Day two of the official election campaign period has again been a busy one, with an upward revision of the UK’s economic growth announced this morning and more details emerging of parties’ manifesto pledges. Here’s a look at the main talking points from the campaigns so far:
Employment has been the Conservatives’ key issue during the early stages of campaigning. The party have promised a further two million jobs by the end of the next parliament, to a level that David Cameron believed would effectively represent ‘full employment’. A first party political broadcast yesterday evening placed heavy emphasis on family values and planning for the future, while the party elsewhere proposed that an extra £8bn would be available for the NHS through efficiency savings.
Ed Miliband has promised to return Britain to a leading role within a reformer European Union, but that Labour would not threaten the country’s relationship with the continent. The party’s manifesto has pledged to cut and freeze business rates for small companies, which would be achieved by maintaining corporation tax at its current level, while plans remain in place to increase the top rate of tax and to introduce a mansion tax.
Nick Clegg outlined his plans to increase spending on mental health issues by £3.5bn, as part of a wider £8bn for the NHS until 2020. Clegg reiterated his belief that the Liberal Democrats offered a safe alternative to plans from the Conservatives to continue budget cuts and Labour to borrow more, while he also reaffirmed the party’s desire to remain in the EU.
Speaking in Dover this morning, Nigel Farage unveiled another campaign ad for UKIP, which centred around immigration. Citing the issue as the party’s main focus ahead of the election, Farage pointed to a broken promise from the Conservatives since 2010 and said that his was the only party that could be trusted on immigration, insisting that levels could be cut to 30,000 a year.
In an initial statement, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said that her party offered a ‘message of hope’ to the electorate. Ms Bennett has promised to return the NHS to a public-only state, in addition to previous pledges to increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour and the building of 500,000 social rented homes.
Nicola Sturgeon insisted today that the general election would give Scotland a louder voice in Westminster and that her party would not vote in favour of any renewal or spending towards the renewal of Trident, while also reiterating the party’s line of ending austerity cuts.
With the launch of her party’s manifesto, Leanne Wood announced a raft of initiatives that would be of direct benefit to Wales – with more doctors, a transfer of criminal justice powers and funding and powers similar to Scotland’s – as well as wider pledges including the scrapping of the bedroom tax and a living wage for employees by the end of the next parliament.