THE DELIVERY of a comprehensive transport plan for the North was promised by the Liberal Democrats yesterday as the party looks to hold on to its Leeds North West seat.
The Lib Dems became the first of the main parties to explicitly commit to delivering the Transport for the North plan in their manifesto launched yesterday.
Drawn up by councils and government officials, Transport for the North promises to create an integrated regional rail network, cut transpennine journey times and introduce smart-ticketing so public transport users can easily travel across the North.
The Lib Dem manifesto launched by Nick Clegg also commits to continuing with the HS2 high speed rail line between Yorkshire and London and supporting towns and cities that want tram systems.
In a further appeal to the North, the manifesto promises “devolution on demand” for areas that want to take more control over their own affairs.
The Lib Dems go into the election defending three Yorkshire seats, including Greg Mulholland’s Leeds North West constituency, but on current polling are facing a significant squeeze on the vote they secured in 2010.
Launching the manifesto, Mr Clegg positioned himself as the palatable alternative to Nigel Farage or Alex Salmond dictating the terms of a post-election coalition deal with Labour or the Conservatives.
Mr Clegg said: “The Liberal Democrats will add a heart to a Conservative government and a brain to a Labour one.”
“We won’t allow the Conservatives to cut too much and jeopardise our schools and hospitals and we won’t allow Labour to borrow too much and risk our economy again.”
He added: “The truth is a few hundred votes in a small number of seats could decide whether it is Liberal Democrat MPs, UKIP MPs or SNP MPs who the next Prime Minister will be forced to listen to.
“There is a very thin line between Britain being governed by a coalition with a conscience or a government with a grievance.”
In a nod to criticism of the Lib Dems 2010 manifesto and the commitments it could not deliver in coalition, in particular on tuition fees, Mr Clegg described their 2015 plan as “a programme for government, not opposition”.
“It is not a shopping list of pie in the sky ideas, but a set of proposals that builds on our record of action in government.”
But the National Union of Students will today launch a campaign targeting Lib Dems - such as Mr Clegg and David Ward whi is defending his Bradford East seat - voted for the rise in tuition fees having committed not to do so before the last election.