FORMER Stroud MP David Drew has backed his party’s pledge to increase taxes on wealthy individuals earning more than £150,000 a year.

The veteran Labour Party politician and prospective Parliamentary candidate believes it is only right that ‘the better off’ contribute towards cutting the deficit and he has voiced his hope that the so-called ‘millionaire’s tax’ would allow Ed Miliband to reverse some of the Coalition’s public spending cuts after the next election.

Speaking to the SNJ following shadow chancellor Ed Balls’ announcement over the weekend that a future Labour government would reinstate the 50p top rate of income tax, Mr Drew said it was ‘unfair’ that the burden of austerity had fallen on families on middle and lower incomes, whilst the richest in society had been largely shielded from the after-effects of the financial crisis.

“I’m very glad that Labour has promised to reintroduce the 50p top rate of income tax. We have got to have a tax policy which is properly progressive and our tax policy in this country has not been progressive enough over the last 20 years,” he said.

“It is only right that people who are better off do their bit to deal with the deficit and hopefully it will mean we are able to reverse some of the public spending cuts after the next general election.

“How can you possibly say ‘we are all in it together’ when the better off have been protected but those people on middle and lower incomes have had to bear the brunt of the austerity measures?

“It is unfair and it is not good economics, let alone politics I would ever associate myself with.”

However, Stroud MP Neil Carmichael, who is in favour of retaining the lower 45p threshold for top earners, said Labour was ‘flailing around’ by promising to raise taxes on the wealthiest.

With growth returning to the economy, the Tory politician said the Government’s economic plan was clearly working and he suggested that tax rises could place the fledgling recovery in jeopardy.

“To be talking about increasing taxes at this time is reckless,” he said.

“I do not think the existing top rate of tax is too low and if Labour were being honest with the country then they would have to admit that between 1997 and 2010 they had a lower top tax rate than we have now.

“As we are starting to grow, as good news is coming from all directions, as people are investing in manufacturing and the service sector it seems that the gearing we currently have must be about right.”

The 50p tax band for those with an income of £150,000 a year or more was created by the previous Labour government in 2010, but controversially cut to 45p by the incumbent Coalition government last April.