week "Better Off In Work" guarantee.

Immigration

Control immigration through the new points-based system. Access to benefits and social housing will increasingly be reserved for British citizens and permanent residents. Stricter language tests for immigrants.

Transport

Creation of high-speed rail network. Will support third runway at Heathrow, but no expansion at other airports. 100,000 electric vehicle charging points to be created within the next parliament. Widening of M25 and extension of hard-shoulder running. No national road pricing.

Crime

In England, early action to tackle 50,000 dysfunctional families. Guaranteed maintenance of numbers of police. Asset confiscation to become "standard principle in sentencing".

Education

In England, guarantee of education until 18. 10,000 "golden handcuffs" to get best teachers into worst schools. Spending will not rise as fast as previously; 950m to be saved through "collaboration", 500m to be saved by quangos and central budgets. 200 more academies. 3R guarantee that every child who falls behind in core skills will get one-to-one tuition. Funding for universities to take 20,000 more students.

Enterprise

4bn UK Finance For Growth Fund to channel money to start-ups; Growth Capital Fund to extend loans of 2-10m to SMEs; Innovation Investment Fund to help high-tech companies. Creation of a Small Business Credit Adjudicator with power to force banks to lend to SMEs. 1bn to provide blanket superfast broadband coverage within seven years. 250,000 apprentice places.

Civil Liberties

ID Cards to go ahead. DNA profiles of those arrested but not convicted to be kept for six years. More CCTV cameras. 96,000 prison places by 2016.

Family

More help for parents to balance work and family life, with a "Father's Month" of paid leave. Childcare vouchers will be retained, all families will receive income tax relief at basic rate. Child Tax Credit will be increased by 4 a week for families with children aged one and two from 2012. Will protect child trust fund. Expand nursery places for two-year-olds and 15 free hours a week for three and four-year-olds.

Environment

Creation of 1bn green investment bank. 100,000 charging points for electric vehicles. Commitment to make all new houses zero-carbon by 2016. 40% low carbon electricity by 2020.

SNP

Economy and tax

The SNP's position is that there should be no cuts in public service, with the deficit addressed through savings and stimulating economic growth. It will, however, introduce money-saving measures such as a 25% reduction in quangos, saving 40m; 50% reduction in Scottish Government advertising and a 5% reduction in administrative costs. Opposes rise in National Insurance. Lower corporation tax if fiscal autonomy is forthcoming. Further acceleration of capital spending; Scottish Government to be given ability to borrow money for capital projects. Creation of a Post Office Bank. International Bank Tax. Oppose UK plans for CAP reform by removing First Pillar funding.

Defence

Immediate scrapping of Trident. Scottish Centre for Reconciliation and Conflict Resolution to promote peaceful alternatives to armed conflict. A proportional amount of defence spending to be spent in Scotland, with a proportional number of soldiers based in Scotland. Restoration of Scotland's historic infantry regiments, which were amalgamated in 2006. Scottish units based as near home as practical. Review of UK strategy in Afghanistan, with withdrawal an explicit option. Fleet to be based at Faslane.

Scotland

Independence referendum, with "an opportunity during the Bill process for one or more of the opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament to bring forward a proposal for further devolution to be included in the referendum". Social union with England rather than political union, so share the same Queen and currency, while status as EU members means open borders, shared rights and free trade. Will pressure Westminster to provide fiscal autonomy. Independent appeals process to allow appeals against the Barnett Formula. 150m to fund the Commonwealth Games to come from the Lottery (on same basis that Olympics were funded). Opposes EU's Common Fisheries Policy.

Electoral reform

Abolish the House of Lords. Scrap Scotland Office. No coalition, instead working with Plaid Cymru on an issue-by-issue basis to extract concessions.

Health

1bn of new community health facilities through Scottish Futures Trust. 840m new Southern General hospital in Glasgow. Patients Rights Bill to give guaranteed waiting times. Prescription charges to be abolished in 2011. Legislation to restrict cigarette displays and remove vending machines. Minimum alcohol pricing.

Pensions and welfare

Pensions to rise in line with earnings. Guarantee on free personal care and concessionary travel.

Immigration

Scotland to take control of immigration, with an "earned citizenship" system similar to Canada or Australia to attract high-skilled immigrants.

Transport

Fair fuel regulator to reduce fuel prices. Scotland to be part of the first phase of the high-speed train network.

Crime

More police officers. Continued efforts to ensure longer sentences for knife crime.

Education

Scottish students to get new financial support with a 30m package to increase their income through grants and loans. No tuition fees or top-up loans. Will oppose any changes to English fees that will have a knock-on effect through the Barnett Formula. 16+ Learning Choices to offer a place of learning to all 16-year-old school leavers. Aims to reduce class sizes to 18 or less in P1 to P3. Planned 1.25bn investment in new and refurbished schools.

Enterprises

Will compel banks to lend to more SMEs. Creation of 20,000 apprenticeships. 10m Saltire prize for marine renewables, 12m fund for R&D. 1.5bn rural development programme.

Civil Liberties

Scrap ID cards. Will oppose plans to scrap the Human Rights Act. End practice of holding the children of asylum seekers in detention centres.

Family

Extend paternity leave. Universal childcare support. Will increase hours of free nursery provision.

Environment

60,000 new green jobs by 2020. Tax derogation on solid fuel for the Highlands and islands. Pressure to remove obstacles to further investment in wave tidal and wind generation by ending the transmission charging regime. Plan to harness 11gW of offshore wind capacity by 2020. No new nuclear power stations.

 
 
 

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