Brown defends "stable" Budget
Gordon Brown has insisted his spending plans, set out yesterday in his Budget speech, are affordable as they rest on the foundation of a stable and gr
17:34 17 March 2005
Gordon Brown has insisted his spending plans, set out yesterday in his Budget speech, are affordable as they rest on the foundation of a stable and growing economy.
The chancellor's plans have met with a positive reception in parts of the press this morning, where he has been featured as the cartoon character Mr Incredible. But there have also been concerns expressed about his deficit predictions, with some commentators backing Tory warnings that post-election tax increases are inevitable.
But Mr Brown has attacked the Conservatives' spending plans as he and Tony Blair unveiled Labour's latest pre-election campaign designed to undermine the Tories.
"All our spending plans are affordable, we're meeting all our fiscal rules," Mr Brown told the Today programme.
"We're in a far better fiscal position than other countries, including America, Japan and Germany and other countries that have got higher deficits and higher debt than ours."
He said that his refusal to take risks with the stability of the economy and public finances meant there was a "modest fiscal tightening" in the Budget, "which I think people found unusual for chancellors in advance of elections".
All the spending plans announced yesterday, "including what we could do for pensioners as well as for young families and on stamp duty and inheritance tax", are costed and affordable according to the spending plans Mr Brown said.
As for observations that while his prediction for economic growth have been accurate, his estimates on the deficit have had a less positive track record, Mr Brown said this was not the case.
"What we've been right about is the growth path of the economy first of all, and most of the predictions about the deficits being far higher than they have actually been have come from those who've been wrong about the growth path of the economy."
Mr Brown joined the prime minister this morning at a launch of a new poster campaign as the duo put on a joint public front following the Budget.
The latest poster is a bright yellow warning sign, claiming that the Tories would cut spending on services by 35 billion if elected.
Mr Blair said that there was a "fundamental dividing line" between the parties and that the public are faced with a choice between a Labour government that will invest in public services, or a Conservative government that would cut spending by more than the total cost of all civil servants or teachers.
Mr Brown added that the election campaign would contrast stability and growth under Labour, with instability and cuts under the Conservatives. He also highlighted the Conservative party's own announcement on these cuts, and declared that this is not a mere "allegation".
The chancellor stressed that even sacking every civil servant would leave the Conservatives with 20billion more cuts to make. And he claimed that the public want investment in services, rather than cuts equivalent to every teacher, nurse and doctor in the country.
"[Growth] is the key to the fiscal position, to our ability to finance public services, and I do not want that put at risk by a Conservative party that threatens both the stability of the economy, and would involve 35biliion of spending cuts," Mr Brown added.