Balls: Osborne's 'vanity' blocking recovery

Ed Balls "I'm afraid George Osborne's pride shouldn't stand in the way of doing the right thing."
Ed Balls "I'm afraid George Osborne's pride shouldn't stand in the way of doing the right thing."
Alex Stevenson By

George Osborne should put aside his pride and abandon his deficit reduction strategy, Ed Balls has told politics.co.uk.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's autumn statement, the shadow chancellor called on Osborne to give up his "political pride and vanity" in favour of jobs, business investment and the "life chances of young people".

Balls called on Osborne to continue the U-turns from March's Budget, the chancellor's last major setpiece event, by reversing the cut in the top rate of income tax from 45p back to 50p and scrapping tax rises for pensioners.

He said: "I'm afraid George Osborne's pride shouldn't stand in the way of doing the right thing.


"The thing you learn in politics is if you're making mistakes, the sooner you do your U-turns the better."

Balls' attacks on the chancellor have already contributed to policy reversals on charities, caravans, churches, pasties, skips and more.

Now the shadow chancellor is calling on Osborne to adopt his plan to fund a major expansion in house-building with the sale of the 4G spectrum and push ahead with banking and infrastructure reform.

"George Osborne seems to think if he does nothing that's going to make the economy stronger. I'm not sure that's striking much of a chord with business," Balls added.

Last week he and Labour leader Ed Miliband claimed the change to the top rate of income tax would see 8,000 millionaires become over £100,000 better off each year.

Balls wants to see the fuel tax rise scrapped, cuts to tax credits reversed and pensioners' tax hikes scrapped.

He will also hit out at the expected reduction in growth forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility. The most recent official figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the economy grew by one per cent in the last quarter.

"It was confirmed that the economy's contracted by -0.1% this year," Balls said.

"The economy's barely grown in two years. That's why the deficit's up, not down. You've got to get jobs and growth moving if you're going to make people better off and get the deficit down."

Balls said the autumn statement would show the "full impact" of Osborne's deficit reduction plan: "How that's going to hit the economy, how it's hitting borrowing and the deficit, how it's hitting families, and who's going to pay the price."

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