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Nick Clegg: Ed Miliband is clutching at straws and now he's down to his last one

April 7, 2014 8:01 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

The Labour leadership has spent the last four years praying that the recovery would not materialise.

For a long time they insisted that the Coalition's action to tackle the deficit would choke off growth. Wrong: the deficit has been eliminated by a third and growth is back.

Then they claimed unemployment would rise by a million. Wrong: unemployment is coming down and we are seeing record numbers of people in work.

Now, having decisively lost these arguments, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have settled on a different refrain: blaming the Coalition for a crisis in the cost of living.

It's certainly true that many households have been under considerable pressure, and for a number of years: individual families struggling to make ends meet; a country that has, collectively, made big sacrifices in order to get our economy back on track.

But we mustn't forget what got us here in the first place. In 2008 we experienced a crisis in our banks which brought the country to its knees and which damaged our economy in ways which were deep and profound. Labour were the authors of that crisis and yet they now seek to deny any responsibility for it. They still do not understand that healthy household budgets flow directly from a healthy economy - you cannot divorce the two. When Labour were in government they made each family £3,000 worse off by overseeing a recession that wiped £112bn from our economy.

The Coalition government, by contrast, is fixing the foundations on which our economy is built, creating the conditions for greater confidence, more jobs and further growth; in short, building a stronger economy from which the entire country will benefit. We are also seeking to help families however we can, whether through easing childcare costs, freezing fuel duty or keeping council tax bills down. By sticking to our economic strategy we have made it possible for interest rates to stay at record lows. Plus thanks to the Liberal Democrats millions of people will not pay a penny of income on the first £10,500 they earn.

The Labour leadership is also now claiming that people's wages are no longer linked to rising growth. Again, this isn't true. The figures show that for all but the richest 10% people's take home pay went up by more than inflation last year, and as the recovery continues forecasters are now predicting that real term wages will continue to rise in 2014.

Ed Miliband is clutching at straws and now he's down to his last one. Instead of making specious claims, the Labour party should take responsibility for the past: apologising to the British people for presiding over the biggest economic crisis in living memory and pursuing a credible economic strategy to prove that they have learnt from their mistakes.