The Liberal Democrats have set out a "four step" manifesto plan to "hardwire fairness into British society" with a future-focused manufacturing strategy.
Leader Nick Clegg said his policies, including raising the state pension and a tax cut for low and middle earners, combined “hope and credibility”.
The four main themes of the 103-page booklet are fair taxes, more chances for children, a fairer and greener economy, and cleaning up politics.
Labour and the Tories said their opponents’ sums “did not add up”.
Mr Clegg said it was a “tragedy” that so many people in Britain were prevented from fulfilling their potential by social and economic “bottlenecks” that his party was committed to remove.
“Our manifesto will hardwire fairness into British society,” he told an audience in London. “This is not a promise. It is a plan.”
John Thurso, Liberal Democrats Shadow Secretary of State for Business, commented on the Lib Dems business policies in the party’s recent in-house magazine.
“British manufacturing should be a success story. It remains a cornerstone of the UK economy, accounting for around a fifth of national output and employing four million people and is the still the world’s 6th largest exporter. We are good at it but, it has been sadly neglected by this Government whose protracted love affair with the city and financial services have robbed manufacturing of the resource and support it deserved.
“Action to support the manufacturing sector since the onset of recession has necessarily been reactive, too often characterised as too little too late and too complex.. Schemes such as the vehicle scrappage scheme have increased short term demand and been successful, but others such as the automotive assistance scheme have resolutely failed. Other broader business support initiatives have brought a temporary degree of respite but none of these efforts have fundamentally changed the long term prospects for UK manufacturing. Whilst these measures were necessary, given the bankers meltdown we faced, UK manufacturing deserves better.
“UK manufacturing will be successful when it produces the goods that people want, better than the rest of the world. Manufacturing is a broad category and therefore government efforts need to be well targeted, focussed on areas of opportunity. Indiscriminate measures such as the recent VAT cut come at a high cost to the public purse with little clear benefit.
“Manufacturing strategy therefore needs to look ahead to the market trends of tomorrow – the transition to a low carbon economy, the rise in wealthy consumers in emerging economies and the needs of an ageing population in developed countries. The UK needs to be at the forefront of market changes anticipating future needs as they emerge and offering solutions to gain first mover advantage.”
The Lib Dems are the last of the three largest parties to publish their manifesto, following on from Labour and the Conservatives.