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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Ed Balls under fire from the SNP & the Lib Dems

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls came under fire this afternoon from both the SNP and the Lib Dems. The SNP attacked Mr Balls for 'not coming clean' over spending cuts that will be made by the Labour party if they win the election. Commenting on Ed Balls’s visit to Scotland, the SNP’s Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary John Swinney challenged the Shadow Chancellor on claims from Gordon Brown that any additional funding would be available in the current financial year as he said it was purely a smokescreen to hide Labour’s commitment to cuts.

Commenting on Labour cuts rhetoric, Mr Swinney said: "Ed Miliband confirmed on national television that under Labour 'we’re going to be reducing spending' and yet Ed Balls has the cheek to pretend he is anti-austerity. He is the person who said he would change precisely ‘nothing’ in George Osborne’s latest budget – despite the Tory plans for further and deeper cuts. And he trooped through the lobbies of the House of Commons to vote for a further £30 billion in cuts after the Westminster election. £800m of spending in Scotland is nothing compared to a £2.4bn share of cuts."

Continuing Mr Swinney said: "If Ed Balls wants anyone to take him seriously then he must set out exactly when these taxes will be introduced and how much they will raise. Gordon Brown said this money would be available straight away, but Ed Balls has said it could take another year to deliver and there certainly won’t be a full year’s worth of revenue. The SNP has set out spending plans which will see real terms increases in spending while still tackling the deficit in a responsible way. Those plans have been vindicated by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which said Labour could adopt our proposals and still meet its deficit reduction targets."

"Ed Balls must use his visit to Scotland today to say he will ditch Labour’s obsession with pushing through Tory cuts – it is his last chance to do so. The choice in this election is crystal clear – between Labour plans for more Tory-style cuts or for a strong group of SNP MPs at Westminster to keep Labour honest and to help bring an end to austerity." Mr Swinney added.

Mr Balls also came under fire from Lib Dem Treasury Spokesman for appearing to be refusing to take part in a three way Chancellor debate, George Osborne and Danny Alexander. Commenting Mr Alexander said: "This is classic Ed Balls. He’s always keen to rush to TV and radio studios to run down the achievements of the last 5 years, but now he runs from the debates. The time for bluff and bluster is over. He should man up, turn up and speak up. What is he frightened of? I stand ready to explain my role in rescuing the British economy and explaining the Lib Dem vision for the future - how we would borrow less than Labour, cut less than the Tories and keep the British economy on the right track. Maybe Mr Balls doesn't want to defend his party's record in the last Parliament. Or could it be that he knows he has nothing credible to offer for the future?

"But this is a democracy and voters have a right to see and hear the views of those who may shape economic policy at this critical time for our country." Mr Alexander added.