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More top execs turn on Labour over NI hike

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 02 April 2010

More top executives have backed Tory proposals to cancel a planned rise in National Insurance (NI) contributions.

David Cameron (Getty)

Labour is on the "wrong side of working people and British business" the Conservative leader David Cameron claimed today - after another 14 business leaders endorsed the Tories' promise to scrap Labour's planned National Insurance increases.

Their support comes as a fresh blow to the Labour party, which is keen to portray the Conservatives as lacking "credibility" on economic policy.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has accused the 37 business leaders of being 'deceived' by the Conservative pledge.

A letter published yesterday by 23 company bosses - including the heads of Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury's and Diageo - backed the Conservatives' pledge to scrap part of the planned NI increase should they win power.

Their support for the Tories was followed last night by 14 more executives - including McLaren boss Ron Dennis, HMV chief executive Simon Fox, and entrepreneur Brent Hoberman, a member of Mr Brown's Business Council for Britain.

Hailing their intervention, David Cameron said: "They are saying there is no threat to the recovery from cutting waste in 2010 but there is a threat to the recovery from putting up National Insurance contributions."

But Labour suggested the plans could only be afforded if VAT was raised after the election instead, publishing a dossier setting out £22bn worth of Tory policy promises it said were uncosted.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: "Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne are peddling a deception on businesses up and down the country and on the British people, and it's one that they are aware of. The truth is that this is a cynical deception."

Several executives hit back, insisting the planned hike would be a "tax on jobs" that would damage the economic recovery and accused Lord Mandelson of being "patronising" in his criticism.

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