Conservative Diary

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More business leaders back Conservative plans to scrap rise in national insurance

Picture 28 Yesterday saw a letter to the Daily Telegraph from 23 leading businessmen in support of Conservative plans to stop the Government's proposed rise in national insurance.

The story not only makes the Telegraph splash again this morning but also takes pride of place on the front of today's Guardian, under the headline "Labour and business fall-out".

The Guardian suggest that Labour's "intermittent 14-year love affair with business" is now at risk, with Lord Mandelson accusing those supporting the Tory position on this issue as having been "deceived".

But far from being deceived, an increasing number of business leaders are throwing their weight behind David Cameron and George Osborne's pledge to reverse Labour's rise in national insurance (a position which, as I note elsewhere on the site this morning, Gordon Brown used to describe as "a tax on ordinary families").

As the Telegraph reports:

"In an open letter, the British Chamber of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry and the Institute of Directors joined forces to welcome Mr Cameron’s move to cut government waste rather than increase the tax."

"Yesterday another 14 company chiefs added their names to the protest. Among them were Richard Caring, the former Labour donor and restaurant entrepreneur, Ron Dennis, the boss of Formula 1 team McLaren, Simon Fox, the chief executive of HMV Group, and Brent Hoberman, the co-founder of

"Mr Hoberman – like Sir Stuart Rose, of M&S, and Diageo chief executive Paul Walsh, who signed the original letter – is a member of Mr Brown’s own Business Council. The protest is a significant blow to the Prime Minister, just weeks before the general election."

As Shadow Chancellor George Osborne concluded last night:

“Gordon Brown finds himself increasingly at war with British business – he is part of the problem, not the solution. Rebuilding the economy cannot be done by government alone. It’s going to involve working with business big and small to create the jobs that so many Britons desperately need.”

2pm update:

The Telegraph has published a full list of all the businessmen back the Tory policy on National Insurance.

3pm update:

Picture 24 David Cameron has reacted to the latest backers of his policy, saying:

"This is an impressive list of businesses. I think this is the week that Labour got themselves on the wrong side of working people in Britain and the wrong side of British business."

He has also dismissed Labour claims that blocking the NI rise would mean a rise in VAT:

"We don't have plans to put up other taxes. You can never rule out forever and a day [regarding] other taxes... but our plans involve public spending reductions because we think the government has got the balance wrong... They're wasting money today so they can put up taxes tomorrow. We say stop the waste today so you don't have to put up taxes tomorrow."

Jonathan Isaby


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