Shadow chancellor Ed Balls yesterday hit back at claims that Labour’s made over £20bn of unfunded spending commitments for 2015-16, accusing George Osborne of publishing a “dodgy dossier, riddled with untruths and errors”.
The emotive phrase, coined following the publication of the Iraq war dossier which was later found to contain a string of mistakes and exaggerations, is an unusual choice given its longstanding negative connection to the Labour government of the time.
Balls was responding to a report published by the Conservatives – based on Treasury research – which claims Labour has made a raft of unfunded commitments which would result in higher spending if the party is elected. Five senior cabinet ministers, including Osborne, gave a press conference outlining the findings yesterday, which included a number of policies Labour claims it has shelved.
“It isn’t an impartial exercise but a political smear based on false assumptions made by Tory advisers, including dozens of claims which are not even Labour’s policies,” Balls said. Labour has previously called on the Office for Budget Responsibility – the UK’s independent fiscal watchdog – to audit each party’s pre-election manifesto.
A Treasury spokesman denied that some of the figures in the report are based on flimsy assumptions, saying that the policies have all been announced by shadow cabinet members. “Voters have a legitimate expectation that if a member of the shadow cabinet stands up and makes a promise that is a promise from the Labour party,” he said.