Labour leader Ed Miliband says Chancellor George Osborne resembles “Norman Lamont with an iPod” and is too arrogant to change the course of his austerity drive despite the slowdown in growth.
Osborne announced during the Budget that the UK’s Office of Budget Responsibility has downgraded the growth forecast for 2011/12 from 2.1 per cent to 1.7 per cent and from 2.6 per cent to 2.5 per cent for 2012/13.
Miliband said: “What did he say about growth? Judge me on the figures. Well, judge him we will. Every time he comes to the house, growth is downgraded. Growth down last year, this year and next year. It is the same old Tories, it is hurting but it is not working.
“The same hubris and arrogance as the early 1990s. The same broken promises, the same view that unemployment is a price worth paying.
“He is Norman Lamont with an iPod and no doubt on his playlist, Je Ne Regrette Rien.”
The Chancellor blamed Labour’s reliance on debt-fuelled growth and uncompetitive policies for Britain losing ground on other world economies.
Osborne said in the last decade other countries had cut business tax rates, removed barriers to enterprise and increased exports to bolster their economies.
“Sadly, the reverse has happened in Britain. We gambled on a debt-fuelled model of growth that failed. With the state now accounting for almost half of all income, we simply cannot go on like this,” he said.
Treasury select committee chairman and Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie said at half of gross domestic product, public spending is too high and that he would support reducing it even if there was no budget deficit.
He said: “Even if there was no deficit, I believe we should still reduce public spending. At close to 50 per cent of GDP, public spending is too high.
“It reduces choice and freedom for millions of individuals and burdens enterprises with unacceptable levels of taxation.”