Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Labour Throws Down the Gauntlet on Tax and Constitutional Reform

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Labour Throws Down the Gauntlet on Tax and Constitutional Reform

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Woodcock

LABOUR will keep the basic rate of income tax at 20p for the whole of the next parliament if it wins the general election, Gordon Brown indicated yesterd ay. The promise is expected to be a key pledge in Labour's manifesto, expected to be approved by its National Executive Committee today.

Mr Brown said: "The income tax rate has come down from 23p to 20p and we have kept it a 20p and that is what we will pledge to do in our manifesto."

Labour pledged at each of the last three elections not to increase income tax rates, but was accused of breaking its promise when it introduced a new 50p top rate on high-earners this week.

Yesterday's tax pledge was dismissed by Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable as "a lame gesture". "If you want a fairer tax system that puts money back in the pockets of millions of people, the only party that will do that is the Liberal Democrats," said Mr Cable, whose party is promising to raise the threshold for income tax to pounds 10,000.

Earlier Mr Brown and David Cameron clashed again over national insurance at the final Prime Minister's Questions of the current parliament.

The Tory leader claimed the Government's planned increase would "wreck" the recovery.

Meanwhile, Labour's spat with business leaders who opposed the rise threatened to escalate as Mr Brown repeated Business Secretary Lord Mandelson's claim that they had been "deceived" by the Tories.

Mr Brown used his first set-piece speech of the campaign to promise the "most comprehensive programme of constitutional reform for a century", to restore trust in politics.

As well as pledging fixed-term parliaments - ending the power of the prime minister to choose the timing of future elections - he promised referendums on voting reform for Westminster elections and final reform of the House of Lords. …

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