Sebastian Payne

Campaign kick-off: eight days to go

Campaign kick-off: eight days to go
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There will be more promises from the party leaders today — plus a comedic twist. David Cameron will pledge a five year ‘tax lock’ that will be enshrined in law, while Ed Miliband will attack the proposed £12 billion welfare cuts and promise to raise working-age tax credits in line with inflation. And then we have Russell Brand. To help guide you through the melée of stories and spin, here is a summary of today’s main election stories.

1. The taxman banished

David Cameron doesn’t appear to feel confident that the electorate believes his promises. Pledging to freeze taxes is something new for the Tories, but the Prime Minister is now promising a ‘tax lock’ law to ensure that the next government will not raise VAT, national insurance or income tax during the next parliament. Cameron will say in a speech in Warwickshire today that the choice at this upcoming election is the ‘clearest for a generation’ and urged voters to look to their stomachs when deciding how to vote:

'Beyond the plain facts, it comes down to your gut instinct. When you're standing in the polling booth, ask yourself: on the things that matter in your life who do you really trust? When it comes to your tax bill, do you trust the people who have taxed you to the hilt when they were in power and still haven't come clean about the taxes they want to increase next time round?'

‘Or do you trust the Conservatives, who have cut income taxes for 26million people and who will cut your taxes again next time.’

Cameron will also remind voters of ‘the first law of politics’ — ‘it's Labour who put up your taxes, and the Conservatives who cut them’. By putting this pledge into law, it’s an attempt to remind voters that our pumped-up, serious and trustworthy PM is the one you can trust with the economy. But the latest GDP figures suggest that growth is stalling, mostly thanks to a weaker output in the construction, industrial and service sectors. Although this looks like bad news for the Tories, it adds credence to the notion that the recovery isn’t quite secure yet, as Isabel explained yesterday.

listen to ‘William Hague on Tory tax lock promise and Trident support’ on audioBoom

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But helpfully, businessman and ex-Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg has endorsed David Cameron for reelection today, praising his ‘gutsy decisions and strong leadership’:

‘Now is no time to turn back. I hope British voters will give his Conservative Party the majority it needs to continue strengthening the economy and keep the country on the right track’

2. Tax rises for hardworking people

Confirming Cameron’s ‘first law of politics’, Ed Miliband will also give a speech on financial matters today. Instead of pledging to put his tax plans into law, he will warn of the dangers of the Tories’ plans to slash £12 billion from the welfare budget. At a press conference in London this morning, Miliband will claim this will result a £3.8 billion cut in tax credits. He will promise that a Labour government would ensure tax credits are increased by at least the level of inflation:

‘No government led by me will cut the tax credits that working people rely on while giving tax breaks to the richest. Instead, a Labour government will raise them at least in line with inflation in every budget.’

listen to ‘Ed Balls says Tory tax lock is a 'last minute gimmick'’ on audioBoom

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3. Milibrand

Miliband has gave an interview to Russell Brand yesterday for his online news show 'The Trews'. Opinions on whether this was a good idea or not range from disbelief and sneering to an acknowledgement that Brand has a huge audience of young folks. A trailer clip was released last night, where Miliband acknowledges ‘we’ve got to deal’ with tax avoidance from multinational businesses.

The Guardian reveals that the 35-minute ‘serious political interview’ — which will be cut down to eight minutes and released today — is part of a new strategy Team Miliband to move his campaign up a gear:

‘The two men discussed whether change was achievable through democracy rather than direct action and whether elected politicians have the power to confront corporate vested interests.

‘Miliband said on Tuesday that he profoundly disagreed with Brand’s previous declaration that voting did not make a difference. Brand is not registered to vote, but an endorsement by the comedian with his 9.5 million Twitter followers could persuade some younger voters to go to polling stations and convince sceptics that Miliband is not the cautious conventional Westminster politician of repute.

‘An endorsement would represent a volte face for Brand, but it is said he believes in the urgency of stopping Cameron’s re-election.’

We’ll see later today whether Miliband manages to convince Brand of the hitherto unrealised benefits of a democracy.