Brown boosted as Tory tax plan rubbished
Labour's general election campaign was boosted yesterday by the publication of a letter from 77 economists from around the world backing Gordon Brown in his argument with the Conservatives over tax policy.
The economists warn that David Cameron's plan to cut £6bn (€6.85bn) from state spending this year would cost jobs and risk tipping Britain back into recession.
Conservatives say they would use the cash to reverse next year's planned increase in national insurance (NI), which they have branded a "jobs tax". They say they can find the money from government waste without affecting frontline public services.
But yesterday's letter warns that the move would "lead directly to job losses" and imperil Britain's efforts to repay its record deficit.
Conservatives responded with their own letter signed by 415 leaders of small and medium businesses who say that scrapping the NI rise would "protect jobs and support the recovery".
The economists argue: "This is not the time for such a destabilising action. The recovery is still fragile."
The economists argue that the government should now be seeking to ensure a return to growth.
The businessmen and women signing yesterday's letter in support of the National Insurance cut range from flower shops to small manufacturers. Their intervention follows last week's support for the Tory plan from chief executives and chairmen of major companies.
In their letter, the business leaders said: "We believe that the government's proposal to increase national insurance, placing an additional tax on jobs, comes at exactly the wrong time," they said.
"Businesses have cut their costs without undermining the service they provide to their customers. It is time for the government to do the same."