The Labour Party has unveiled its key economic pledges, saying it will end the boom-bust cycle of the past.
Among the promises on Labour's six point pledge card are an inflation target of 2% and an increase in the minimum wage.
Conservative leader Michael Howard has promised voters greater control over their money. He has also given a commitment to lower taxes, but details will be revealed later in the campaign.
The Lib Dems want a new 50p rate of income tax on the highest earners.
What do you think of Labour's economic pledges? Who do you trust on tax? Send us your views.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
The fact that unemployment has now risen for four consecutive months shows that Mr Blair's so-called strong, stable economy has started to head for the rocks. We need a Conservative government before we hit those rocks and higher interest rates and taxes don't start to drown us all.
I feel poorer under Labour than I ever did under the Tories. I can't afford to buy a house, I have credit card debts. It seems the only way to get a fair deal under Labour is to get married and have at least one child. The more children you have, the better. What about the hard working single people?
Scott, Warrington, UK
People and business people. The government does not run the economy, The independent Bank sets interest rates and companies make products and profits. The EU sets our laws. The only thing that the government does is tax and spend and in that respect to win votes they can only promise more and not less.
Gordon Brown has generally done a good job of running the economy, so far. However, it's going to get tough after the election. The budget deficit has ballooned, while the Treasury's economic forecasts look fanciful. So it seems inevitable that the tax burden will have to increase again to pay for Labour's ambitious spending increases. While I agree with spending more on the NHS and schools - I don't like the idea of throwing money at organisations without careful planning.
To all the people who are worrying that the Conservatives will take us back to high interest rates again - remember it was because the of the ERM which is membership of the Euro by another name. If you don't want history to repeat itself - don't vote Labour or Lib Dem.
I don't know why everyone is harping on about control of the economy, interest rates and inflation. The base rate is decided by the Bank of England and the Chancellor has no input into this. Labour claiming that it steered the UK away from a global recession is nonsense. Any party in power would have had the same results as the groundwork for the stable economy was put in place by Kenneth Clarke. Gordon Brown simply picked up the baton.
The answer has to be that the Bank of England will run the economy best. The reason the economy is doing well is that professionals not politicians are at the helm.
Bill Clinton said "It's the economy, stupid." If the economy grows at long-term trend of 2.5% each year then it works. The question is who should spend the extra wealth and who should decide where it goes?
Angus Gill, Northumberland
Strong economy say New Labour? What about mountains of debt both nationally and on a personal level for many?
Geoff Clowes, UK
The Conservative tax and public spending plans do not add up. I dislike the negative aspects of their campaign and am concerned at student loans being set at the commercial rate.
The Lib/Dems appear to say different things to people in different areas and appear inconsistent.
Labour has given us economic stability and jobs. Some of us can remember the bad days of the last Tory government and do not want to go back to those days.
My vote goes to Labour.
Brian Simpson, Warrington
Whichever party promises to reduce taxes and government spending gets my vote. I've no confidence in civil servants knowing how to spend my hard earned cash; so give it back to me in the form of tax cuts and I'll spend it myself. If there's one thing I've learned in my life it's that if you give any form of Government (local, national) a lot of cash, you get only one result - a lot of wasted cash.
How can the Conservatives maintain that Labour are the party of higher taxation when according to OECD figures the burden in 2003 was just 35.3% of GDP. During the last Conservative administration it never fell below 40%.
G Tiplady, Cambridge
I really object to the term 'Tax burden'. My taxes are definitely the best investment I've ever made!
I am 17 and study economics, Gordon Brown is the one I look up to. Labour losing the election will have a devastating effect on the economy. Michael Howard has no argument, no clear point and will bring a hold to the UK - we want it to move not to slow down. Everyone makes mistakes, Blair is only human.
Kirandeep Dhiman, Leicester
Under a Labour government I have paid over ten thousand pounds to get a degree and now find I am priced out of the property market. Thanks Tony! You've lost my vote.
Think before you vote - remember high interest rates, repossessions, negative equity, high unemployment, pitiful pubic services, all in the name of low taxes. I for one don't want to go back there.
With regard to immigration it does seem that Gordon Brown's plans for an expanding economy are only possible with very high levels of immigration (150,000 per year) while those of the other parties for a stable economy require more modest and controlled levels with selection of skills.
The Tories keep going on about tax rises under Labour. I am a postman with 3 children of school age and in receipt of tax credits that basically gives me a tax burden of 0. My heaviest year of a tax burden was under the Tories with the poll tax.
Adrian Loftus, Newark
The "successful" economy is an illusion, it is funded by borrowing, taxes on borrowing and inflated property prices not genuine wealth creation. Sooner or later this bubble will burst and whoever is in government will have serious problems to deal with. The Conservatives are the most likely to start addressing the causes of these looming problems.
Tony Metcalfe, Kirkby Stephen
I am a pensioner and the only thing the Tories ever gave me was a tax on my heating and cooking. Labour at least did reduce it.
Remember a Conservative is someone who demands fair shares for the rich.
Ray, Coventry, UK
Poor public services; appalling transport issues; huge public sector; credit out of control. Brown/Blair's 'sound economic policies'. Who are they kidding?
The Tory's legacy of recession after recession speaks for itself.
Gordon Brown is squandering borrowed money. Oliver Letwin has far greater experience in running the economy than Brown
Audrey, Dorchester, UK
The Labour party have always been the party of high taxes and economic incompetence. Although they have repaired this reputation to a degree; it is inevitable that Gordon Brown will further put up the taxes of the middle classes which continue to end up left behind under a Labour government
Brown has led the economy well during a troubled time worldwide.
But he shouldn't be afraid to raise the taxes of the rich to help the us less fortunate ones
Danny McLennan, Guiseley
Gordon Brown is, by far, the best Chancellor of modern times - his Achilles heel is Tony Blair. Gordon has an integrity which is mostly hidden behind the vain image and opportunistic antics of his discredited Prime Minister. Gordon Brown for P.M.
John Weston, Taunton
I remember when the Tories were last in power. They policy for low inflation was to have high unemployment. They said you could not have full employment with low inflation but they didn't even try! Those were the darks days of no minimum wage, high unemployment, "boom and bust" and high interest rates. Are you thinking what we're thinking? Only in my worst nightmares.
Michael Brown, Basingstoke, Hampshire
The Liberal Democrats would probably run the economy best, but the Tories would repair the damage of the last 8 years.
David Garner, Hinckley, Leics
All of Labours economic success is attributable to the previous Conservative government. For the first five years they changed nothing significant. Now that they've actually tried a bit look what's happened. Having robbed the country blind, they have achieved the square root of absolutely nothing.
Steve Fenwick, Yeovil, England
I guess after eight years with the same man, it can be so easy to become complacent. It's just as Blair continues to say: the future, or back to boom and bust. Mind you, today's world economy is less tolerant to tumbling, so if anybody goes bust they will stay down there in the trough for a while. As was once said: those who forget their past are condemned to repeat it.
Richard, Southampton, UK
Unfortunately Labour has lied over tuition fees and taxes. They are planning to put up National Insurance and council tax to pay for more bureaucrats to control us. You can only trust them to spend on quangos and put up taxes.
Chris Lewis, Milton Keynes
Do the electorate believe any of the political parties spending plans? The plans all change when a party gets into power. The only issue is whether the electorate want higher taxation under Labour or lower taxation under the Tories.
Kenneth, Wallington, UK
Are you remembering what I am remembering? If not, ask your parents about sky high mortgage interest rates.
Anthony Jaynes, Tredegar, Wales
I do not believe Labour. They have not kept their promises. I would trust the Tories on tax. There is too much wastage in local government.
J Copleston, UK
I strongly feel that the Labour government is best suited to run the economy under the leadership of Gordon Brown who so far has done a very good job of the running of the budget. I hope to see him as prime minister one day.
Gordon Lyew, Ladywood, Birmingham
Labour is using National Insurance in the next term to shore up their spending plans. The money we pay in NI will not be for our future state pension but the inefficient expenditure that this government continuously makes. Yes people: they have found another way to tax us to the hilt.
Labour tell us that under their stewardship that interest rates are down. My first thought was that my tax burden had doubled. Improvement in services- they had already started by 1997. Who will run the economy best? Not Labour.
Steve, St Neots
Gordon Brown has made a real success of the economy so let him continue: why let the Conservatives make a mess of it like it was under Margaret Thatcher.
Mary Thorpe, UK
Despite record employment levels, as soon as a factory closes down, all the Tories come out of the woodwork and say that this explodes the myth of a great economy. These people need to think before mouthing off. Manufacturing in this country is in terminal decline because we can't compete with the lower wages and standards offered by developing economies. Labour policies of creating a knowledge-based economy with science and innovation at its heart are the only way that British manufacturing will be able to compete. Maybe the Tories will rip into this tier of "unnecessary" fat government.
Will any of he parties say what they intend to do about the festering sore of personal debt? Massive debts have been created in this "want it all now" society. Credit card debts, personal loans, student loans and mortgages will all have to be repaid one day. Will it be tomorrow? Who has the capital which is backing these debts? Is it in Britain or Overseas? How long can this state of affairs be allowed to continue?
Ken Harrison, Christchurch, Dorset
Would you like your mortgage interest increased to 15 per cent? Vote Tory. Fiction? Not at all. They have managed it before.
J Westerman, Leeds. UK
Brown boasts of his successes but under Labour we have ceased to be a manufacturing nation as Rover proves. He has over-regulated industry, allowed the Bank to run interest rates twice as high as the US or EU and this has forced sterling to be far more expensive than is justified by our economic importance. According to the economist Big Mac index it is 40% overvalued. These three needless burdens are crucifying British industry. Labour MPs must lose their jobs or we all will lose ours.
Jonathan Munday, London
Would Brown like to receive a state pension as at present? Pensioners have to rely on handouts.
It seems to me that the Conservative's spending plans are much less risky than Labour's. The growth in the Conservative spending proposals is only slightly below Labour's but will result in lower public borrowing and tax burden, without a significant cut-back in services. Surely that is good housekeeping.
Mark Jones, Alresford, Hampshire
The Greens, because they've a much longer term view and a much greater sense of the value of things (including our planet) rather than the price of things.
I have been incredibly fortunate to have begun my working life under this Labour government - I have never been out of work, I have bought my own house - mainly due to low interest rates and a stable economy. Whatever you think about Labour this area is one that they have got right BIG time
Toby Ahern, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
The Tories jump on every bandwagon and agree with every spending the Labour Party make but at the same time promise to "cut waste". A government's job is to govern and that costs money
Iain D Monaghan, Brighton
Borrowing billions of pounds to run the government doesn't strike me as running the economy efficiently. The Conservatives in the 80s created the boom that Labour is trying to take credit for now so, to answer the question at hand, I'd have to say the Tories.
P Bainbridge, expat in Canada
The Tories may not be liked, but at least they know what they are doing. There is absolutely nothing better now than it was in 1997.
Paul S, Lichfield
Only the people can run the economy the best. Government can, by its very definition, only impede the free exchange of goods and services either through taxation or regulation. If you want a booming economy with jobs and higher wages, get rid of the high taxes and over regulation. It has worked everytime.
Michael S. Nowak, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
I have not yet decided for whom I shall vote, but I cannot understand why Labour is rated so far ahead of the Tories in polls regarding the economy. Brown has done nothing exceptional; the current stability and growth we enjoy started long before he became chancellor, and though we have not yet felt the pain from his excessive borrowing, it will inevitably arrive soon. We should remember that the consequences of chancellors' decisions are rarely felt immediately.
Matthew Tointon, Alderholt, Dorset, UK
All you seem to hear is how Gordon Brown is doing a great job. Why? He sold our gold reserves off cheap. He is borrowing more and more to pay for his policies. Unemployment is down only because the state is getting bigger whilst our manufacturing is slowly dying. Taxes will have to go up with Labour and we pay enough already. Get rid of all those new quangos which Labour like for all their cronies. That is how the Conservatives will save our money. Remember Labour always equals tax and spend and waste.
Anybody can run a great economy when the average household since the inception of this government is paying £5,000 a year more than in 1997! Even with all the wastage they have created!
Bob, Exeter UK
Labour has done a great job, but it is worrying that there are so many local government employees now and tens of thousands of lower paid jobs vacant. There's a real skills shortage, not of six month wonders, or graduates, but craft skills which has not been addressed for too many years. This will cause the economy great pain in the coming five year term, probably start to show within the next 12 months, hence the early election.
Iain Steven, Bridge of Weir, UK
Gordon Brown has done a fairly good job with the economy, much better than I imagine the Conservatives would. It is such a shame his colleague Premier Blair has performed so poorly in running all other affairs of the nation.
Matt Brown, Glasgow, UK
Conservatives will run it best. If labour are re-elected, it will be Brussels running our economy once they've signed us up to the euro and everything else that comes out of the EU.
Christopher, Plymouth, England
I can't say I'm surprised that those who regard the Tories as the party for the economy also regard anybody unfortunate enough to have to claim our meagre benefits as lazy. Rather than revelling in their own good fortune they'd rather whinge and blame it all on the poor. The Tories are fine if you're wealthy and privileged, but if you're poor, ill, or working class watch out.
Greg Brown, Norwich
Labour certainly won't. Look back in history to the end of WW2. Labour came to power, ruined the economy and got us in debt. The Conservatives then had to come to power and clean up the mess. It's happened every time, and it will happen this time.
Lester Stunner, UK
Labour is playing the economy card in this election but as Tony is standing down in his next term and Gordon is best placed to take over, we should really be asking who will be Gordon's successor as Chancellor and do we trust this person?
Christopher White, Newbury
If the economy is so good, why is Mr Brown borrowing so much? Rover's woes have come at a bad time, but I'm sure this government can invent another 20,000 state-sponsored jobs for them. This is the road to ruin (again).
If economic ignorance was an Olympic event then these web-site "experts" would be weighed down with gold. I always wonder why people trot out the tired "they are all the same" nonsense when talking about politicians; could it be that they are too idle and myopic in thought to actually tell the difference? If I were a politician I would despair at the sad state of knowledge shown on virtually every major issue affecting lives in this country. I certainly believe that it is the "great British public" who should look a little closer at themselves when they cast around for a passing political scapegoat.
Michael Beale, Birmingham
This 'economic stability' is an illusion, as is the 'low unemployment'. At a recent family get-together, I realised with horror that about 50% of our family and friends work for local government! This is crazy - these are non-productive jobs, paid for directly from taxes. This explained Gordon Brown's massive borrowing. Anyone who remembers what happened under the Labour government of the 70s knows it can lead only in one direction. I'll be voting Conservative.
Andy J, Manchester,
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are as guilty of gerrymandering votes as the Conservatives of Westminster were locally. They are bribing the "breeding classes" with child tax credits and nothing jobs in local government. Why should the future children work when they can earn so much on benefits or doing non-productive local government jobs? Get someone in who will wield a big axe to the cost of government expenditure and stop this blatant bribery.
Christine Swain, Ramsgate, Kent
Mr Letwin or Mr Brown? Is there really a choice? Gordon Brown guided us through the most harrowing of financial times and gave us all a soft landing, Oliver Letwin would have messed up big time; he is the most ineffectual politician I can think of and the most unsuitable person for chancellor. I would not trust Oliver Letwin as far as I could throw a grand piano and that isn't very far!
I believe Gordon Brown is the best Chancellor since Roy Jenkins. He has done a good job so far, so why change?
Joan Harris, Chester England
Labour are increasing taxes through stealth measures, and unions are getting more active again. Although I was not born the last time Labour was in power, I do not want to return to the economic mess and winter of discontent of under Labour's previous attempt at running the economy.
Although tax has increased under labour, Gordon Brown has stabilised the economy giving us one of the longest sustained periods of growth in history. With him as Chancellor or as Prime Minister I would support labour. If Gordon Brown is removed then I will transfer back to the Conservatives even though they do not have the charismatic personalities of 'New' Labour.
Darren Coan, Basildon
The idea that Labour provide a stable economic environment is just plain daft. Try asking the 6,000 recently sacked Birmingham Rover workers how economically stable they feel! Try to explain to students (like me) that economic stability means the privatisation of education and widespread course closures! If the economy is really that good, then give us universal grants for students, restoration of the link between pensions and earnings and an end to the privatisation of our welfare state. Vote Respect, the only alternative.
Gordon Brown's proven pedigree over the last 8 years vs Oliver Letwin who runs for cover and hides behind Michael Howard's coat tails at the slightest hint of a challenge. It's not a contest, it's a complete mismatch!
Chris Brown, Leicester
If the economy was so great under Labour, why is Brown thrashing around after Rover? Surely if the economy was good, alternative jobs would be plentiful!
Alfie Noakes, North of England
Is the economy a result of John Major's efforts in 1992 or Gordon Brown's in 1997? Realistically, Brown has simply continued with Major's policies. Which means our boom years are a Tory bequest rather than a Labour innovation.
Simon Mallett, Maidstone
What people forget is that the Labour party inherited the present economic stability from the last Conservative government, so it would appear that both parties can handle the economy. The decision should rest on which party can be believed to fulfil its manifesto promises and not switch policy once elected.
Roger Cope, Burton upon Trent
For me, it is not who will run the economy best, but rather who will do the least amount of damage.
Phillip Evans, Wales
The election hopefully will be decided by the grey voters because they are the ones most likely to turn up. At 70 I have learned that governments are not very good at running businesses like GB Plc, but that the Conservatives are the least bad and more likely to get value for money. Labour have always wasted money and Lib Dems have no idea at all.
Peter Collins, Trowbridge
Cast your minds back to 1996. Was the economy a shambles? Was there mass unemployment? Are economic conditions really vastly different 9 years later? If we live in the past, like anti-conservatives, then the Callaghan government would've been enough to put people off Labour for eternity!
Brown is a socialist through and through. His code is "Equal distribution of unequal earnings". The Liberal Democrats lost my vote before I could exercise it, with their candidate having less of a grasp of economics than the room of 15/16 year olds he was talking to (I almost felt sorry for him when the economics/politics teacher got started). Letwin appears to know what he is doing and is smart enough to leave behind the excesses of Thatcherism. Conservative it is.
A Sweeting, Leicester
In 2001, Mr Brown gave the Bank of England its independence - a Lib Dem idea. What is the probability Mr Brown introduces a 50p rate of income tax in 2005? Given the state of public finances, quite high I would think.
Why do I not see any views expressed by Green or other small party supporters? Yes, I know the reality is that it's a three horse race but the 'Election 2005' question is which party will bring economic stability and who can we trust on tax? So why are there not more varied views being presented?
Garth W. Carthy, Yarm, England
Labour have mis-manged the economy. Taxes are too high, spending is out of control, savings are at an all time low and personal debt is a trillion pounds and rising. I believe the Tories will build an economy on strong foundations not sand as it is at present and their cuts in taxation and more efficient use of public money will boost the economy and give us public services to be proud of.
Jack Stone, Southend on Sea.
I would not trust a Tory government with the economy, last time they had control interest rates reached 15%, people lost there homes and jobs
Dave L, Kent
Being able to remember the disaster of the Thatcher years I cannot trust the Tories to look after the economy. The headlines seemed good, personal income tax may have been lower, but unemployment was high, interest rates for savers were high, hope for the poor was low. I would prefer to pay a bit more on tax than return to the hopelessness of the Tories.
Barry P, Havant, England
I believe the Liberal Democrats have the right idea. We need fairer distribution of the wealth of this country and that means taxing the top rate earners. I have no time for Labour as they have abandoned what they used to stand for and the Tories are a joke. They have proven that they cannot manage the economy sensibly and would rather divert the wealth of the country to people who are already rich. Where is the sense in that when there are people living in poverty?
Manmohan Tagore, Edinburgh
There's no doubt in my mind that the Conservatives would run a 'tighter ship' than this profligate government. Gordon Brown has basically bought jobs in the public sector, and he knows that these people will vote Labour to keep their jobs. So up and up goes the public sector wage bill, down goes the income to support it. You can only get away with this for so long before borrowing gets out of hand, and we are rapidly approaching that point.
A Howlett, Manchester
Labour recently loudly trumpeted Gordon Brown has having given Britain 50 quarters of economic stability - the longest period in some 200 years. If 50 quarters is still twelve and a half years and Labour have only been in power for eight then how can they still attempt to blame the Tories for all of the woes which they are supposed to have inherited?
Tom, Bexhill, UK
I was born during the last Conservative Government before Mr Blair took over. The Boom and Bust of the Conservative era is one that we cannot afford to go back to in this country and I don't think that the Conservatives can keep a strong and stable economy. The Labour Government has worked hard over the past 8 years to fix the mess the economy was left in by the Conservative government. I say give Labour another 5 years to make it even stronger
Of course you can trust Labour - to increase taxes either directly or by stealth. Just look at council tax rises here in Wigan!
My husband and I live in the South East and earn good salaries. Could Mr Brown please tell me why we cannot afford a modest two bedroom house?
To sustain economic growth for 8 years is a triumph. The economic performance started to improve under the Conservatives, and that improvement has continued under Labour.
Nick Hards, Didcot
When you look at the figures and not the hype there is no question that Labour are doing a good job with the economy's stability. The Tory figures just do not add up and many of us can remember what Tory tax policies mean in terms of the state of front line services. No thank you Mr Howard.
Chris, Surrey. UK.
Labour of course. We, under this government have had the longest sustained economic period of growth and low inflation since records began. Picking up the pieces of the aftermath of 18 years of Tories, that is a remarkable achievement for Gordon Brown and the government.
Vic, Marton, UK
The economy only appears stable, at some point it will have to react/compensate for the massive hike in house prices. One suspects the actual cost of living under Labour has increased dramatically, which is the real measure. Sadly all governments just fiddle at the edges, rather than conduct the real review of taxation, local government and spending.
Dave G, Hereford, UK
Even if the economy (including the National Debt) eight years ago was as good as some people allege; to suppose that explains as many years of excellent results without excellent management is to live in cloud-cuckoo-land.
J Westerman, Leeds, UK