Is Ed Balls right that Osborne has given up the political “centre ground” to the Labour party?

Sadiq Khan MP is shadow justice secretary and London minister, says Yes.

The “centre ground” is always held by the party that most accurately diagnoses the problems people face in their daily lives, and offers solutions that match their scale. In 2015, that party is Labour. The demands of the British people are clear. They want to reduce the deficit, but in a way that sees the living standards of working people improve. They want the NHS protected and transformed. They want more homes built, stable and secure rents, the minimum wage increased and more apprenticeships. Only Labour meets these criteria. The Tories have abandoned the centre ground: ideologically shrinking the state to 1930s levels, before the NHS was created. Making £7bn of unfunded tax cuts. An NHS crisis, tax cuts for millionaires and a squeeze on the rest of us. It’s because only Labour occupies the centre ground that I’m confident, come May, we will have a Labour government once again. It’s what our country needs.

Charles Lewington is managing director of Hanover Communications and former director of communications for the Conservative Party, says No.

Nice try Ed! I suspect Balls recognises that, under Ed Miliband, Labour has unavoidably shifted to the left, with a raft of anti-business, anti-free market measures. So he is trying to use chancellor George Osborne’s perfectly reasonable five-year deficit reduction plan to falsely claim that the Conservative party will take us back to the 1930s, thereby vacating the so-called “centre ground”. In fact, the chancellor is only talking about returning public spending to GDP ratios to 2003 levels – and who was chancellor then? I believe the whole country has shifted to the right (as does Tony Blair), and David Cameron has taken a lot of knocks from the Tory right as he has stood his ground with centre ground policies on foreign aid and gay marriage. Balls’s problem is that voters are not fooled by this sort of spin. They prefer to read what it says on the tin.

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