Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate asking for our vote this General Election, is accused by his opponents of many things but one thing nobody can take away from him is that he is a good campaigner. Having met him a few times as a result of writing this blog I've always found him very hard not to like on a personal level and that makes him a formidable opponent for Andy Slaughter in this knife edge battle.
So getting the backing of 50 small businesses in and around Shepherd's Bush and Hammersmith for a campaign he is running against the proposed National Insurance increase of 1% is no small feat when every vote counts.
Small traders were invited to respond to a letter, from Bailey, attacking the proposed rise and asking them to put their name to his campaign. 50 of them did just that and he is now understandably trumpeting their support for his cause. Speaking to the Chronicle he said:
"Small businesses play an extremely important role in the economic health of our country and the health of our communities. The National Insurance increase means it will cost more for small businesses to stay afloat and ultimately it will cost people their jobs."
I haven't seen a response to this from Andy Slaughter as yet, but on his website he quotes the Institute of Fiscal Studies who said this about the Tory plans to avoid the NI rise:
"The conservatives claim that the spending cuts can, in effect, be rendered painless by efficiency savings that they say their advisers have identified. Whether or not that is true, using the bulk of these spending cuts to finance the NI cut means that they are not available to contribute to the task of reducing government borrowing that the conservatives have set such store by. Reducing the deficit more quickly than the Government plans to will therefore require even greater cuts to public services spending, or to greater reliance on welfare cuts or tax increases that might be as economically costly as the NI increases they are seeking to mitigate".
For Shepherd's Bush I would think it was worth making two points. First and most obviously, what business would want to be in favour of a tax increase anyway but second this is probably more important to the Bush than it might seem.
For months now I have been running a series of posts called "Recession Bush" - listing the various victims of the recession as the "closed" signs and boarded windows went up, along the Askew and Uxbridge Roads. Whether you think the proposed NI increase is right or wrong, local voters who have seen the impact of these closures may listen very closely to what's being said about this subject indeed.