Gordon Brown has insisted Labour
has a “plan for the future” as he unveiled manifesto pledges not to
raise income tax and reforms to “renew” Britain.
They would be “relentless
reformers” of financial markets and public services if they won a fourth
term, he said.
Pledges include minimum wage
increases and not to raise income tax. But Labour does not rule out a VAT rise.
The Tories say Labour’s manifesto
would “change nothing”. The Lib Dems say Labour won’t reform tax and
Conservative leader David Cameron
said the Labour campaign was “all about attack, and trying to scare
people” about the Tories.
He said this would be contrasted
with the Conservatives’ own “positive” manifesto, which will be released
In a speech to unveil the manifesto
in Edgbaston, Birmingham, Mr Brown said Labour was facing “the fight of
our lives” adding: “The future will be progressive or Conservative
but it will not be both.
“We are in the future
business; we are building a future fair for all.”
He dismissed “empty slogans
about change” from the Conservatives and pledged a “realistic and
radical plan for Britain”.
He said he wanted to create a
“bigger middle class than ever before” and, in the wake of the
expenses scandal, pledged to replace “discredited and distrusted politics
with one where you, the people, are the boss”.
He pledged to spread excellence
across public services – with every hospital a foundation trust, more power and
responsibility for “strong school leaders” and for underperforming
police forces to be taken over and chief constables replaced.
“Labour will be restless and
relentless reformers. Reformers of the market and reformers of the state,”
Mr Brown said.
Cabinet minister Lord Mandelson
described it as a “Blair plus” manifesto and denied Mr Brown had had
to be converted to his predecessor’s public service reforms: “He invented
New Labour with Tony Blair and myself and others.”
Among Labour’s manifesto
commitments are not to raise income tax rates in the next Parliament, and not
to extend VAT to items like food and children’s clothes.
Asked for a firmer commitment to
rule out a rise in VAT, Mr Brown said: “We have not raised VAT since 1997;
the only party that has raised VAT in the last 25 years is the Conservative