Pressure points: Labour lays down the gauntlet before autumn statement

Labour is still not being heard on the economy, according to polls
Labour is still not being heard on the economy, according to polls

By Ian Dunt

Next week's autumn statement by George Osborne should see him come clean about his economic mistakes, Ed Miliband said today.

In a major economic speech intended to put pressure on the chancellor ahead of what could be a humiliating announcement to the Commons next week, the Labour leader demanded Mr Osborne admit "the biggest economic gamble in a generation has failed".

He told the IPPR thinktank: "The autumn statement will mark a crucial moment in the economic course of our country.


"Even the biggest supporter of the government will be worrying about how the evidence is piling up that David Cameron and George Osborne are getting it wrong and beginning to wonder when either of them are going to take responsibility for what is going on."

The Labour leader urged those who disagreed with Labour to "look afresh at the evidence".

The government "no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt", he argued.

In an attempt to take on the Treasury on its own terms, Mr Miliband focused on Mr Osborne's goals of growth, jobs, low inflation and borrowing targets. 

The Labour leader argued that growth has flatlined since the end of 2010, unemployment is rising and inflation has risen above five per cent.

Labour feels the time has come to press home its advantage amid persistently gloomy economic news.

Many of the party's arguments before the spending cuts programme began – namely that it would kill confidence and choke off demand – appear to have been at least partially vindicated, but it had underestimated how badly bruised its reputation on the economy had become.

The party maintains a robust seven-point lead over the Conservatives, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos Mori poll, but a recent Guardian Ipsos/Mori poll showed 30% of people blamed debts racked up by Labour for the economy, compared to 24% who blamed coalition spending cuts.

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