UK Politics

Ed Balls faces more document leaks

Ed Balls
Image caption The document was written by civil servants in 2006 at a time when Ed Balls was on the backbenches

A document by civil servants urging spending restraint from the Labour government in 2006 is among more of Ed Balls' leaked, private papers published by the Daily Telegraph.

The file was written when Tony Blair was PM and Mr Balls was a backbencher.

The Conservatives said the latest revelations showed Labour had taken a "reckless" approach to the economy.

Current shadow chancellor Mr Balls said whoever was using his private papers had clear political motives.

He accused them of misrepresenting the papers' contents.

The latest document published by the Telegraph put forward ideas for savings ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review of 2007.

It suggested that departmental spending increases above inflation ought to become the exception not the rule.

The Conservatives claim this advice was "recklessly" ignored.

Economy claims

But Labour says that, at the time, the Conservatives were committed to matching their spending plans and the then chancellor Gordon Brown was running a lower deficit than he had inherited.

Mr Balls has accused the Conservatives of trying to "rewrite history" and sensationalising the contents of the leaked papers.

He said: "Once again the headlines and allegations are not remotely substantiated by either the content of the documents or the reality of what happened."

Image caption Former foreign secretary David Miliband has shown no interest in returning to front-line politics

Mr Balls added: "However much the Conservative Party and their supporters sensationalise these papers, and try to rewrite history, their allegations are not borne out by reality."

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson says the biggest issue in British politics is not simply the size of the deficit and how quickly to reduce it, but how it was caused.

Labour blames increased spending in its latter years in office on the international financial crisis, he adds.

The Conservatives aim to portray the party as inherently profligate - and therefore not to be trusted with running the economy.

Our correspondent says the latest leak is not merely of interest to political historians but plays directly into current political debate.

Hit back

Meanwhile, the Guardian says it has obtained a final draft of a speech that former foreign secretary David Milband planned to deliver if he had won the Labour leadership race - instead of his brother, Ed.

The paper says he would have told Labour's conference that the party's greatest danger lay in underestimating the challenge of the deficit, and that it was vital to regain the public's trust on the economy.

Mr Miliband has not spoken about sensitive domestic issues since his defeat last September.

Disclosure of the speech came separately to leaked memos published in the Daily Telegraph on Friday, detailing plans within Labour to have Gordon Brown succeed Tony Blair as prime minister from 2005.

Mr Balls hit back, saying it was "not true" to say he and Mr Brown had plotted to oust the prime minister.

The newspaper obtained more than 30 memos belonging to Mr Balls, who was one of Mr Brown's closest advisers.

The documents are believed to have disappeared from the Department for Education - Mr Balls' former department - during last year's general election.

The Cabinet Office is looking into whether there were any "breaches of document security within government".

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