Derek Simpson backs moderate to lead Unite
Leaked emails over Mike Hancock scandal
David Miliband tipped for top EU job
87% of MPs raking it in with second jobs
David Cameron exclusive interview
"Red Ed" negotiates a minefield
"Red" Ed's knife-edge win
Don't strike over cuts, says union boss
Harman blocks Gordon Brown's farewell honours
Child benefit for older kids faces axe
Ed Miliband edges ahead of bruv in Labour leadership race
Slash forward

RADICAL cuts to haul Britain out of economic decline are being drawn up by the Tory party.
Shadow Chancellor George Osborne is putting together detailed policies to SLASH Britain’s £845billion debt mountain.
And he plans to get Britain “open for business” again with a raft of measures to help firms drive the recovery.
The economy will inevitably be the cornerstone of the election campaign kicked off by David Cameron yesterday. The Conservative leader warned: “To have a hope of competing in the decades to come our economy needs a complete overhaul.
“We need change right across the board: Tax, regulation, banking infrastructure. If we win this year’s election Britain will be under new economic management.
“We will send out the loudest signal that this country is back open for business and ready for investment.”
The Tories have been slated for failing to set out detailed plans. Party insiders admit they are determined to win the election without making too many hard-to- keep promises.
But they know they must put some meat on the bones if they are to seal the deal with voters.
Osborne hasn’t ruled out tax rises but says “the bulk of the strain” in tackling the debt crisis must come from public spending cuts. Among the plans he is looking at are:
 PRODUCING a “Beveridge-style” report on the state’s role. The landmark Beveridge report led to creation of the NHS.
 REFORMING the unaffordably generous public sector pension scheme, ending the “apartheid” with private pensions; ABOLISHING middle-class benefits such as child tax credits.
 REINING IN expensive programmes such as education maintenance allowances and diverting Sure Start cash to health visitors.
 DITCHING the favourable tax treatment of corporate debt to discourage unsustainable borrowing;
SLAPPING hefty tax increases on strong beer, cider and alcopops; and INTRODUCING new “green” taxes to encourage environmentally-friendly behaviour.
 SELLING OFF national assets and cancelling “big ticket” items such as expensive defence projects.
Osborne also plans measures to help set up and grow businesses. The Tories have already announced plans for a National Loans Guarantee Scheme with £50bn to get credit flowing.
They also plan to let struggling firms defer VAT bills, halt planned National Insurance hikes, cut Corporation Tax to 20 per cent and help firms hiring new staff with £2.6bn of tax breaks.
Other measures are planned to cut red tape. Osborne wants to slash the number of regulators and ensure all new rulings are costed before being introduced. His team is also looking at controversial ways to cut spending in big government departments.
Tory think-tanks want them to increase police working hours and scale back the bobbies’ generous pensions. In education, they could axe classroom assistants and they also hope to curb the rocketing NHS pay of GPs and consultants.
Cameron will set out his health plans tomorrow when he publishes the first chapter of the Tories’ draft manifesto.



    Keeping one eye on the rest of the web
  Westminster blog spy