Conservative leader David Cameron has pledged to put Britain's economic stability above any desire to reduce taxes if his party regains power.
Mr Cameron says economic stability comes first, second and third
He said Tories would forge a low-tax economy "over time", but "stability and responsibility come first".
Shadow chancellor George Osborne later said in a speech the party planned "to share the proceeds of growth between public services and lower taxes".
This would make the UK more competitive and protect public services, he said.
'Foot on windpipe'
In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Cameron said: "When it comes to the economy, I am absolutely clear that stability and responsibility come first, second and third as our priorities - and that they come before the commitment to cut taxes."
The Tory leader rounded on Chancellor Gordon Brown, who he said was "pressing his foot on the windpipe of British business and the UK economy".
Mr Cameron said higher taxes and regulation were creating a "slow furring up of the arteries of the British economy".
Despite economic growth, he said "the danger is that Gordon's goose is going to crush their golden egg."
Of his previous call for Tories not to just stand up for business, but to business, he told the newspaper: "I just want to correct the perception that the Conservative Party is merely a mouthpiece for business. It isn't."
He said the party "believes in open markets, it believes in free trade, but nothing and no-one should be above the law".
Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats' treasury spokesman, said the Conservatives had just "realised you cannot promise spending increases, tax cuts and economic stability all at the same time".
"Now they have accepted that there isn't any scope for across-the-board tax cuts, how would they make the tax system fairer? Who will pay more if the poorest are to pay less? If spending priorities will be protected, which areas of public spending will be cut?" he asked.
"Only when they are able to answer these questions can we take David Cameron's words at face value."
Meanwhile Rupert Murdoch said the Tory leader should worry less about image and present a "real alternative" to win power.
While describing Mr Cameron as "bright" the News Corporation chairman told BBC Radio 5 Live he needed to present more "facts and some real policies".
Mr Murdoch also criticised the Labour government for running a "nanny state".
News Corporation owns The Times and The Sun - which has backed Labour at the last three elections.