Labour had no ‘credible economic policy’, Darling admits

By Ian Dunt

Labour went into the 2010 general election without a credible economic policy because of disagreements at the top of the party, Alistair Darling admitted today.

In an extraordinary interview, the former chancellor outlined the deep division on economic policy between himself and Gordon Brown and expressed his hurt at briefings against him by his own colleagues.

Critics of Labour have seized on his memoirs, currently being serialised in the Sunday Times, as further proof that Gordon Brown's fits of temper left him unfit to be prime minister.

"You need a credible economic policy. It really hampered us at the election," he told the Andrew Marr show.

"I think we could have done a better job than we did."

Asked about his previous comments that the "forces of hell" were let loose on him after an interview he gave about the recession, he said the experience was "deeply unpleasant".

"I don't mind and relish attacking Tories. But what's unpleasant is when your own side does it to you. It left on a mark on me," Mr Darling said.

"What I mind very much is people briefing all over the place – 'you've made a fool of yourself', 'your judgement's wrong' – all that sort of stuff.

Despite his treatment Mr Darling said a "residual loyalty" to Mr Brown prevented him from going public with divisions while in government.

"If you want to criticise us collectively, perhaps we should have done something [about Brown]," he said.

The former chancellor also attacked Bank of England boss Mervyn King, who was "emboldened" by Labour's decline in the polls and started increasingly voicing a Conservative economic policy.

"I don't think the Bank had anywhere near an adequate understanding of what was going on in the banking system," he commented.