LAST week at the Edinburgh Climbing Centre, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched the only progressive manifesto to be produced by a mainstream party in this general election campaign.

Before our manifesto was published the SNP's message had been consistent and clear; we want to give Scotland a voice, ensure it is heard and - most importantly - we want to combat the cosy Westminster consensus on austerity.

Our manifesto reaffirms these commitments, assuring voters that the SNP's highest priority after the election, regardless of its outcome, will be to fight the deep cuts to public spending.

In fact, we propose a very moderate increase in public spending in order to allow us to protect services vital to our poorest and most vulnerable communities and to promote growth and prosperity across Scotland.

However, this manifesto is not just about our vision for Scotland.

In the SNP we believe our MPs have a duty to protect the disadvantaged wherever they are and in any way we can - including in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

While we will continue to protect free higher education in Scotland, we will also support any reduction in tuition fees for students in England.

We believe that charging £9000 a year for university is not only morally wrong, but will serve to increase already stark levels of inequality by locking out those from less well off backgrounds.

The Tories plan to expand the 'Right to Buy' initiative, which has depleted social housing stocks across the UK, and which the SNP has abolished in Scotland.

In contrast, the SNP manifesto gives a commitment to support building a minimum of 100,000 affordable houses across the entire UK.

These policies are not only a neighbourly offer of support to those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who have suffered under a succession of New Labour governments and now a Tory-Lib Dem coalition with little reprieve. They also provide an agenda which a progressive alliance of Greens, Plaid Cymru and perhaps even a reformed Labour might be able to support in a future Westminster parliamentary term.

I previously mentioned our commitment to policies which affect people outside of Scotland - this does not only extend to our friends across the rest of the UK, but also internationally.

One of our manifesto pledges is to push any UK government to formally recognise the state of Palestine.

In my opinion it is very difficult to advocate a two-state solution without recognising both states - Palestine and Israel - as equal. Earlier this week SNP MSP Sandra White brought forward a motion on the recognition of the state Palestine to the Scottish Parliament, and it gained cross-party support.

Almost two-thirds of countries across the world recognise both the state of Israel and the state of Palestine, I can't see why the UK doesn't.

I see no rational reason why does not.

If we want to see peace in the middle east it is imperative that we do not deny the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to their own state follow suit while continuing to look forward to peace across both countries.