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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower