National Insurance

Jim Pickard

Alan Johnson heavily criticised the New Year rise in VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent this morning, warning it would cost jobs and could jeopardise the economic recovery.

Is this responsible opposition? A Tory source points out that Labour would have almost certainly have done the same thing – or at least considered it very strongly. Read more

National Insurance: 46 per cent back Tory plans to reverse National Insurance rise. But, if a tax has to go up, 55 per cent prefer to raise National Insurance rather than VAT (YouGov/Sunday Times)

Marriage tax break: 19 per cent are more likely to vote Tory because of marriage tax break (YouGov/Sunday Times). But 59 per cent think the tax break should go to unmarried couples too (ICM Sun/Telegraph) Read more

Lord Mandelson is in charge of the Labour election campaign but, in reality, he has little choice but to work to Ed Balls’ playbook. The truth is that when the Tories promised to reverse part of the National Insurance tax rise, it turned this election into a big test of the Balls vision of British politics.

The origins of this lie in the November Pre-Budget Report, which set the cornerstone of the Labour message. Spending on schools went up in real terms, a great triumph for Balls at a time public sector cuts. The downside was that National Insurance had to rise. Read more