Launching the SNP’s Westminster manifesto in Glasgow today (Tue), Party leader and First Minister Alex Salmond said that this election, and the growing prospect of a balanced parliament, offered a great opportunity for Scotland.

The manifesto sets out the SNP’s vision for the creation of 60,000 green energy jobs in the next decade, and calls for Scotland to be included in the first phase of plans for high-speed rail, as well as outlining the key services the Party is intent on protecting from the cuts agenda of the London parties.

Mr Salmond said: “We are now almost at the half way point of this election. And it is an election that is moving in Scotland’s direction.

“The prospect of a balanced parliament has now become increasingly likely.

“The thought causes panic in the Labour and Tory ranks.

“But it is a development that is welcome here in Scotland and one which we embrace enthusiastically.

“For it is with a balanced parliament that Scotland’s greatest opportunity exists.

 The more SNP MPs, the stronger Scotland’s hand will be.

 Mr Salmond added:

“In that context a vote for the SNP is a vote for maximum influence for Scotland.

“For MPs who will put Scotland first, who will seek to protect the country from the Labour, Tory and Liberal cuts agenda. “From Tweedledum, Tweedledee and the Tweedledems.

“The greater the opportunity for our people, our communities and our nation.

 “On polling day it is the people, not the politicians who have the power.

“A balanced Parliament will be a people’s parliament.”

 Mr Salmond outlined the manifesto’s pledges to protect policies like free personal care, concessionary travel, the SNP Government’s £1.25 billion investment in new schools and the Forth Replacement Crossing.

 The manifesto also promotes fairness for families by proposing that pensions and the minimum wage should rise in line with earnings, while also backing the extension of paternity leave. It will also propose more support for ex-servicemen and women by calling for the introduction of a Scottish Veterans’ Card.

 Mr Salmond said:

 “We will offer an alternative to the London parties’ agenda – an alternative that sees spending cut on the things that don’t matter at all.

 “Take the spending axe to the £100,000 million Trident and its replacement or the £100 million House of Lords, OR THE £10 MILLION SCOTLAND OFFICE, so we can invest instead in the things that matter most.

 “More Nats will mean more jobs for the people of Scotland – our aim is to create 60,000 green jobs in Scotland by the end of the decade.

 “We can release the near £200 million fossil fuel levy to invest in renewable energy projects across Scotland. And we can remove the barriers to investment by ending the discriminatory transmission charging regime.

“Scotland’s green energy potential is huge. We can become the renewable energy powerhouse of Europe, but we’ve got to make the right decisions now and stop the wrong decisions in London from holding us back.

“Scotland must be part of the first stage of high speed rail. As the events of recent days have shown, Scotland’s economy cannot rely on domestic air travel. So we say start high speed rail in Scotland.

“We need a new capital acceleration to support a recovery that remains fragile. That measure alone would create and support almost 5,000 jobs this year. And by halting the increase in National Insurance we can protect a further 10,000 Scottish jobs.

Mr Salmond added:

“Running through this manifesto is the SNP vision of a new future for Scotland.

“A Scotland that is independent, socially just and economically secure.

“The real alternative to the discredited Westminster system is a fresh, independent future for our nation. And our MPs will work to make sure the people of Scotland can choose this future in a referendum.

“Our nation deserves more than a decade of dismal cuts – a decade of wasted opportunities and lost hope.

“A window of opportunity is emerging for Scotland. And it is an opportunity our nation can seize by voting for more than just a politician.

“They can elect local champions, and national champions. SNP MPs who will win a better deal for our nation.”