Tories pose too big a risk to prosperity, says Brown

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Gordon Brown has insisted that voters have backed his recent tax rises and predicted they would reject a Conservative government as "too big a risk" to Britain's prosperity.

Gordon Brown has insisted that voters have backed his recent tax rises and predicted they would reject a Conservative government as "too big a risk" to Britain's prosperity.

As the Chancellor tried to make the economy the centrepiece of Labour's election drive, he defended the national insurance increase in 2002 as vital for boosting health spending.

The Conservatives have seized on figures showing average household incomes dropped slightly last year as proof that tax rises were beginning to hit voters' pockets. Mr Brown refused to be drawn on tax plans for a third term in government but pointed to his record of cutting income tax and corporation tax.

He would only say: "All our spending plans are affordable. As for taxation, we'll publish our proposals at the time of the publication of the Labour manifesto."

Asked about the NI rise, he said: "I believe people understand it was the right thing to do". Speaking at the launch of Labour's plans for housing, he argued that inflation, interest rates and mortgage rates were half the level they had been under the Tories.

He said: "The question people will want answered during the next few weeks is, 'Which party is going to take forward the economic stability and growth that has given us the lowest interest rates and inflation for more than 40 years?'

"I believe when people look at the Labour record ... they will decide it is too big a risk to go back to the party that created 10 per cent inflation, 15 per cent interest rates, negative equity and mortgage repossessions."

Under his proposals, home ownership would be raised from 70 per cent to 75 per cent of the population by 2010. Fifteen thousand starter homes would be put up on former NHS sites, builders encouraged to construct £60,000 homes and a scheme expanded to enable first-time buyers to pay for the cost of construction, but not of the land.

John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, appeared to undermine the initiative by admitting Labour had prevented people from buying their homes. He said council tenants were "eliminated" from home-ownership because the discounts offered were too low. But it was Mr Prescott who cut the discounts under the right-to-buy scheme in 2003, arguing they were fuelling the property price boom.

Michael Howard, the Tory leader, said of the plans: "Home-owners and first-time buyers will see this for what it is - more talk. They have been hard hit by Labour's stealth taxes."

The Conservatives also claimed Labour had secret plans to force workers to set aside cash for their pensions.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Peter Hain, the Leader of the Commons, raised the prospect of an overhaul of the pensions system. He said: "It's going to involve, in my view, all sorts of considerations, including people saving more themselves ... We're not saving enough as a society."

In a GMTV interview tomorrow, Glenys Kinnock, the Labour MEP, will urge the party's leadership to focus on "redistribution". She will say: "Why don't we talk up the minimum wage, why don't we talk up the fact it's the poorest pensioners, poorest families, poorest children that the Labour Party has been targeting?"

Comments