I said on the day the first group of businessmen came out in favour of tackling waste over raising National Insurance that nobody should be remotely surprised that businessmen prefer tackling waste to raising National Insurance.
The deception of the businessmen, and of the British people, lies in the Tories’ continued failure to spell out how their plan would be funded be funded. Waste? Fine, but where, what and how? David Cameron once called the use of ‘efficiency savings’ as justification for a planned public spending commitment ‘the oldest trick in the book.’
Can any one of the businessmen who have signed the NICs letter explain whether they have had it explained to them, by Cameron or George Osborne, exactly where these savings are coming from, and with what impact and on what timetable? No, I thought not. The Tories have already been rumbled on their misuse of the timetable to make false claims about the funding of a bogus cancer pledge.
The whole fandango reminds me a little bit of a similar Tory campaign back in the 1997 campaign when businessmen were wheeled out to support the claim made by John Major et al that a minimum wage would cost a million jobs. It didn’t. Now of course they say they support a minimum wage. They don’t.
Cameron said his number one priority was tackling the deficit. Clearly it is number one priority no longer.
The risk to the recovery comes not just from taking six billion pounds out of the economy, but also from making a whole series of promises today which if implemented would lead to economic calamity tomorrow. None of that negates the fact that businessmen prefer tackling waste to a rise in National Insurance.
* Buy The Blair Years online and raise cash for Labour http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.