Mandelson in rallying cry to Labour party

LABOUR politicians are in the &ldquo;fight of our lives&rdquo;, business secretary Lord Mandelson said yesterday, but insisted that the general election was still &ldquo;up for grabs&rdquo;.<br /><br />In a speech designed to unify the party in readiness for a difficult election campaign, Mandelson admitted Labour were the &ldquo;underdogs&rdquo; but savaged the Tories over their approach to the financial crisis.<br /><br />He said the Conservatives had not supported the VAT cut or tax deferment for businesses, had opposed the car scrappage scheme and would not have provided additional money to people who had lost their jobs.<br /><br />&ldquo;They got it plain wrong at every step along the way,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Withdrawing our help for the economy now as Mr Osborne demands would choke off recovery before it has even properly begun.&rdquo;<br /><br />He announced that the car scrappage scheme had been so popular with the automotive industry that he was responding to calls to extend it with extra money for a further 100,000 cars and vans.<br /><br />However, the business secretary conceded that Labour had placed too much of an emphasis on the role of the financial sector in the economy.<br /><br />&ldquo;We nurtured finance &ndash; not wrongly, but we should have done more to nurture our other strengths as well,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />He said the government would now focus on getting young people into higher education or apprenticeships, injecting money into scientific research and development and implementing measures to ensure that financial firms channelled funds to companies.<br />