Ignoring the deficit would be a disaster, Darling warns party

ALISTAIR Darling yesterday warned of “disastrous consequences” if the Labour party ignores Britain’s £160bn budget deficit.

Darling, who as chancellor pledged to halve the deficit within four years, said the party
needed to set out a “credible plan with conviction and confidence”.

He added: “People know there is a deficit, they know it needs to come down and if you deny that, frankly, people will not listen to you, they will walk away and it will have a disastrous consequence.”

The former chancellor has previously said Labour lost the election because it was dishonest about the deficit.

Darling’s remarks will be seen as a thinly-veiled attack on Ed Balls, the former schools secretary who argued for a slower pace of deficit reduction in the Labour leadership campaign.

His comments come as new Labour leader Ed Miliband tries to convince his brother David, who he defeated in the contest to lead the party, to become shadow chancellor.

But while David Miliband is fully signed up to Darling’s deficit reduction proposals, his younger brother this week said it was a plan that needed to be “improved”.

David Miliband has refused to say whether he will serve in his brother’s shadow cabinet, leading to speculation he will quit frontline politics this week.

Sources close to Ed Miliband are annoyed at his brother’s refusal to set out his position. “The will he stay, will he go show is a massive distraction,” a campaign aide said yesterday.

Balls and wife Yvette Cooper are being considered as contenders for the top economic brief if David Miliband does quit.