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Liberal Democrats 'fairness' pledge with manifesto

By Felicity Spector

Updated on 14 April 2010

Promising to "hard-wire fairness" into British society, as well as a £700 tax giveaway for most UK taxpayers, Nick Clegg unveils the Liberal Democrat manifesto.

Nick Clegg at the Manifesto Launch (Credit: Reuters)

The party's 103-page manifesto promises fairer taxes, more chances for children, a fairer and greener economy, and to clean up politics.

At the launch in the City of London, Mr Clegg accused the other parties of "kidding people' about what he called the 'big black hole in the public finances".

Mr Clegg promised to "take power away from those who hoard it, to challenge vested interests, to break down privilege, to clear out the bottlenecks in our society that block opportunity".

The Liberal Democrats manifesto sets out four main pledges: a promise for "fair taxes" - including raising the income tax threshold to £10,000.

Reform of the education system, with smaller class sizes and more help for struggling students.

Reform of the banking system, and a promise of "honesty" about the "tough choices" needed to cut the deficit.

The party has also promised constitutional change. Mr Clegg pledged new powers to sack MPs and introduce an elected House of Lords.

For more coverage of Vote 2010
- Vote 2010 – latest stories
- Vote 2010: today's election barometer
- Vote 2010: where the parties stand

The Lib Dem leader insisted everything in his policy programme was fully costed - claiming it was the first time any party had provided such comprehensive figures to back it up.

Among his proposed £15 billion in savings - cuts in tax credits, child trust funds and winter fuel payments to pensioners - as well as closing tax loopholes and avoidance.

The party would also introduce a new "mansion tax" on houses worth over £2m.

Mr Clegg claimed these savings meant the party could keep its promises to phase out tuition fees, raise pensions in line with earnings, and give pay rises to the lowest-ranking members of the armed forces.

"If you want promises you can trust", he declared, "this is a manifesto for you."

Blog: political editor Gary Gibbon
Does it all add up to honesty? It's true they are talking about bad times ahead a bit more than the other two, but when I asked Nick Clegg if we get "less from less" not "more from less" as David Cameron promised yesterday, the Liberal Democrat leader wouldn't go there.

And do their efficiencies and cuts really get you enough to raise allowances to £10,000 and pay off huge chunks of the debt? Do the poorest really get that much from the new £10,000 allowance when lower earners lose so much in benefits?

Rival parties have questioned how the Lib Dems will be able to pay for their tax proposals.

Critics have questioned the party's claim that up to £4bn could be raised by clamping down on tax avoidance.

Questioned about what the Liberal Democrats stance would be if there is a hung parliament, Mr Clegg declared that the party with the "biggest mandate" after the election would have a "moral right" to govern.

He described the prospect as "new territory", but declined to say whether he would co-operate with Labour or the Conservatives.

He wouldn't "start second-guessing", he said, about what might happen if there was a "hair splitting photo finish".

Reacting to the Liberal Democrat manisto, Conservative leader David Cameron said people should back his party if they wanted a more family friendly, greener and a more liberal Britain.

But he welcomed the Lib Dems pledge to reverse Labour's plan for a 1 per cent increase in National Insurance "when resources allow" - claiming it was moving towards his party's position on the issue.

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