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Description: leaders have declared support for a Conservative-led government

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Bosses sign letter supporting Tories
« on: April 01, 2015, 01:01:06 PM »



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Bosses sign letter supporting Tories




More than 100 company leaders have declared support for a Conservative-led government in a letter published in the Daily Telegraph.

Signatories including former Dragons' Den star Duncan Bannatyne backed the move to lower corporation tax to 20%, which come into force on Wednesday.

Labour, which dismissed the letter, said it would prioritise lower business rates for small firms.

It is also set to promise a curb on "exploitative" zero-hours contracts.

Labour leader Ed Miliband told the BBC the "epidemic" of zero-hours contracts went to heart of the insecurity in the British economy, saying the economic recovery had "reached the City of London" but not working people.

In other developments in the election campaign:

BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said the letter to the Telegraph was a "significant intervention" with 36 days to go before the general election.

Leading figures to sign the letter include BP chief executive Bob Dudley, Prudential boss Tidjane Thiam and Nick Robertson, chief executive of ASOS.

Houses of Parliament


David Cowling, editor, BBC Political Research

YouGov's first poll following their Sunday 4% Labour lead had Conservative and Labour level-pegging on 35%; and TNS had the Conservatives one point ahead of Labour (33% v 32%) with UKIP on 16% - their highest figure in a campaign poll so far.

A ComRes poll of 40 Labour seats in Scotland confirmed other national polls, with a 19% swing from Labour to the SNP.

There was better news for Labour in two London-wide polls. ComRes had Labour on 46% and YouGov on 45%, with the Conservatives hovering around their 2010 share of 34%.

ComRes represented a 5.5% swing to Labour and YouGov a swing of 4%.

The Lib Dems were down from 22% in 2010 to 8% now.

UKIP continued to underperform in London with around 8-9%; and the Greens will be disappointed that they were on 4% in both polls in a city where they have performed better than average in the past.

BBC poll tracker


The business leaders, who signed the letter in a personal capacity, say that the present government had supported investment and job creation.

"We believe a change in course will threaten jobs and deter investment. This would send a negative message about Britain and put the recovery at risk," they said in the letter.

About 20 of the signatories are thought to be long-standing Conservative supporters.

But the paper said five signatories had previously supported New Labour: the entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne, the hotelier Surinder Arora, chairman of Dixons Carphone and Talk Talk Sir Charles Dunstone, theatrical producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh and businessman Moni Varma.

'Nothing new'

The headline rate of corporation tax - paid on company profits - has fallen steadily under the coalition government, down from 28% when it came to power in 2010.

The Conservatives say the UK has the most competitive corporate tax regime in the G7 but Labour say small firms have not benefited in the same way as multinationals and the rate should rise back to 21% to fund a cut in business rates on properties.

BBC business editor Kamal Ahmed and BBC economic editor Robert Peston

Expert views: By Kamal Ahmed and Robert Peston

It may surprise many that the first week of the election campaign has been dominated by politics' relationship with business.

The reason? Whatever the "anti-business" feeling among some of the public - linked, of course, to the financial crisis - politicians believe that the backing of chief executives is a positive.

Read more from business editor Kamal Ahmed

Neither business leaders nor economists have a monopoly of wisdom on what's good for Britain or are free from political bias.

But it is perhaps therefore all the more important to remember that those paid to think about how best an economy should be run don't necessarily agree with those paid to run companies.

Read more from economics editor Robert Peston


Chuka Umunna, Labour's shadow business secretary, said: "No one will be surprised that some business people are calling for low taxes for big businesses.

"That's nothing new and under Labour Britain will have the most competitive corporation tax rate in the G7.

"But whilst the recovery may have reached some firms it hasn't reached many others which is why we will prioritise tax cuts for the smallest firms with an immediate cut in business rates for 1.5 million small business premises."

However, Chancellor George Osborne said the message "could not be clearer" about who was trusted more by the business community.

"An intervention on this scale and with this clarity from Britain's business leaders is unprecedented in any recent general election," he said.

At a campaign event in Yorkshire, Labour leader Ed Miliband will say a Labour government would guarantee "zero-hours" workers the right to a regular contract after 12 weeks, rather than a year under its previous policy.

On a zero-hours contract, an employee is only paid for the hours the employer needs them, meaning they are not guaranteed any work.

"Zero-hours contracts is just one example of the insecurity in our economy and what has happened in the last five years," Mr Miliband told the BBC.

"If we didn't know from one week to the next how many hours we were going to be getting, how much we were getting paid, we would not think that was security for ourselves or our family."

Scottish battle

Under the changes, which have been welcomed by the unions, Labour said more than 90% of existing zero-hours contracts would be banned.

But Conservative sources said nearly 40% of those on zero-hours contracts worked full time and the CBI said the proposal was "wide of the mark".

"Of course action should be taken to tackle abuses, but demonising flexible contracts is playing with the jobs that many firms and many workers value and need," said director-general John Cridland.

As the election campaign moves up a gear in Scotland, Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy accused the SNP - who are leading comfortably in the polls - of being "David Cameron's little helpers" and "getting in the way" of his party's attempts to win a majority in Westminster.

"The first ball has just been kicked," he told Radio 4's Today programme. "We are not even at half-time let alone the final whistle. We can turn it around."

* Subscribe to the BBC Election 2015 newsletter to get a round-up of the day's campaign news sent to your inbox every weekday afternoon.


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