New Labour leader Ed Miliband needs to keep his party in the “centre ground of British politics” to win the next election, shadow chancellor Alistair Darling said today.
In what was probably his last major speech to a Labour Party conference, he called for the party to be “credible and confident” to regain the public’s trust.
Mr Darling, who is not standing in the shadow cabinet election, attacked the British government for a “dishonest” approach to public spending cuts.
“Their approach is the same old right wing ideology dressed up as necessity. Their approach is dishonest,” he said.
The shadow chancellor praised Ed Miliband, who has hinted he may depart from the deficit reduction plan set out by Mr Darling in government, as a leader with the “determination, the ability, and the commitment to win back the trust and support we need from the people of this country.
“He knows what needs to be done.”
In a message to the party Mr Darling said: “We cannot ignore the deficit. That would be as foolish as standing back and doing nothing when the crisis hit.
“We had in place tough plans to halve borrowing within four years.
“But don’t let anyone tell you there is no difference between us and this coalition government.
“We never have been, and never will be, the same.
“The Tories are using the need to reduce borrowing as a way of dismantling the support millions depend on. This is not new politics. It is very old politics.
“And the approach they have chosen – and it is a choice – is a huge gamble with growth and jobs.
“For ideological reasons, they are putting at serious risk the recovery we worked so hard to bring about. We have to expose the gamble they’re taking.
“Our approach is measured – and balanced. What we did over the last two years has worked. That’s why our economy is growing, why borrowing is coming down.
“To abandon that balanced approach, as the Tories and Liberals are doing, will put tens of thousands of jobs at risk, and hit the living standards of millions of families in this country.
“But as Ed has said on Saturday, if we set out a credible plan, with conviction and confidence, we can win back the trust and support we lost in May.”
In a plea to the party to avoid a lurch to the left Mr Darling said: “We need to stay in the centre ground of British politics. We must be credible and confident to regain the people’s trust.
“And with Ed as leader we will do that.”