Ed Miliband has defended the credibility of Labour’s economic vision as he set out plans that the party says will create more than 100,000 new jobs.
At a media conference flanked by shadow chancellor Ed Balls, Mr Miliband appealed to the Government to reinstate Alistair Darling’s bonus tax on the banks and use the money to boost the economy.
The pair revealed Labour’s economic proposals ahead of the Government’s Budget next Wednesday.
Mr Miliband told Sky’s Adam Boulton: “The two tests for George Osborne are about the cost of living – because I think there is a cost of living crisis facing ordinary families in this country, partly caused by the government – and economic growth.
“The economy has gone into reverse in terms of growth.”
According to Labour, the bank bonus tax – on top of the banking levy implemented by the coalition – would bring in an additional £2bn.
Mr Miliband and Mr Balls revealed Labour’s economic plans ahead of the Budget
The funds could then be spent on homebuilding, which would provide a boost to the construction industry, youth employment and helping the regional growth fund.
The party also wants the Chancellor to reverse the VAT rise on fuel, which went up from 17.5% to 20% in January.
Labour has urged all MPs to join them in voting for an immediate cut in VAT on fuel in Parliament on Wednesday.
Journalists repeatedly pressed the Labour leader on what he would do in place of the overall VAT rise, something he has refused to set out despite insisting increasing VAT is the wrong economic call.
The news conference was also notable for stoking the row between Labour’s leadership and the Liberal Democrats over the alternative vote (AV) referendum.
I think the best thing Nick can do is lie low for a bit on AV and let the people who are going to help us win the referendum do so.
Ed Miliband, speaking on the Boulton & Co programme
Mr Miliband said Charles Kennedy had been stood down from a pro-AV event alongside the Labour leader because Nick Clegg felt he should be there instead.
Mr Miliband said he would not share a platform with the Deputy Prime Minister because in his view, Mr Clegg “wouldn’t help win” the vote.
But he told journalists, the Lib Dem leader had been “worried” about the proposed event going ahead without him.
It is clear there is no love lost between Mr Miliband and Mr Clegg, the two most prominent supporters of AV.
The situation can only give heart to those campaigning to maintain the existing electoral system of first-past-the-post.
A recent YouGov/Sky News poll found there was public support for AV – but nearly a quarter of those surveyed had not yet decided which way they would vote on May 5.