Osborne campaigns against Brown’s Labour

By Alex Stevenson

George Osborne hopes voters in Norwich North will “send a message to the government” by rejecting Labour in today’s by-election.

Speaking after knocking on doors in Taverham with Conservative candidate Chloe Smith, the shadow chancellor launched a scathing attack against the prime minister.

He rejected the suggestion Gordon Brown’s rhetoric of Tory spending cuts was making any impression on voters.

“I think Labour’s completely dishonest approach to this by-election, saying that somehow Labour’s going to keep on spending, which obviously comes directly from Gordon Brown because there are members of the Cabinet who disagree with that – I think are going to backfire on him in Norwich North,” he told politics.co.uk.

“People will draw conclusions from the result. One of the conclusions will be that Labour’s dishonesty with spending is not getting any traction with the public.”

Mr Osborne is the latest in a series of high-profile shadow Cabinet members campaigning on behalf of Ms Smith, who if elected would become at 27 the youngest MP in the Commons.

“I’m 27, I’ve never made any bones about that and actually I think one thing I can contribute is to put a little bit of energy back into politics,” she told politics.co.uk. “I think people around here are ready for that.”

Ms Smith has been campaigning for 18 months in Norwich North and reflected on an “intense and quite exciting” period in the by-election campaign.

She said recent weeks had been characterised by a mixture of local and national issues, with the closure of a local walk-in centre and threats to a local district council rubbing shoulders with economic issues and MPs’ expenses.

“People were very worried about expenses in general. People were very angry and still very disappointed in politicians as a whole,” she explained.

“So I’ve tried to be very clear about that and I’ve set out a pledge that says if I do my expenses wrongly. you should kick me out at the next general election.”

Mr Osborne said his experience knocking on doors in Taverham had reflected the balance between local and national politics.

He added: “By-elections are a chance to send a message to the government, to Gordon Brown – this is a Labour seat – but this morning is a reminder there are always local issues in by-elections.”