Labour will stamp on recovery, insist Tories

Labour will stamp on the green shoots of recovery if the party remains in power, shadow chancellor George Osborne said today as he unveiled the latest Conservative campaign poster.

Gordon Brown is expected to fire the starting gun for the general election campaign tomorrow when it is thought the Prime Minister will go to Buckingham Palace to seek a dissolution of Parliament, setting the stage for an election on 6 May.



The Conservatives today said Labour's plans to increase National Insurance (NI) contributions would kill the economic recovery if the party clings on to power.



The Tories' latest campaign poster shows a bleak landscape with just one green shoot emerging from the barren ground.



A boot bearing the words Jobs Tax on its toecap looms over the tiny plant, as if just about to crush it.



"The choice in this election is very, very clear. You have either got Labour stamping out the recovery, stamping on the green shoots, or the Conservatives avoiding the jobs tax," Mr Osborne said.



He estimated that Labour's planned increase in National Insurance contributions would cost the NHS, the country's largest employer, £200 million.



"I think that money could be better used to help the many thousands of people in Britain who can't get access to new cancer treatments."



He added: "I think it comes down to priorities. Do we want the money going on additional National Insurance in the NHS or on new cancer drugs?"



The poster, which has the headline Brown Recovery Plan, also shows a second boot bearing the words More Debt.



Mr Osborne said the Conservatives could avoid the NI rise by cutting "wasteful government spending".



He said Chancellor Alistair Darling had admitted there was waste but did not seem willing to tackle it now.



"How can cutting wasteful government spending risk anything?" he said.



"This is taxpayers' money."



Mr Osborne said a Conservative government would freeze major IT projects and negotiate better deals with suppliers.



Mr Darling today said the planned rise in National Insurance contributions was vital to the economy and would not cost jobs.



The Chancellor dismissed criticism from business leaders that the move was a "tax on jobs".



He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the NI rise was an essential part of his wider package for consolidating and building on the economic recovery.



The Conservatives said their calculations showed the revenue the Treasury received from NI had risen by 22 per cent in real terms since 2001-02, five times the 4 per cent growth in income tax receipts over the same period.



They said that while the amount the average family paid in income tax had risen by £47, from £5,461 in 2001-02 to £5,508, their NI contributions had gone up from £2,725 to £3,239 - an increase of £514.



Mr Osborne has said the cuts, needed to pay for the decision not to go ahead with the NI increase on incomes under £45,000, would be achieved through efficiency savings.



However Mr Brown said it would mean taking money out of the economy at a time when continuing support is essential.



"This is not the right time to unsettle the economy by pulling out money that is necessary to support the recovery," he told the Financial Times.



In his latest podcast on the Downing Street website, he even drew a comparison with Wayne Rooney's foot injury to make his point.



"After an injury you need support to recover, you need support to get back to match fitness, you need support to get back your full strength and then go on to lift the World Cup. So with the economy - we're not back to full fitness, we need to maintain support," he said.



"If we try and jump off the treatment table as if nothing had happened, we'll do more damage to the economy - and frankly that means we risk a double-dip recession. I think that's a risk we can't afford to take."



Meanwhile, Tory leader David Cameron was facing calls from gay rights activists to sack shadow home secretary Chris Grayling after he said Christian-run bed and breakfasts should be allowed to turn away same-sex couples.



Labour and the Liberal Democrats said his comments - recorded at a meeting of the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank - showed the Tories had not really changed under Mr Cameron.



Mr Grayling insisted he was not against gay rights, but said he believed it was important to be sensitive to the genuinely-held principles of faith groups.



Speaking at today's poster launch at Conservative headquarters in central London, Mr Osborne said Mr Grayling had his full support.



"Chris Grayling, like myself, voted for the legislation that outlawed discrimination," he said.



"He put out a statement yesterday, that's the end of the matter."



After today's official launch, two Conservative supporters donned masks of Mr Brown and Mr Darling and climbed into boot costumes.



They rocked back and forth, making the boots appear to be walking above young plants in a patch of bare earth, as Nancy Sinatra's These Boots Are Made For Walkin' blasted out from a stereo.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor