General Election: Leaders’ late bid to sway voters

Edinburgh's election in numbers. 'Picture:Comp
Edinburgh's election in numbers. 'Picture:Comp
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THE party leaders have launched the final phase of the election campaign with a fresh focus on their pledges and policy “red lines”, as polls continue to show Labour and the Tories neck-and-neck at UK level.

Ed Miliband unveiled an 8ft high stone monument chiselled with his key manifesto promises and said he would not run for a second term if he failed to meet a pledge to cut tuition fees.

Ed Miliband. Picture: PA

Ed Miliband. Picture: PA

The Labour leader vowed to install the limestone tablet in the back garden of 10 Downing Street if he wins power on Thursday.

Unveiling his slab, Mr Miliband said: “These six pledges are now carved in stone. They are carved in stone because they won’t be abandoned after the general election. We will restore faith in politics by delivering what we promised at this general election.”

The pledges are “a strong economic foundation, higher living standards for working families, an NHS with the time to care, controls on immigration, a country where the next generation can do better than the last, and homes to buy and action on rents”.

But David Cameron mocked Mr Miliband’s initiative as a “tombstone”.

Prime Minister insisted an in/out referendum on Britain’s EU membership would be a red line for him in any coalition talks if the Tories fail to achieve an overall majority. He warned that Britain would “drift towards the exit” if a 
referendum was not held.

He said: “Come what may, I will not be PM of a government that does not deliver that 
referendum.”

And Nick Clegg set out his final conditions for any coalition involving the Liberal Democrats, with measures to spare public sector workers further pay cuts and efforts to protect the environment being non-negotiable issues.

The Lib Dem leader said it was a red line that teachers, nurses, police officers and public servants should be given pay rises in line with inflation in 2016-17 and 2017-18 before real-terms increases in the remaining years of the 
parliament.

He also revealed the final of his six conditions was a “green line” on the environment – including strong leadership at the Paris global climate talks later this year and protecting the natural environment at home.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com