27 days to go: Blair refuses to rule out tax rises

Pressure is mounting on Tony Blair to come clean with the electorate and spell out which taxes would go up if Labour were to win a third term. Shadow Treasury Chief Secretary George Osborne has called on the Premier to explain where workers would be hit next after Mr Blair refused to rule out tax rises if his party succeeded in securing a Parliamentary majority on May 5.

Quizzed by journalists, he would not make a commitment to peg tax rates, and according to reports, his party’s election manifesto – to be published next week – will be vague on the issue, repeating the specific but limited pledge given in both 1997 and 2001 not to raise the basic or top rates of income tax or extend VAT to food, children’s clothes, books, newspaper and public transport fares.

Conservatives seized on Mr Blair’s refusal to extend the guarantee to National Insurance contributions, and stressed that Mr Blair – after claiming he had “no plans to increase tax at all”- went on to raise them at least 66 times; while he also slapped a massive £5 billion annual tax on pension funds after declaring that Labour’s spending agenda required “no extra taxation”.

Declared Mr Osborne: “All independent commentators now agree that there is a black hole in Labour’s spending plans which will require tax increases if Labour is re-elected.”

He told conservatives.com: “If they are going to rule out a rise in income tax, then they must say which taxes they will increase. Will they increase national insurance, as they did after the last election? Or will it be a different stealth tax?”

Meanwhile, during an election campaign interview, Conservative Leader Michael Howard highlighted how high tax rates are holding back the UK economy – and signalled how he would work to lower levies if the party wins power in four weeks time.

He said: "One of the problems we have about our economy is that people are paying too much tax.
If we can lower the burden of tax our economy will do better."

Explaining that a Conservative government would reduce the nation’s tax bill by at least £4 billion, with help for pensioners' council tax bills, Mr Howard added: “We have been over the books very carefully and what we have found - this will not surprise many people - is that the Government wastes a great deal of taxpayers' money. We have found that waste, we have identified it.”

Mr Howard went on: “We only make promises we know we can keep, but what I can promise you is that people will pay less tax under a Conservative government than under a Labour government.”


story from: www.conservatives.com