Labour Launches 'Responsibility Lock' Manifesto

Jason Farrell, Senior Political Correspondent
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Labour Launches 'Responsibility Lock' Manifesto

Economic responsibility will be front and centre of Labour's manifesto, being launched in Manchester later.

The party uses the first page of the election document to make a 'Budget Responsibility Lock' pledge, claiming every policy is paid for.

The manifesto states: "Not one commitment requires additional borrowing. We are the first party to make that pledge and with this manifesto it is delivered."

Ed Miliband will promise that all of his party's commitments will be fully-funded, refuting Conservative claims that Labour’s plans would lead to economic chaos.

He will say: "The very start of our manifesto is different to previous elections.

"It does not do what most manifestos do. It isn't a shopping list of spending policies.

"It does something different: its very first page sets out a vow to protect our nation's finances; a clear commitment that every policy in this manifesto is paid for without a single penny of extra borrowing."

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The party says it will cut the deficit every year, placing the promise on "the first line of Labour's first budget".

Labour also says it will legislate to require all major parties to have their manifesto audited by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility.

Speaking ahead of the manifesto launch, shadow chancellor Ed Balls told Sky News Labour planned to eliminate the deficit and be in surplus by the end of the next parliament.

He denied there would be a wholesale raising of taxes if the party came to power and said the Tories could not continue to blame Labour for the global financial crash that was triggered 10 years ago.

He said: "We are going to promise in our manifesto there will be no increase in VAT. We will promise in our manifesto there will be no increase in National Insurance. We will promise in our manifesto we will not increase the basic or higher rates of income tax.

"We are going to say in our manifesto we are going to increase the top rate of income tax for people earning over £150,000. We thought that tax cut was a mistake for the Government. We are going to abolish the Married Couple's Allowance, which we think is pretty perverse and use the money to give a tax cut. For all working people the 10p starting rate of income tax re-introduced.

"We are going to take the winter allowance away from pensioners with incomes over £42,000. We are going to cap child benefit at 1%. 

"Those tax changes and those promises we can also say that we are not going to be increasing tax for working people but we are for the people on the highest incomes."

Mr Miliband will also attack Tory economic plans saying: "In recent days you have seen the Conservatives throwing spending promises around with no idea of where the money is coming from, promises which are unfunded, unfair and unbelievable.

"That approach is bad for the nation's books. And nothing is more dangerous to our NHS than saying you will protect it without being able to say where the money is coming from. You can't help the NHS with an IOU."

This is a direct attack on the Tories' extra £8bn pledge on the NHS announced on Friday and it is striking that Labour now thinks it stands as the party of economic credibility.

But speaking ahead of Labour's manifesto launch, Chancellor George Osborne said: "It’s clear Labour's manifesto will be a dangerous cocktail of higher taxes and more debt that will cost jobs and cut incomes.

"Labour must now answer two questions: Which taxes are they planning to increase to pay for it? And what is Ed Miliband willing to trade in the event he needs to be propped up by the SNP?"

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