Ed Miliband: Cuts plan has locked UK into vicious cycle


Ed Miliband says the government "no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt" on the economy

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Labour leader Ed Miliband has said that the government's economic strategy is locking Britain into a "vicious cycle on the deficit".

In a speech in London, he said next week's autumn statement will show their plan "has failed" and confirm a further rise in borrowing.

Flat growth and high unemployment means it is time to change course, he says.

Prime Minister David Cameron says Labour plans to spend more are the "height of irresponsibility".

Mr Miliband told the IPPR think-tank that next Tuesday's autumn statement - in which Chancellor George Osborne will present the official economic and public finance forecasts - will "mark a crucial moment in the economic course of our country".


Tuesday 29th November 2011, 12:30pm: "It will be the moment that we learn that the biggest economic gamble in a generation has failed." So says Ed Miliband.

In a speech this morning he tried to present the case for an alternative. He started with the now familiar act of contrition for the failings of the last Labour government on bank regulation and support for manufacturing.

He knows he must try to rebuild his party's credibility on the economy.

Then he laid out a case - "I want to convince you" - for another way. It's based on what he said were George Osborne's four criteria: growth, jobs, low inflation and borrowing targets. On each, austerity has failed, he said.

Ed Miliband is focusing his attack on the set-piece event of next week's Autumn Statement because for him it represents the coalition's core failing - it's pushing ahead with the plan, irrespective of the effects.

"It will be the moment that we learn that the biggest economic gamble in a generation has failed."

The Labour leader said on jobs, growth and inflation, Mr Osborne's promises had come to nothing. Growth had flatlined since the final quarter of 2010, he said, while unemployment had been growing since March 2011 while CPI inflation had been above 4% all year.

And on borrowing, he drew attention to the Office for Budget Responsibility's March prediction that £44.5bn of additional borrowing would be needed up to 2015-16 and suggested the figure was now forecast to surpass £100bn.

"When a further rise in borrowing is confirmed by the Office for Budget Responsibility next week, it will be a catastrophic blow to the government's credibility," he said.

Mr Miliband appealed to voters who backed the Conservatives at the general election, because they believed their deficit-reduction plan was right, to "look afresh at the evidence".

He said that the reason the government "no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt, is that even on this measure - the central test they set themselves - the plan isn't working".

"It isn't working because their failure to get businesses growing, to see more jobs created, has locked them and the country into a vicious cycle on the deficit," he said.

'Chilling effect'

"We need to ask why, when the recovery was underway just 17 months ago, we have ended up in such a serious situation."

He said the government was wrong to blame the eurozone crisis for slow growth - it was the "scale of shrinking domestic demand" that was holding growth back.

Start Quote

Is there a single other mainstream party anywhere in Europe who thinks the answer to the debt problem is more spending and more borrowing?”

End Quote David Cameron

"Austerity rhetoric" had had a "chilling effect on our economy", he said - and suggested the government was "shrugging its shoulders in the face of economic difficulty".

Those who criticised Labour's "five point plan" to boost economic growth - which would include a VAT cut and a bank bonus tax to fund youth employment programmes - for being too expensive should think again, he added.

"The cost of not acting is the more expensive choice - economically and socially. That is proved by the government missing its borrowing targets by over £100bn."

Earlier this week Prime Minister David Cameron told business leaders: "Getting debt under control is proving harder than anyone envisaged."

But he criticised Labour's plans for the economy at prime minister's questions on Wednesday, telling Mr Miliband: "Is there a single other mainstream party anywhere in Europe who thinks the answer to the debt problem is more spending and more borrowing?

"If you are worried about the level of debt, why are you proposing to add another £100bn to it? It is the height of irresponsibility and the reason why people will never trust Labour with the economy again."

Office for National Statistics figures out on Tuesday showed the UK's public sector net borrowing, excluding financial interventions, fell to £6.5bn in October - down from £7.7bn a year earlier - which the Treasury said showed Britain was making progress in cutting its deficit.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    Ed and Ed just dont get it. We dont have any money. His party spent it all and then it all again. We have to borrow from the rest of the world just to pay our bills.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    To use an analogy if your running a household you would't stop buying essentials to pay your credit card of quicker even if it did cost more in the long run , you still have to live in the short term .

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Miliband has lost the plot. The Labour Party talks about the economy as if this were a normal recession. Stimulating your way out of recession (i.e. the Keynesian way) only works if you were prudent in the boom time and have a surplus to invest. We have a massive debt that will cost even more to service if we adopt Ed's plan. The govt. is doing the only credible thing, for now, growth can wait.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    The economy does need more stimulation, however we repay our current borrowing at low rates because lenders don't question our ability to repay it. When they do so the rates rise eg. Italy.

    More borrowing = more uncertainty = higher interest rates = more to repay = less you can pump into the economy = less stimulation.

    Borrowing is what got us into this mess in the first place, not the solution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    For those staying that Milliband should shut up as he's not going into detail about what he would do and makes general statements such as "we should change course". Isn't this exactly what David Cameron use to do when in opposition? Isn't it what everyone does in opposition? All three major political parties have played a part in the economic issues we face.


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