General Election 2015

Conservative candidate defects to UKIP as parties clash over tax proposals

David Cameron's speech on tax and benefit changes.  Image: screen grab from video posted on Conservatives' YouTube channel.

David Cameron’s speech on tax and benefit changes. Image: screen grab from video posted on Conservatives’ YouTube channel.

  • Conservative candidate for Hull, Mike Whitehead, defects to UKIP
  • Party leaders clash over tax policies
  • The Conservatives face harsh criticism over public spending
  • Tony Blair to warn against a Conservative victory

Conservative candidate for Hull, Mike Whitehead, defects to UKIP

Conservative candidate for Hull West and Hessle, Mike Whitehead, has defected to UKIP.

Mr Whitehead said he was ‘disgusted’ with the behaviour of the Conservatives in the Tory-held East Yorkshire seat and the ‘wilful refusal’ of the party to intervene at a national level.

He said he had been concerned about the way the local council Conservative group in Hull have operated ‘against the interests of the local residents’ for some time

He also criticised the Conservatives for not being transparent enough.

The Conservatives say they had fired Mr Whitehead last week.

They say he allegedly expressed his intention to run against Conservative candidates as an independent in the local elections while also running as a Conservative parliamentary candidate in another constituency.

But UKIP’s communications officer for London rejects the Tory claim.

Sky News’ Politics Reporter Darren McCaffrey, Tweeted:

UKIP claiming if Mike Whitehead sacked why was his profile still on @Conservatives website until this morning.

Mr Whitehead said the party knew he was planning to join UKIP.

He claims his dismissal was an attempt to pre-empt his defection.

Commenting on the row, Prime Minister David Cameron said:

This election is not a time to send a message or make a protest … If you vote UKIP, if you vote for another minor party, you end up with the risk of Ed Miliband, propped up by Nicola Sturgeon driving him into even more spending, welfare, debt, bloat, all the problems.

Party leaders clash over tax policies

At an event in Bristol, Mr Cameron insisted that his party would not raise VAT, income tax, or national insurance.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls doesn’t agree, and he’s convinced the Conservatives will cut the top rate of income tax for those earning more than £150,000 from 45p to 40p.

We know that is their secret plan – another big tax cut for millionaires. How can this be fair when we need to get the deficit down and the Tories are now planning deeper cuts in the next three years than the last five?

But outgoing Financial Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke said:

Already Ed Balls has been forced to admit that Labour will drag a million more hardworking taxpayers into the 40p income tax rate. The reality is Labour also need a National Insurance rise to make their sums add up.

Mr Cameron said:

This isn’t one or two people being hit – it’s nearly a million more people paying the 40% tax under Labour. Britain would pay a heavy price for a Labour government, and it would start with you and your pay packet.

Labour has released a new General Election poster that claims under Conservative-led governments ‘millions pay more, millionaires pay less’.

Mr Balls launched the poster, citing figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies that suggest families are an average £1,100 worse-off as a result of tax and benefit changes under the coalition government.

Mr Clegg has criticised both parties.

He called the Labour tax plan ‘economically illiterate’, and said taxes for millionaires weren’t cut further because his party wouldn’t allow it.

He also said:

The only consistent thing about the Conservative stance on tax is their bewildering inconsistency. They started at the beginning of the parliament – they wanted to give inheritance tax breaks to millionaires. Then they wanted to give tax breaks to people to give up their employment rights, then they wanted to impose a penalty on people who choose not to get married.

Mr Clegg has rebuked the Conservatives for claiming credit for the latest retirement and tax allowance measures.

He said:

Have you ever worked with someone who tries to pass off your good ideas as their own? That’s what it very much feels like with the Conservatives, certainly when it comes to tax. All of those changes, which all come into effect right now – today and this week – are changes that only happen because the Liberal Democrats went into government.

The Conservatives face harsh criticism over public spending

Lib Dem outgoing Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has accused Mr Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne of ‘breathtaking hypocrisy’.

Mr Osborne’s former deputy claimed was told during the 2012 budget talks to ‘look after the workers while the Tories looked after the bosses’.

In March 2012 when the economy was still in the very early stages of recovery we wanted to do a very big increase in the personal allowance to put a lot of money back into folk’s pockets. The Tories priority at the time was the top rate of tax. I remember one meeting with a group of senior Conservatives and one of them – I’m not going to say who – said ‘listen you take care of the workers and we’ll take care of the bosses’. That really spelt out where their priorities lay.

The Conservatives roundly deny making the comment.

Mr Clegg also criticised Mr Osborne.

He described the chancellor as a ‘very dangerous man’ whose plan to balance the books through public spending reductions alone would result in economic ‘disaster’.

Tony Blair to warn against a Conservative victory

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair will give a speech warning against a Conservative majority in the new parliament.

He is expected to be particularly critical of the threat the Tories pose to Britain leaving the European Union.

Job, investment, and economic insecurity would be the result of a conservative victory.

He has also praised Mr Miliband for standing up for what he believes even when they’re not popular.

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