Ed Miliband answered questions for the first time this afternoon about his plans to re-introduce the 50p rate of income tax.
Politicians at both ends of the political spectrum need to be more honest about the true motivations behind their tax policies.
Ed Balls has said Labour would restore the 50p tax rate for those earning over £150,000 if the party wins the next election.
The signatories of a letter from business leaders - in which they criticise Labour's 50p tax plan - include Sir Stuart Rose, the chairman of Ocado, Sir Ian Cheshire, the chief executive of the DIY giant Kingfisher, and Neil Clifford, the chief executive of the footwear retailer Kurt Geiger.
– Sir Stuart Rose, the chairman of Ocado
This will put at risk all the good work that has been done to put the economy back on track.
– Richard Caring, the owner of Le Caprice and the Ivy restaurants
[I am] deflated to see this negative political attack on those trying to support the fragile recovery… This is a complete downer and discouragement for entrepreneurs.
– Charlie Mullins, the founder of Pimlico Plumbers
It would be suicidal.
Business people aren't against paying tax, just not at such a punitive rate.
Business bosses have criticised Labour's 50p tax rate plan warning that the policy would threaten the recovery and cost jobs.
In a letter published in the Telegraph, the heads of 24 of Britain’s most successful companies warn that the plan would "have the effect of discouraging business investment in the UK”.
They add that such a move would be a “backward step” that would quickly lead to job losses.
Six out of ten Brits back Labour's plan to reintroduce the 50p income tax rate for the highest earners, according to a new poll.
- 60% agree with the policy
- 17% disagree
- 23% said they don't know or neither
While 40% of the 1,064 respondents disagree that the tax plan will make the rich leave Britain, 57% said they do not believe shadow chancellor Ed Balls will meet his pledge to balance the books in the next Parliament.
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said restoring the 50p top rate of income tax does not mean Labour has an anti-business agenda.
Mr Balls told The Andrew Marr Show the plan would "raise a substantial amount of revenue" and that it was "a fair way to get the deficit down".
"This is not an anti-business agenda - it is an anti-business as usual agenda", he said. I'm pro-business, pro-investment but also pro-fairness".
The shadow chancellor also denied Labour would consider raising the income tax to 60p in the future.
Former Labour City minister Lord Myners has denounced Ed Balls' plan to restore the 50p top rate of income tax, calling it a return to "the politics of envy".
Lord Myners told the Sunday Telegraph: “The economic logic behind his Ed Balls’ thinking would not get him a pass at GCSE economics.”
“By contrast to Ed Miliband’s recent interventions on energy and banking, which tried to reconcile competitive markets with Labour principles, Ed Balls takes us back to old Labour and the politics of envy.”
Labour will "have to do more" to control welfare spending to meet its pledge to balance the books, Ed Miliband has said.
The Labour leader warned that major changes will be needed to "cut the costs of failure in the system" as the party creates its plan to wipe out the deficit by 2020.
Writing in The Sun on Sunday, he also dismissed criticism of Labour's plans to reintroduce the 50p top rate of tax, which shadow chancellor Ed Balls announced yesterday, insisting the move would not stop the wealthiest "working hard".
Mr Miliband wrote: "If we are to tackle the deficit, we also have to do more to control social security spending. That means making tough choices this Government has ducked, such as scrapping the winter fuel allowance for the richest five per cent of pensioners."
Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said "Labour's hypocrisy on taxation is breathtaking" after Ed Balls set out the party's economic policy ahead of the 2015 General Election.
Mr Alexander said the shadow chancellor's speech shows the party "have learned nothing from the last few years and would undermine the foundations of Britain's economic recovery" and reintroducing the 50 pence tax rate "wouldn't help".
He said: "In Government they left a system full of loopholes for the wealthy to exploit.
"Thanks to our action in Government to raise capital gains tax, reduce pensions tax relief for the wealthiest, and tackle avoidance, Lib Dems in Government are raising more from those who have the most and making Britain more competitive."
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said it is "not business as usual" for Labour after setting out Labour's economic policy ahead of the next General Election.
He told ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener: "We need to have, and work with business to create, jobs and get the long-term investment we need.
"We set out the radical reforms we need to do that - it's not business as usual, it's change.
"Labour will get the deficit down in a fair way by not going ahead with that top rate tax cut, and we'll deliver the investment and jobs that we need for the future."