Proof that there is little, if anything, between Labour and the Tory Party policywise came with the news that the Labour leadership has seen off a grassroots attempt to reject austerity measures if Ed Miliband wins the 2015 election.
The party’s National Policy Forum (NPF) was forced to vote on whether to commit to the plan set out by Mr Miliband and Ed Balls of sticking with the Government’s spending plans for 2015/16.
An amendment calling for an emergency budget and the rejection of the 2015/16 spending plans was defeated by 125 votes to 14, with six abstentions, at the gathering of Labour delegates in Milton Keynes.
After the result, shadow chancellor Mr Balls said: “The National Policy Forum has this weekend agreed a policy programme that is radical and credible and based on big reform, not big spending.
“The Labour Party knows that this Conservative-led Government’s failure to balance the books in this Parliament means we will have to make difficult decisions after the next election.
“Party members have endorsed the tough fiscal position Ed Miliband and I have set out. We will match the Government’s overall day-to-day spending totals for 2015/16.
“And we will balance the books, deliver a surplus on the current budget and get the national debt falling as soon as possible in the next Parliament.
“But we will get the deficit down more fairly by reforming our economy for the long-term and reversing David Cameron’s top rate tax cut for the top 1% of earners.”
Party leader Ed Miliband told the gathering yesterday that Labour’s “new settlement” meant “not seeing big spending as the answer”.
Falkirk West MSP, Michael Matheson said,
“Anyone who believes that a NO vote will see anything other than continued cuts in the funding of essential public services can be in no doubt following the events in Milton Keynes.
It was only two short weeks ago Ed Miliband was in Scotland claiming that a NO vote will deliver social justice with a Labour Government in 2015. Just days later and a safe distance from Scotland the Labour leader reaffirms Labour’s right wing credentials with his endorsement of the Tory austerity policies”.
“The message from Milton Keynes is if you believe in social justice then there is only one option on 18 September and that is a YES vote “