Brown to offer wider view of economic plan

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Indy Politics
Individual potential will be bolstered by tax and benefit incentives, regional policy and even the technological advances of satellite television under a Labour government, Gordon Brown, the shadow Chancellor, is expected to promise today.

In a further elaboration of Labour's 'new economics', Mr Brown plans to deliver a multi- point programme on training and learning in a London speech this afternoon.

A senior party source said last night that Mr Brown would be saying that Labour's commitment 'to using the power of government to advance industrial potential and skills goes far beyond the training budget and reaches out across fiscal, industrial, regional, technology and social security policies, informing the whole economic policy of a future Labour government'.

He would also be arguing that the current cycle of economic decline was a result of Conservative ideological failure; the assumption that the free market could promote growth without essential investment.

But some of Mr Brown's Labour critics will be looking to the speech for an elaboration of his own macro-economic alternative, and they could well be disappointed with one sensitive political development promised last night.

Today's speech was said to contain a further move from Labour's socialist traditions, with a potentially Thatcherite echo, in a statement that 'self-interest equates with national interest . . . as individuals succeed, companies and the country succeed too'.

As for Mr Brown's training and learning charter, he is expected to propose personal tax incentives for people upgrading their skills.

He also wants the emphasis of industrial grants moved from capital investment to investment in skills, and tax relief on research and development geared to activity, rather than buildings and equipment.

One source said last night: 'Instead of a regional aid system with investment incentives for buildings and machinery, modern regional policies right across Europe, as well as in Britain, should provide grants and tax incentives far more oriented towards support for upgrading skills.'

Mr Brown is also hoping to capture the imagination of his audience, if not headlines, with a proposal that satellite television links might be used to create a new version of Labour's highly-successful 1960s proposal for the Open University - a new 'University for Industry'. He wants to unite universities, industry and broadcasters to spread the latest ideas and technology to the factory floor as well as private homes.

There was also a suggestion last night that Mr Brown would be talking about the idea of full employment. But the party leadership has shown a marked reluctance - so far - to return Labour to its post-war commitment to a full employment policy.

(Photograph omitted)