Vote 2005: The big choice

Today, it's the turn of the LibDems to publish its manifesto. The battle lines are drawn. Now we face what Tony Blair calls: The big choice
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Indy Politics

Labour

Labour

Tax

Pledges not to raise income tax and promises cuts for families. Other rises not ruled out, notably national insurance.

Spending

Promises to implement savings in the Gershon review - to cut more than 80,000 civil service jobs and save £21bn.

Education

Big expansion of city academies and specialist schools. University top-up fees capped at £3,000 over next parliament.

Health

Maximum waiting time of 18 weeks from referral to treatment by 2008. More choice over hospital and elderly care.

Pensioners

Incentives to work beyond retirement age. Will wait until the review of pensionsthen formulate a strategy for 'pensions crisis'.

Local Government

Reform council tax after review, but go ahead with revaluation and may introduce supertax bands for costliest homes.

Civil Liberties

A points system for skilled migrants and a pledge to continue cutting asylum numbers. Strongly in favour of ID cards.

Iraq

Defends the war and attempts to draw a line under it, preferring people to move on, pointing to Iraqi interim elections.

Europe

Referendum on EU constitution, but no date set, and to campaign for 'yes' vote. Would back euro if economic tests met.

Environment

Apply international pressure on climate change, reduce CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. Support emissions trading.

Conservative

Tax

Promises £4bn of cuts but that will not happen for a year. £1.3bn cut from council tax, the rest has yet to be announced.

Spending

Spend £12bn less than Labour by 2007-08. Abolish 150 public bodies, reform immigration and scrap New Deal.

Education

Overhaul school admissions, with more choice for parents. Abolish university fees, but charge interest on student loans.

Health

Choice of any NHS or private hospital, with subsidy for patients who go private. Guarantee a crackdown on MRSA.

Pensioners

Increase basic state pension in line with earnings, not prices - about £7 a week for single pensioners and £11 for couples.

Local Government

Offer pensioners (65 and over) up to £500 off council tax. Oppose local income tax. Action against illegal traveller camps.

Civil Liberties

Reform of asylum and a points system for economic migrants. Sceptical about ID cards. Reform or scrap Human Rights Act.

Iraq

Backed the war but now say Blair misled the public. Using the war to raise concerns about trust in the Government.

Europe

Would set date of referendum on EU constitution on 6 May. Would repatriate control over fishing and quit social chapter.

Environment

Incentives to make homes more efficient. Cut vehicle tax for 'greener' cars. Increase recycling and clearly label British food.

Lib Dem

Tax

Would create a 50 per cent top rate for earners on more than £100,000. Say they do not need further tax rises.

Spending

Scrap the Department of Trade and Industry to save £8.2bn in five years and make savings from other departments.

Education

Cut primary class sizes to 20 using £1bn saved by abolishing the child trust fund. Abolish university tuition fees.

Health

Free long-term care for the elderly, cut "hidden" waiting lists for diagnosis. Free prescriptions and eye tests.

Pensioners

£100 on the state pension for over-75s. All given the right to a citizen's pension based on where they live, not their contributions.

Local Government

Would replace council tax with a local income tax, with cuts for most pensioners. Devolve more power to local communities.

Civil Liberties

Quotas for economic migrants but allow asylum-seekers to work. Scrap ID cards, and spend the money on 10,000 police.

Iraq

Strongly opposed the war on a "flawed prospectus" and made a "never again" pledge one of 10 main commitments.

Europe

Ardently pro-European, would hold early referendum on the euro, and will campaign for a 'yes' on the EU constitution.

Environment

Freeze on GM crops. New target on carbon emissions. 20 per cent of energy to come from renewable sources by 2020.

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