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Miliband attacks "more of the same" Budget
3:11pm Wednesday 20th March 2013 in News
LABOUR leader Ed Miliband attacked a "more of the same" Budget from "downgraded Chancellor" George Osborne.
He seized on growth forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility which had been slashed from 1.2% this year to 0.6% and said "Britain deserves better" than it was getting from the coalition Government.
"Every Budget he comes to this House and things are worse, not better for this country," Mr Miliband said.
"Compared to last year's Budget: growth last year down, growth this year down, growth next year down, growth in 2015 down.
"All he offers is more of the same: higher borrowing, lower growth ... a more of the same Budget from a downgraded Chancellor."
He added: "Britain deserves better than this."
mfl Page 2: 13:55 In his Budget Mr Osborne was cheered by MPs from both the Tory and Liberal Democrat wings of the coalition.
The Lib Dems' cherished policy of a £10,000 income tax threshold will be introduced from 2014 and Tories cheered a £2,000 allowance for firms before paying employer National Insurance contributions, a move Mr Osborne described as "taking tax off jobs".
There was also a 1p cut in beer duty and extra support for people wanting to buy homes.
But Mr Osborne told MPs there were "no easy answers" to the country's economic problems.
He said: "This is a Budget for people who aspire to work hard and get on.
"It's a Budget for people who realise there are no easy answers to problems built up over many years, just the painstaking work of putting right what went so badly wrong.
"Together with the British people we are slowly but surely fixing our country's economic problems."
mfl Page 3: 14:07 The Leader of the Opposition said the "bad news just does not stop" coming from the Chancellor's budgets.
Mr Miliband said in October 2010, Mr Osborne had offered a "deal" to the voters - four years of pain, four years of tax rises and spending cuts before "good times" returned.
But he said today: "You should be telling us just one more year of sacrifice. In 12 months, the good times will roll, job done, mission accomplished, election plan under way.
"But three years on, what does he say? Exactly what he said three years ago.
"We still need four more years of pain, tax rises and spending cuts. In other words, after all the misery, all the harsh medicine, all the suffering by the British people, three years, no progress, deal broken.
"Same old Tories."
Mr Miliband lashed out at the Chancellor, adding: "You're the wrong man in the wrong place at the worst possible time for this country.
"This is a downgraded Budget from a downgraded Chancellor."
The Labour leader said the OBR had confirmed living standards would fall over the course of the Parliament, meaning families would be worse off in 2015 than they had been in 2010.
He said: "It's official: You are worse off under the Tories."
Mr Miliband mocked the failure of the Chancellor to make any reference to Britain's loss of its Triple A rating with credit agencies during his hour long budget speech.
He said both Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne had repeatedly stated the importance of the rating, which was stripped from Britain earlier this year.
Mr Miliband said: "The Chancellor said it would be humiliating for Britain to be downgraded. He is not just a downgraded Chancellor, he is a humiliated Chancellor too."
In angry exchanges, Mr Miliband said the Government would be borrowing more in every year of the Parliament.
He shouted at the Prime Minister, who appeared to suggest Labour would borrow more if it was in office, claiming the coalition was already doing so.
Mr Miliband said the coalition appeared to believe its own propaganda, reeling off excuses he said had been made - snow, the Royal Wedding, the jubilee and the eurozone.
He said: "And now, they are turning on each other.
"The truth is, the Chancellor is lashed to his mast not because of his judgment but because of pride.
"Not because of the facts but because of ideology.
"And why does he stay in his job? Not because the country wants him, not because his party wants him but because he is the Prime Minister's last line of defence."
Returning to the widely-criticised 2012 Budget, Mr Miliband highlighted the series of u-turns the Government made.
But he said the only policy ministers had proved committed to was the cut in the top rate of income tax from 50p to 45p.
mfl Page 4: 14:15 Mr Miliband attacked the Chancellor's measures to boost growth, saying: "Just like he does every year, and every year they fail."
He said: "For all the launches, strategies and plans, housing completions are now at their lowest level since the 1920s, and 130,000 jobs lost in construction, it's a failing economic plan for the failing Chancellor."
He added: "The Chancellor has failed the test of the British people - growth, living standards, and hope - but he's not just failed their tests, he has failed on his own as well.
"All he has to offer is just more of the same Budget. Today, the Chancellor joined Twitter, he could have got it all into 140 characters: Growth down, borrowing up, families hit, and millionaires laughing all the way to the bank. Hashtag downgraded Chancellor.
"More of the same is not the answer to the problems of the last three years. More of the same is the answer of a downgraded Chancellor in a downgraded Government. Britain deserves better than this."
mfl Page 5: 14:33 Labour former Cabinet minister John Denham accused the Government of adopting divisive policies at a time when a shared "patriotic commitment" to rebuilding the economy was needed.
He accused the Government of "socially unfair and morally reprehensible" actions such as the cut in the top rate of tax while also slashing welfare.
"A country which is in such a disastrous economic position as ours will only recover if there is a shared patriotic commitment to rebuilding our country, a shared case in which everybody in this country feels they have a stake, feels that they have a role, feels that they are going to benefit from success.
"That is why the millionaires' tax cut and those other divisive policies that have been pursued against the very poorest in our country have been so damaging."
He also questioned what had happened to Mr Osborne's promised "march of the makers", highlighting the fall in manufacturing.
He also hit out at bickering coalition MPs who he claimed had put firms off investing in major infrastructure projects.
"The parties over there have spent three years, on the backbenches and the front, creating uncertainty about wind power, uncertainty about nuclear power, uncertainty about High Speed 2, uncertainty about the future of airports policy," he said.
"Everywhere that business might look to invest in this country, for the most narrow of marginal constituency political interests the parties and the MPs on that side of the House have conspired to create the maximum business uncertainty."
Labour's Steve Rotheram (Liverpool Walton) compared the Chancellor to dim-witted lackey Baldrick from the Blackadder series.
Mr Osborne was the "Baldrick of British politics" who "thinks he's got a cunning plan but everybody else can see that it's doomed to failure".
mfl Page 6: 14:39 Former chief whip and international development secretary Andrew Mitchell welcomed the "courageous and wise" decision to resist pressure to cut the foreign aid budget.
He said the money was vital to protect Britain's interests.
The Budget Red Book said the Department for International Development would see savings of £135 million this year and £165 million next year, reflecting the lower-than-anticipated GDP - cutting the figure, equivalent to 0.7% of GDP, which the Government is committed to spending.
Overall, the budget is rising to £8.3 billion in 2014/15, from £6.1 billion in 2012/13.
Sutton Coldfield MP Mr Mitchell said: "Of course, the special protection for this Budget is only justifiable by the results it achieves and the effect that it has.
"We should never forget this hard-earned taxpayers' money has to be justified - every pound we take off the taxpayer must deliver 100 pence of value on the ground.
"But this is a huge investment in this country's future prosperity and security and the prosperity and security of our children and grandchildren."
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