Kennedy reveals 'no limit' election ambitions

The Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy today defended his party's plans to levy more taxation from high earners and to finance local government through a local income tax as he launched his party's General Election strategy.

Mr Kennedy told a Westminster news conference there was "no limit" to the Liberal Democrats' ambitions for the election.

He believed voters would understand there were sound arguments for the taxation proposals.

He dismissed as "fantastical" Conservative plans to offer billions of pounds in tax cuts funded by reductions in the size of government.

Under the Liberal Democrat plans, there would be a new 50% rate of income tax on every pound earned over £100,000.

This would fund the party's flagship policies of abolishing university tuition and top-up fees, introducing free personal care of the elderly and the transition from the council tax to local income tax.

Challenged on whether the party could make progress given its taxation plans, Mr Kennedy said: "I think we can, because people are not stupid. People know that you can't get something for nothing.

"People know that the figures have got to add up and I don't think that they will feel later today, or over the coming weeks, that the Conservatives' figures remotely add up, or have any credibility to them whatsoever.

"With us, they will be presented with a straightforward package which will have a price tag attached, and we will invite them to decide."

On the Tories' plans, which were being detailed later today, Mr Kennedy said: "I don't think that people will be taken in by what the Conservatives appear to be offering. People will know that the sound they hear is of the clock striking thirteen.

"I think quite frankly they (the Tories' figures) are fantastical."

With taxation and spending shaping up to be a key battleground at the election - expected on May 5 - Conservative co-chairman Dr Liam Fox swiftly hit back at Mr Kennedy.

Dr Fox said: "Just like Mr Blair, the Liberal Democrats will put up taxes. Charles Kennedy talked about the choice at the election. It is very clear: higher taxes under the Liberal Democrats and Mr Blair, or value for money and lower taxes under the Conservatives.

"Nor would the Liberal Democrats tackle what matters to the majority of people today. They would offer freedom to criminals, raise 44 unfair taxes, and give more control to Europe."

Mr Kennedy used his press conference to seek to portray his party as "the real Opposition" to the New Labour Government.

He highlighted key policies such as opposing the introduction of a national identity card scheme, cutting school class sizes, providing more nursery places, an end to means-testing for pensioners and a £100-a-month increase in pensions for those aged over 75, and 10,000 more police on the streets.

He also highlighted his party's opposition to the war in Iraq.

Mr Kennedy was challenged to spell out in straightforward terms whether, in the event of a hung Parliament, there were any circumstances in which his party would prop up Labour.

Mr Kennedy insisted: "Short of a government of national unity if, God forbid, the country finds itself at war, you can take it that the Liberal Democrats in the next House of Commons will be there as an independent political party. Full stop."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test