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Senior Labour MP says party’s economic credibility woes ‘down to Brown’

Labour’s perceived lack of credibility over the economy stems from Gordon Brown’s refusal to accept public spending cuts would be needed after the 2010 election, according to Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna.

Brown’s approach to the public spending debate contrasted with that of the Conservatives, who warned of economic catastrophe unless drastic action was taken to reduce the deficit and debt.

In an interview with GQ magazine, Umunna says Brown’s strategy is at the root of Labour’s troubles in convincing voters it can be trusted to balance the books.

He says: “My view is that the seeds were sown under the last government and Gordon [Brown] – for whom I have a lot of respect. His refusal to use the word ‘cuts’ in trying to frame the economic debate as investment versus cuts gave the impression we didn’t understand that debt and deficit would have to be dealt with.”

The gap between the Labour and Conservative strategies was put into even starker relief by the Coalition’s immediate decision to make £6.2bn of public spending cuts in the first year in government. Government MPs frequently said the cuts were necessary because Labour had “crashed the car” while they had been in power.

Umunna says: “I do think we need to talk more proudly about our record. We do need to explain and rebut this notion that we crashed the car. My main argument in my conference speech was that we did not crash the car. Labour left the country in a far better state and I say it all the time.”

Labour frequently trails the Conservatives in polls over who voters trust to run the economy. Last month, a poll by Lord Ashcroft found only two thirds of Labour voters back Ed Miliband and Ed Balls over the Conservatives, while one in four Labour voters put more trust in David Cameron to run the economy than Ed Miliband.

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Comments

There are 4 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I wouldn’t trust Labour to manage my daughter’s pocket money

  2. It’s a bit late to start rebutting the ‘crashed the car’ story now – should have been doing it daily since the last election. Cameron and Osbourne both backed Labour spending proposals up to the crash, and it’s hard to make the case that Labour crashed Lehman Brothers, Greece, Ireland…..

  3. Yes you can put the blame on Brown but if I recall Ed Balls had a great influence on some of his decision-making so did other that are still in power

  4. As has been said on many occasions: The trouble with Labour is that they always run out of money. And it’s true, they do. The idea of redistributing wealth across the socio-economic spectrum is all very laudable but, when all is said and done, making poor people wealthy by making wealthy people poor just doesn’t work. It never has in the past and it never will in the future. The key, I believe, is to educate people from as early an age as possible in how to manage their finances responsibly and sustainably. That means saving regularly whatever they can and not borrowing money to buy things that they can’t afford and which they may not even really need. This is why I keep banging on about how the government should restrict unsecured borrowing to a maximum of 3 months nett income and disallow 100% credit purchases. If you want to buy something but you can’t afford to pay upfront even 20% of its purchase price, then you can’t afford to buy it. End of. Unsecured personal debt in the UK has reached mind boggling levels and it’s a nettle that needs to be firmly grasped, unpopular though it’s likely to be with the electorate. We can’t go on as we are ad infinitum.

    And Umunna’s statement that he has a lot of respect for Gordon Brown is hardly confidence inspiring. For what exactly does he respect the man who was largely the architect of the mess from which the current government is still trying to navigate a way out? Brown was an economic madman. At the very time he should have been paying down government debt he was borrowing ever more, to the point at which its balance sheet reached a record deficit. The notoriously inefficient public sector, also expanded hugely under Brown, is still a massively bloated and unsustainable drag on the national economy. Sure, the country needs its public services, but those services need to be efficient and cost-effective which patently they aren’t.

    Will Labour seek to attract votes by suggesting that it’s now a fundamentally changed animal, that this time we can trust it with the nation’s finances, that this time it’ll be any different from the past? I for one just don’t and won’t buy it.

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