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UK's Labour details pre-poll economic plan

17 february 2015, 14:24

 Britain's main opposition Labour party on Monday outlined its economic plan to try to woo middle-income voters ahead of an anticipated closely-fought election in May, AFP reports.

Labour leader Ed Miliband contrasted his plans with the policies of Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition government in the wake of a tax avoidance controversy sparked by last week's HSBC "SwissLeaks" allegations.

Miliband said his centre-left policies would be "pro-business but not business as usual", despite recent criticism of them by business leaders including the boss of chemist Boots, Stefano Pessina.

Labour often seeks to portray the Conservatives as the party of the wealthy and has criticised the centre-right Tories for appointing former HSBC chief executive Stephen Green as a junior minister in 2010.

Opinion polls indicate the general election on May 7 is too close to call, with many experts predicting that either the Conservatives or Labour will end up forming another coalition or minority government.

"We need a better plan to replace an economy where tens of billions are lost in tax avoidance with an economy where tens of thousands more of our young people are doing apprenticeships," Miliband said in a speech at the Jaguar Land Rover plant in Wolverhampton, central England.

He said that all 18-year-old school leavers who get the grades would be entitled to a place on an apprenticeship scheme, allowing them to learn a trade.

He also vowed that, under Labour, Britain would be a "strong and proud member of a reformed EU", adding that to leave the European bloc would be a "real threat to prosperity".

The centre-right Conservatives have promised to hold a referendum on leaving the European Union, Britain's largest trading partner, by 2017 if they win the election.

Labour were in power under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown from 1997 to 2010, when they lost the last general election and were replaced by the current coalition between Cameron's Conservatives and the centrist Liberal Democrats.

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