Darling says Conservative victory would threaten UK economy

British Chancellor Alistair Darling warned today that an age of "low growth and austerity" lies ahead if the Conservative Party win power at the election.

British Chancellor Alistair Darling warned today that an age of "low growth and austerity" lies ahead if the Conservative Party win power at the election.

Mr Darling said Conservative leader David Cameron and Shadow Chancellor George Osborne lack the experience and judgment necessary to steer the UK economy back to health.

Mr Darling, who will outline British government measures in a speech in Edinburgh later today, said the Tories had "no plan they are willing to share".

Referring to his move to nationalise Northern Rock and recapitalise the nation's banks, Mr Darling said: "I have had to take the hardest decisions of my political life in the last two years.

"In the last two years, experience and judgment have mattered.

"David Cameron and George Osborne have shown little evidence of either."

Mr Darling cited Tory shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Philip Hammond's recent pledge to make £1.5bn (€1.7bn) of cuts if the party comes to power as proof that the Opposition's figures do not "add up".

He said: "We have a clear plan to halve the deficit in four years.

"As I speak they appear to have no plan. Or no plan they are willing to share.

"We should know how they intend to reduce the deficit. In how many years? How much would they spend next year to support the economy and have they any plan for growth?"

The UK Chancellor said of the forthcoming election: "The choice we make will shape this country for the next 20 years.

"And genuine choices between a Labour government encouraging growth and prosperity, and David Cameron's low ambition, low growth age of austerity."

Mr Darling is expected to tell the conference, entitled 'Economic Recovery And Growth', that the British government's approach is working.

He will announce measures to promote hi-tech business start-ups during the speech in the Scottish capital and stress the need to ensure safe energy supplies - including in renewable and nuclear energy.

A new body, Infrastructure UK, will report to him at the Budget with a strategy for the country's infrastructure.

"To be effective we needed to work closely with other countries and we did," he will say.

"We stabilised the banks to stop the complete collapse of the economy, we helped people get back into work if they lost their jobs, we helped people in difficulty stay in their homes.

"From the Shetlands to Lands End our approach is working. And while there is still much to do, I am confident we will lock in economic recovery."

Mr Cameron is also visiting Scotland today. The Conservative leader will address a party conference in Perth.

The British Chancellor said: "The Tories are marginalised in Scotland - for a very good reason. They're as out of touch with Scotland today as they were in the past.

"The Tories have not changed. David Cameron can airbrush his posters. He can't airbrush his party's past."

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