THE opposition Labour Party yesterday tried to end middle-class fears that a future Labour government would penalise them just as previous ones had done, promising 'fair taxes' for all. As Tony Blair took the new-look party into its first conference under his leadership there was no denying the attempts to woo the middle classes who have always turned away from Labour at the last four general elections. Using words which could have been borrowed from some earlier Tory manifestos on the need to reward those who work hard, shadow chancellor Gordon Brown explained he would make sure wealthy individuals and companies who tried to dodge taxes through the use of offshore havens would have to pay up. But there was not one hint of the kind of threats which Labour shadow chancellors and ministers have issued down the years on the need to make the middle classes pay more. On the left of the party those such as deputy leader John Prescott are still holding out the threats of undisclosed progressive rates of taxation. But Mr Brown yesterday denied any splits and said: 'We have abandoned the policy on which we fought the last election - it is not relevant to the circumstances of the 1990s. 'Taxation will be fair and we will link decisions on taxation to the benefits people will receive,' he said. But he made clear that he would remove 'structural' loopholes in the tax system under which individuals and companies can avoid taxes through the use of offshore havens. Labour is still not making clear just what tax rates it would introduce after an election. 'We are not going to be drawn in, not knowing the economic conditions and the economic cycle, into identifying tax rates at this stage,' Mr Brown said as the conference got under way in Blackpool. 'What people can be sure of is that our tax system will be fair.' Labour claims recent tax increases under the Tories already mean middle-income Britain is paying more now than under the last Labour government. 'What I want to see in a Labour government is the removal of poverty. What I want to see is people who work hard doing well,' he said. 'I am going to be tough on the undeserving rich who fail to pay their fair share of taxes and don't contribute to the national effort.' But he added: 'The party that will deliver the best deal on tax is also the party which will deliver the best deal on economic growth. The key to our future is raising the sustainable growth rate for the British economy which is now on average half what it was in the 30 years after the war.' Behind the scenes is a continuing clash between Mr Blair and the big unions over whether union delegates will have the freedom to vote as they wish individually or must follow the dictates of union bosses. On Sunday night Mr Blair promised that delegates would be allowed to decide for themselves. But Bill Morris, general secretary of the biggest union, the Transport Workers, said his 74 delegates at the conference must abide by union policy.