My response to the publication of the Charter for Budget Responsibility

Once again, a silly political stunt by George Osborne has totally backfired. David Cameron has just given a speech attacking Labour’s target to get the current budget into surplus. But this is exactly what they are putting to a vote in this new Charter.

In the Budget George Osborne talked about a vote on balancing the overall budget. Today he and David Cameron have done a staggering U-turn on this vote and are now proposing a vote on the current budget, excluding capital investment. This is the same measure of the deficit the Labour Party has been committed to targeting for the last three years. They have also changed the fiscal mandate from being a ‘target’ to an ‘aim’.

We said in January that we want to get the current budget into surplus and national debt falling as soon as possible in the next Parliament. This Charter is consistent with our position so we’ll vote for it. We’re not going to change our view about what’s in Britain’s best interests because of one of George Osborne’s silly games.

Labour will cut the deficit every year and get the current budget into surplus, and the national debt falling, as soon as possible in the next Parliament. How fast we can go will depend on the state of the economy, including what happens to wages, growth, the housing benefit bill and events around the world.

But our approach will be very different to the Tories. There will need to be sensible spending cuts in non-protected areas, but we will make fairer choices including reversing the Tory tax cut for millionaires and our plan will deliver the rising living standards and stronger growth needed to balance the books.

In contrast the Tories are pursuing an increasingly unbalanced and extreme approach. They have chosen to pencil in even deeper spending cuts, which would return public spending to a share of GDP last seen in the 1930s.

They are refusing to ask those with the broadest shoulders to make a greater contribution and ignoring the need for a plan to deliver the rising living standards that are vital to getting the deficit down. And they have now made £7 billion of unfunded tax promises, which can only be paid for by even deeper cuts to public spending or another Tory VAT rise.

This is a complete own goal for the Chancellor. Perhaps George Osborne should spend less time thinking up silly political games which end up backfiring and more time sorting out the economy and trying to make his sums add up.

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Posted December 15th, 2014 by Ed

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