Labour are cowards for racking up billions in debt, says Ken Livingstone
The former Mayor of London criticises Labour for spending billions to avoid tax and spending cuts in the 'boom years'
Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London Photo: PA
By Georgia Graham, Political Correspondent
11:52AM GMT 15 Nov 2013
Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, has accused the Labour party of “cowardice” for building up billions in debts rather than taking difficult decisions on tax cuts and spending.
In a speech to a campaigning group on Saturday Mr Livingstone accused Gordon Brown of borrowing too much in the boom years.
Mr Livingstone said: “Gordon Brown was borrowing £20 billion a year at the height of the boom in the first decade of this century in order to avoid having to increase taxes, because he wanted to increase public spending.”
The former Mayor described the racking up of debts as “an act of cowardice” on the part of the Labour party.
Mr Livingstone appealed to Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, not to borrow more. Referring to Mr Miliband and Ed Balls, the Shadow chancellor’s, plans for the economy, he said: “I don’t believe that borrowing is your way to the future.”
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The Brown government left a deficit of £157 billion, which was the largest in Britain’s peacetime history after eight years of spending more money than it received in revenues.
In his speech to Labour Assembly Against Austerity Mr Livingstone said past Conservative governments had also “borrowed money because they haven’t had the courage either to make the cuts that you need to balance the budget or the tax increases you need.”
Mr Livingstone told The Evening Standard: “I criticised both left and right. If it was up to me there would be a target of repaying all debt within 20 years. I’m in favour of borrowing to invest, but not to cover day-to-day spending.”
Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps said: "Even Red Ken admits what Ed Miliband refuses to acknowledge: It was Labour’s addiction to borrowing and spending that got us into this mess, yet now the Balls/Miliband plan is to do the exact same thing again. More spending, more borrowing and more debt, that’s an express train back to economic disaster.
"Ed Miliband was too weak to take difficult decisions then and he’s too weak to stand up for hardworking people now. It’s the same old Labour party.”
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