Osborne tells voters ‘home truths’

By Laura Miller

George Osborne today told the public that times are tough with only hard work on the horizon and no quick fixes to the economic problem.

The shadow chancellor relied on “uncomfortable truths” to win over voters at a speech in Birmingham, and issued stark warnings that the easy times were over and now people must change the way they work and live.

Speaking about his “home truths” approach Mr Osborne said: “It means telling people that they can’t rely on massive increases in house prices to fund their retirement, and that they will have to save for a deposit to buy their own home. It means pointing out that increasing profits through ever-higher debts is not a sustainable way to build a business.”

With the economic crisis upstaging other domestic policy, the two main parties are both keen to be seen to be leading on the issue.

Mr Osborne’s speech coincided with an address by Gordon Brown in Dundee where the PM demanded a global tightening of the bankers’ bonus culture, which he hopes to secure at the G20 meeting next month.

In his speech Mr Brown made repeated pleas for “internationalism” during the crisis, calling for people to “stand together” bound by “international principles”, and for banks to be brought into line using increased “international financial regulation”.

“We can not retreat into seperatist dogma,” he said, using Scotland as an example of a country that does better when working with the UK than without it, taking a swipe at the drive for independence by Alex Salmond, Scottish first minister and leader of the Scottish Nationalist party (SNP).

Ed Balls, children secretary and Mr Brown’s former chief economic adviser, was forced to admit yesterday that Labour had not been tough enough on the banks since 1997. “We underestimated the risks,” he said. He is the latest minister to admit Labour’s failings over regulation in the private sector.

But Mr Osborne also warned today that the public-sector is not exempt from reform: “The unsustainable debts in our banks are a reflection of unsustainable debts in our households, our companies and our government. Our economy is broken and Gordon Brown’s sticking plasters won’t mend it. We need a new model of growth.”

Mr Brown accused the Tories of “cutting vital services on which the prosperity of our people depends.”

Labour and the Tories have both released plans to ease the country out of recession by making Britain a global leader in green industry in a low carbon future.