Election 05: The final reckoning

The campaign is almost over; tomorrow, the polls open. The Independent analyses how the parties have performed on key policies
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Indy Politics

Labour

Tax

Pledges not to raise basic or top rate of income tax. Rules out national insurance rise. But is there a "black hole" in public finances?

Spending

Has claimed to be the party of investment in public services. But has suffered backlash from Tony Blair's allegations of Tory "cuts".

Council Tax

Promising to give pensioner households a £200 one-off payment this year, but stung by arrival of council-tax rebanding in England

Pensions

Makes play of cutting pensioner poverty through tax credits. But has kicked difficult issue of pension policy into the long grass.

Health

Aims to cut waiting times from GP's surgery to operating theatre to 18 weeks by 2008. Patients to choose any hospital by then.

Education

Major increase in specialist schools and promises 200 new city academies. Backs university top-up fees of up to £3,000.

Law & Order

Promises onslaught on binge drinking. Points to record police numbers. Strongly backs ID cards. But on the defensive on serious crime.

Immigration & Asylum

Plans for much tougher standards for economic migrants and fresh curbs on asylum-seekers have infuriated civil rights lobby.

Transport & Environment

Pledges some road-building, but more car sharing and road tolls. Aims to cut CO2 emissions by one-fifth below 1990 levels by 2010.

Iraq

Has haunted Tony Blair for the past week. But he has toughed it out, vehemently arguing the world is better without Saddam Hussein.

Conservative

Tax

Promises £4bn in tax cuts, including £1.3bn aid to pensioners on council tax. But party has been challenged over its calculations.

Spending

Aims to spend £35bn less than Labour by 2011-12, and axe 235,000 bureaucratic posts. Have persistent Labour attacks hit home?

Council Tax

Proposes a permanent discount to halve bills for pensioner households up to a maximum of £500. Also says it would stop revaluation

Pensions

Proposes £1.7bn tax cut to promote pension-saving among basic-rate taxpayers and plans to replace the link between state pensions and earnings. Proposals seen as a success

Health

Pledges grant equal to half NHS cost for private operations; also an MRSA crackdown. Would they be subsidising queue-jumpers?

Education

Freedom over schools admissions; vouchers for state-funded private schools; tuition fees become loans. But will state sector lose £2bn?

Law & Order

Campaigned hard, promising extra police and prison-building programme. Plans to cut police paperwork. Ambivalent on ID cards.

Immigration & Asylum

Proposes points system for economic migrants, quota for asylum-seekers. Set the agenda, but is it turning off floating voters?

Transport & Environment

Promises to speed up road repair and widening schemes and to remove speed cameras. Backs targets for cutting greenhouse gases.

Iraq

Accuses PM of lying over WMD. But Michael Howard is in difficulty after saying he would have sanctioned Saddam's removal anyway.

Lib Dem

Tax

Proposes a new 50 per cent top rate of tax on incomes over £100,000 a year. Says it would not need other tax rises, but that is doubted.

Spending

Insists its programme is costed, and will be paid for by new top rate of tax and plans like axing the Department for Trade and Industry.

Council Tax

Plans to scrap the tax altogether and replace the system with a local income tax. But middle-income families may pay more

Pensions

Would reintroduce link between earnings and pensions for over-75s, and link state pensions to residency, not contributions, to aid women. Would offer free personal care for elderly.

Health

Has campaigned on personal care and "hidden" diagnostic waiting lists. But it has struggled to make much headway.

Education

Aims to cut class sizes and abolish unnecessary tests. Offers better specialist teaching, and pledges to abolish tuition fees.

Law & Order

Wants to rehabilitate offenders and make more use of tough community sentences. Opposes ID cards. Accused of being soft.

Immigration & Asylum

Stresses positive contribution of immigrants. Would allow asylum-seekers to work so they have no need to rely on benefits.

Transport & Environment

Proposes tough targets to cut CO2 emissions, building rules to boost energy efficiency, and switching cash from roads to the railways.

Iraq

Opposition to war a key element of party's appeal. Has claimed Prime Minister was bent on war in 2002 and ridiculed Tory stance.

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