Labour rules out borrowing to reverse coalition cuts


Ed Miliband: "The circumstances we face will be more difficult than at any time for generations"

Labour would not increase borrowing to reverse cuts in government spending, Ed Miliband has told activists as he warned the party must be "credible".

Mr Miliband said Labour must face up to the "hard reality" that it will not be able to reverse spending cuts scheduled by the coalition for 2015-16.

The party's leader told its policy forum if Labour wins the next election, it will be in "tough" economic times.

The Conservatives said Mr Miliband was "too weak" to stick to the promise.

Mr Miliband said: "Our starting point for 2015/16 is that we won't be able to reverse the cuts in day-to-day current spending unless it is fully funded from savings elsewhere or extra revenue, not from more borrowing."

'Crystal clear'

He was speaking ahead of Chancellor George Osborne's Spending Review on Wednesday, which will set out the government's spending plans for the year following the general election in 2015.


Ed Miliband is attempting a balancing act.

On the one hand, he wants to enthuse his party by promising a Miliband government would introduce radical social changes; on the other, he's trying to convince voters that those changes wouldn't involve borrowing more money - at least in the first year.

He wants to be seen as trustworthy and disciplined on the economy, but he risks giving some voters the impression that he's not offering much that's different from the coalition parties.

His nostalgic references to the Attlee government are an attempt to show he has a bold vision.

But as the general election draws closer, he'll come under increasing pressure to translate that vision into hard, detailed policies.

And that's where his critics claim he'll come unstuck.

The majority of government departments are facing cuts of between 8% and 10%.

"When George Osborne stands up next week and announces his cuts..." Mr Miliband said, "we won't be able to promise now to reverse them because we've got to be absolutely crystal clear about where the money is coming from."

Hammering home his message on the economic inheritance Labour will face should it regain power after the next election, Mr Miliband described it as the "toughest for a generation".

Labour has already said it would withdraw the winter fuel allowance from the wealthiest pensioners, and would not reverse coalition cuts to child benefit for households where one person earns more than £50,000.

"People will only put their trust in us if we show we are credible," Mr Miliband said.

'Same old Labour'

But the Conservative Party chairman, Grant Shapps, dismissed the pledge, saying the opposition leader was "too weak to stick to his promises".

Clement Atlee Ed Miliband drew comparisons with the 1945 Clement Atlee Labour government

"Ed Miliband only offers more spending, more borrowing and more debt - the same old Labour approach that got us into this mess in the first place," he said.

Mr Miliband also set out plans to penalise property developers who "sit on land" rather than building new homes.

And he drew parallels with Clement Atlee's 1945 Labour government, saying that as well as creating the NHS and building homes, it also ran budget surpluses.

"By the end of their time in government they were actually starting to pay off the war time debt. But nobody in this party and nobody in this country thinks that government didn't make a difference," he said.

In an earlier speech to Liberal Democrat activists, leader Nick Clegg warned his party it risks "irrelevance" if it retreats to the "comfort blanket of opposition".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 773.

    In order not to increase borrowing, so as not to reduce services and make no cuts to public spending, where is the money going to come from in order to maintain services etc?

    Yes, you've guessed it... the man in the street through taxes, - oh yes, they'll be there, blatant, like PAYE, or hidden amidst Labour rhetoric!

    Don't worry people, the Tories won't get a majority either... oh dearie me!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 772.

    @765: "Socialism has failed in every country that adopted it"

    It's socialism that is keeping the worldwide economies alive from the banking implosion. It's socialism that's absorbing all the losses incurred by private debt.

    The people with no real skills, ambitions or jobs are the politicians, the bankers and all the associated blackmailing cronies -- the ruling elite.

    You must get out more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 771.

    Re 765---We have a member of the ruling class online: can some of those on ESA get a job as your under-sub-vice-temp butler or chamber maid please ?
    Wow: ruling class:I'm just so impressed. I feel like a truly impressed bloke who is holding up a huge banner which says "I'm really impressed by meeting one of the ruling class". And I have a cunning plan:ever heard of what the Tennis Court Oath ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 770.

    The truth is that like the church, unions are fast becoming irrelevant to most in the UK. The world is changing and socialism is now just a relic from the past.

  • rate this

    Comment number 769.

    Milliband can make this statement very easily. He know full well, that if by some fluke, he were to be elected to power (an extremely unlikely scenario) nobody would lend him and Ed Balls a cup of sugar let alone money. Milliband is just the last wimper of a once great party. Pay him no attention.


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