Mandelson in hint at Labour spending cuts

BUSINESS secretary Lord Mandelson yesterday promised that Labour would be &ldquo;wise spenders, not big spenders&rdquo;, as he sought to regain ground lost to the Conservatives ahead of next year&rsquo;s general election.<br /><br />Reviving a slogan last used in Labour&rsquo;s 1997 electoral campaign, Mandelson attacked the opposition, whom he said would hamper economic recovery by withdrawing stimulus measures too early.<br /><br />&ldquo;At the G20 finance minister&rsquo;s meeting there was unanimity that the stimulus should continue,&rdquo; said the business secretary.<br /><br />&ldquo;Yet alone, and in their haste for cuts, the Tories are arguing for its immediate withdrawal before recovery is fully under way.&rdquo;<br /><br />Mandelson did not lay out a blueprint for cutting the &pound;175bn budget deficit, but signalled spending cuts, saying that the government would look to &ldquo;prioritise and economise&rdquo;.<br /><br />By contrast, he claimed the Conservatives were &ldquo;foaming at the mouth&rdquo; to cut public spending, which he said would amount to &ldquo;economic lunacy&rdquo;.<br /><br />Mandelson&rsquo;s hint at more cautious public spending echoes comments made last week by chancellor Alistair Darling and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who said the government would have to make &ldquo;tough choices&rdquo; about where to allocate funds.<br /><br />Meanwhile, Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), has lashed out at what he termed the &ldquo;obscene joke&rdquo; of bankers&rsquo; bonuses.<br /><br />Addressing the annual TUC conference in Liverpool, Barber said there would be no recovery until unemployment began to ease and public services were declared safe from cuts.<br /><br />Barber&rsquo;s comments came as Compass, the left-leaning think tank, intensified its calls for a High Pay Commission. Compass said there was huge support for a clamp-down on excessive pay.<br />