Peter Hoskin

Tories remain on the front foot over national insurance

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A copy of a letter that George Osborne sent to Alistair Darling today:

Alistair Darling

The Labour Party

39 Victoria Street

London   SW1H 0HA

9 April 2010

Dear Alistair,

In the course of today, the Labour Party’s economic policy has collapsed in a heap of contradictions.

In the morning, you attacked our efficiency plans on the grounds that they would reduce public sector headcount – but by lunchtime your own Treasury Minister, Stephen Timms, admitted that your own spending plans meant that “there will be some job losses” (The Daily Politics, BBC 2, 9 April 2010).

On Monday 5 April you told the Today Programme that there would be “no” job losses as a result of your National Insurance rise, an assertion that flies in the face of economic logic and the views of over 80 leading business figures.  But today, on the BBC One O’clock News, you admitted in questioning from me that your planned increase in National Insurance will lead to what you describe as “manageable” job losses.  Stephen Timms has previously admitted in Parliament on 22 March that there would be “limited” job losses as a result of your jobs tax.

Mr Timms also admitted in a written Parliamentary answer on 7 April that the Treasury will publish an impact assessment on the National Insurance increase, but not before the Election.

What are you trying to hide?  Why do you not want the public to know the truth about the jobs losses that your own Treasury officials believe will follow from the National Insurance rise?

It is an open secret that Treasury officials did not recommend the National Insurance rise, and nor did you.  As Chancellor, you had it imposed on you by Gordon Brown and Ed Balls.  Both men made the cynical political calculation that the public and the business community would not understand the implications of a National Insurance rise, but they have been found out – just as they were on the 10p tax rise.  Political calculation trumped sound economic policy, and that is why your Party finds itself at war with British business.  

There is now no excuse for concealing from the British people the Treasury’s own internal assessment of the job losses that will follow your National Insurance rise.  The public paid for that advice through their taxes, and will pay for the consequences of your policy with their jobs.  Last week, I submitted a Freedom of Information request for this vital information of great public interest, and it should be published immediately.

Why are you hiding the truth about your jobs tax from the British people?

As ever

George Osborne