Jan 26 2014
Ed Balls has insisted Labour is not anti-business in the face of a furious backlash over his plans to re-introduce the 50p top rate of tax.
The shadow chancellor also said he was "proud" of the Labour government's public spending as he defended its record ahead of the financial crash.
Labour is pledging to reverse the income tax cut introduced by the Coalition for Britain's highest earners as it draws up plans to balance the books if it takes power in 2015.
The move has proved popular with voters but business leaders have warned it would put the economic recovery at risk.
Mr Balls told BBC 1's Andrew Marr Show: "We are a pro-business party. This is not an anti-business agenda but it's an anti-business as usual agenda."
He ruled out any further additional increase in the top rate under Labour but refused to give any outline of what proportion of his deficit reduction plan overall would come for tax hikes compared to public spending cuts.
"It's absolutely not back to the 1980s or the 1990s," he added. "I was part of a government which did very many things to open up markets, make the Bank of England independent, to work closely with business but the reality is we are in very difficult circumstances and because, if I'm honest with you, George Osborne's failure in the last few years, those difficult circumstances will now last well in to the next parliament."
Pressed on whether Labour should apologise for its level of public spending in government, Mr Balls said: "We didn't spend every pound of public money well but, to be honest, I'm really proud of what we did in our investment in the National Health Service, I'm really proud of the improvement in standards in schools, the extra police on the streets, what we did to tackle anti-social behaviour.
Asked if he would do it all again, Mr Balls replied: "There would be some spending things we wouldn't do, some spending things we would do differently, some areas where we would spend more.
"But do I think the level of public spending going into the crisis was a problem for Britain? No, I don't."
Mr Balls said although Labour was planning to strip wealthier pensioners of winter fuel payments it would not axe free bus passes or television licences.
"Free bus travel is actually very important and very liberating and we won't touch that," he said.