THE Tories have stepped up their attacks on the Labour leadership candidates, claiming bookies’ favourite David Miliband must find £55bn of cuts to pay for his campaign promises.
Ed Miliband, who is also within touching distance of winning the leadership contest, will have to find £67bn of spending cuts to fulfil his pledges, the Tories say.
David Miliband backs former chancellor Alistair Darling’s deficit reduction plan, which implied £44bn of cuts by 2014-15.
But the Tories say he has opposed £33bn of cuts outlined by the coalition, including a rise in VAT, cuts to housing benefit and linking public sector pensions and benefit to the CPI measure of inflation.
He has also made a raft of spending promises in the campaign, including more free school meals, a living wage and a national care service for the elderly. The Tories say these will cost more than £22bn.
Having outlined just £11bn of new taxes, such as a mansion tax and a levy on bankers’ bonuses, that means he must find £55bn of cuts or taxes, the Tories say.
Meanwhile, the Tories say Ed Miliband has made over £28bn of spending commitments, while offering just £5bn of tax rises. That would mean he has a £67bn black hole in his campaign promises, assuming he backs Darling’s deficit reduction plan.
The claims are contained in a dossier authored by Matt Hancock, a new Tory backbench MP and a former adviser to chancellor George Osborne.
He said “Both Milibands have feebly opposed all action the coalition has taken to deal with the deficit, and have made billions of further promises.”
But an aide to David Miliband dismissed the findings. “David’s always said he’d wait for the comprehensive spending review before offering detailed plans. We don’t even know what they’re cutting yet – it’s a bit rich for them to start asking us.”
The dossier comes a day before the result of the Labour leadership ballot, which will be announced on the eve of the party’s conference in Manchester tomorrow. Bookmakers and party insiders expect a photo finish between the Miliband brothers.
FAST FACTS | HOW LABOUR WILL CHOOSE ITS NEW LEADER
The voting is split equally three ways between Labour members of the national and European parliaments, party members and members of affiliated trade unions who have not opted out of paying a political levy.
The votes for each nominee in each section are then calculated as a percentage of the total votes cast in that section.
If any candidate receives a majority of votes, they are declared the leader. If not, the last-placed contender drops out and their second preferences are reallocated, until someone passes the 50 per cent figure.
The winner will be announced on Saturday before the party's annual conference in Manchester.
The new leader will not have the power to choose members of the “shadow” cabinet, the Labour front-bench team that monitors, criticises or opposes the decisions of ministers from the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.
Labour members of parliament will elect 19 members of the shadow cabinet, of whom at least six must be women. Nominations open on September 26 and the results will be announced late on October 7.
The new leader decides which cabinet job each of those elected will get, but the procedure means he or she could end up working with shadow cabinet members who have a different political viewpoint.