Coalition demands Labour hopefuls forego severance pay

Chris Huhne stood beside Baroness Warsi to lambast Labour's record today
Chris Huhne stood beside Baroness Warsi to lambast Labour's record today

By Ian Dunt

Sayeeda Warsi has written to Labour leadership contenders demanding they forgo their ministerial severance pay due to their economic mismanagement.

In a joint press conference with Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne, the Tory chairman branded Labour's economic performance "criminal" and pinned the blame for the deficit reduction plan squarely on the shoulders of the opposition.

"When you have a job and you leave that job in a mess then you have to take responsibility," she said.

In the first party political press conference held by the coalition the pair took it in turns to launch an attack on Labour, regularly speaking of "Labour cuts" in what appeared to be a concerted attempt to rebrand the upcoming spending review.

"The truth is that Gordon Brown tried to buy the election. Labour's big spender went on a hell of a bender," Mr Huhne said.

"It was goodbye prudence and hello hangover. The man who built his reputation on the strength of the economy saw his legacy in tatters.

"It is no wonder Brown could not face the problems he created. But it is inexcusable that Labour's next leaders fail to face the problems," he went on.

"They are in denial about their role in creating this mess. They should take responsibility."

Baroness Warsi added: "I'm a lawyer I can tell you that if an individual had run up debts so irresponsibly they would face legal consequences.

"Labour went on a spending spree with no thought for the cost. Quite frankly, they didn't give a damn. Because after all, it wasn't their money, it was yours."

The Conservatives have long tried to link the deficit exclusively to Labour spending rather than the financial crisis, but the tactic is a new one for the Lib Dems, who were more sympathetic to the need to increase spending in the early stages of the downturn.

Every Labour leadership contender apart from Diane Abbott had a ministerial position during the party's time in power.


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