i Editor's Letter: More questions for Miliband & Cameron


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The Independent Online

Yesterday we brought you advance news of Labour’s manifesto promise to balance the books. Today it’s a heads-up on the Conservatives’ plan to give 1.3 million council tenants the right to buy, compelling authorities to sell off the most expensive social housing to fund new development.

“I am ready,” Ed Miliband told us at Labour’s launch. It was certainly one of the most powerful speeches he has given – his confidence has flowered in a few short weeks of spring. The polls suggest he may be doing enough, so far, to stop David Cameron winning. He looks stronger than the caricature.

And yet yesterday’s Labour manifesto – with its promises on childcare, freezing rail fares, an £8 minimum wage, public rail franchises, lower tuition fees and a mansion tax – leaves several big questions unanswered.

How can the NHS find the extra £8bn it will need every year? Labour didn’t match George Osborne’s (unfunded) vow to fill this gap.

What extra cuts must the public sector take, with Ed Miliband in No 10, to balance the books as he promises? The “fiscal responsibility lock” trumpeted on page 1 of Labour’s manifesto is so vague in its timing, the Institute for Fiscal Studies points out, that it could mean £18 billion of extra cuts over the next three years, or none.

Would more voters be sucked into the higher 40p rate of  income tax?

And here’s a question for you,  i readers, the one that Ed Miliband really wants the answer to: does this manifesto do enough to  convince you to put Labour in charge of the economy again?

Expect a full analysis of today’s Tory manifesto in Wednesday’s i, once we have the detail.


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