Tories: Darling is stealing our thunder

By Ian Dunt

The Conservatives have attacked the government for proposing a freeze on senior public sector pay in the middle of their party conference.

Historically, there has been a consensus between the parties that they would refrain from major announcements during other party’s conferences, although this consensus has gradually disintegrated over the last few years.

“It is surprising that the Labour chancellor chose to make this announcement – which affects hundreds of thousands of people – in the middle of a Conservative party conference,” a Tory party spokesman said.

“People will question his motives.”

The announcement is seen as especially problematic because it directly addresses the Tory political agenda of bringing public spending under control.

The spokesman tried to frame this as proof the opposition were now setting the political agenda.

“Tonight’s move by the government, if true, comprehensively shows that the Conservative party is setting the terms of the political debate on the economy,” he said.

This morning, George Osborne, shadow chancellor, will lay out Tory plans to tackle public spending. Early forecasts suggest he will aim to increase the state retirement age to 66 ten years earlier than planned.