18:37 Tuesday 26 February 2013

Wheale-Griffiths economy dispute

Written byJOSHUA TAYLOR

THE cost of living will rise and jobs will be lost in Burton unless the Government abandons its austerity policy, the man hoping to become Burton’s next Labour MP has claimed.

Jon Wheale said Britain’s loss of the prized AAA credit rating at the weekend showed the Government’s ‘economic policy is failing’.

Mr Wheale, who will stand against Conservative Andrew Griffiths in the 2015 General Election, said: “Cuts are not the answer — growth is.

“No-one is saying that at a time of global economic difficulty nothing has to change, but the economy is being hit by a double whammy — the necessity of tighter spending and a government which is driven ideologically to shrink the state and public sector spending.

“The result is that the economic recovery seen under the last Labour government has been choked off.”

Mr Wheale said a ‘change of course’ was needed. This, the Labour Party says, would be achieved through increased state spending to stimulate economic growth.

The Government, however, insists it must not waver from its plans to cut public spending.

Mr Wheale said: “The economic credibility of the current government is in tatters. The stripping of the AAA, UK debt doubling by 2017 to £1.5 trillion and the economy being on the edge of an historic edge triple-dip recession all show the Government’s economic policy is failing. I fear this will continue to impact Burton and Uttoxeter — people’s cost of living, their jobs and the future of the next generation.”

Credit rating agency Moody’s downgraded Britain from AAA for the first time since 1978 because growth will ‘remain sluggish over the next few years’.

Mr Griffiths, however, hit back, saying Britain still had the same rating as France and the USA.

“Having almost bankrupted the country, only the Labour Party could think the best thing to do is borrow yet more money,” he said. “Moody’s clearly said the worst thing to do would be to put at risk the policy of paying off debt and cutting spending.

“If we followed Labour’s plan, our credit rating would be through the floor.”

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