Ed Miliband calls on Lib Dems to vote against Budget

By politics.co.uk staff

Ed Miliband has called on Lib Dem MPs to vote against the coalition Budget while responding to the proposals in the Commons today.

Speaking just after midday, the shadow climate change secretary put George Osborne’s Budget in stark contrast to the Liberal Democratic tradition of William Beveridge and John Maynard Keynes.

The Labour leadership hopeful warned that Lib Dems voting for the Budget would forfeit their claim to be progressive at the next election.

“If they vote for this Budget… it will go against everything they have claimed to stand for and it will bring shame upon them,” he said.

“Forty eight hours ago, any fool can see, this Chancellor of the Exchequer did not come to this House to praise the traditions of liberalism, he came to bury them.

“And the question people will be asking in the coming days is this: are they willing to act as his accomplices in the betrayal of that tradition.

“In the last two days, it seems like they are. They have seemed like the hapless salespeople for a Tory back to the future Budget<” he continued.”>

“The chief secretary and the business secretary, the sacrificial victims, scuttling round the TV studios trying to explain away the inexplicable, justify the unjustifiable, and defend the indefensible.

“I say to Liberal Democrats today, it doesn’t have to be this way.”

Pointing to Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes, a well-liked figure on the left of the party, Mr Miliband explicitly urged him to rebel against the government.

“He could lead a movement. He didn’t come into politics to put up VAT, he didn’t come into politics to freeze child benefit.

“He’s not in office, he doesn’t face the choice of resignation. He faces the choice of how to vote.”

Mr Hughes later suggested the Lib Dems might put forward amendments to the finances bill to improve “fairness”.

The tactic of trying to divide the junior coalition partner has already become a key facet of the Labour campaign. Harriet Harman spent more time criticising the Lib Dems in her Budget response than she did attacking the Tories.

There is considerable discomfort at suggestions the Budget is Thatcherite among Lib Dem MPs, but observers doubt whether dissatisfaction is severe enough so early in the electoral cycle for anyone to break ranks on the Budget vote.