Balls: We shouldn’t have promised to halve the deficit

By staff

Labour’s election promise to halve the deficit within five years was a mistake, Ed Balls has admitted.

Speaking on a webchat to the BBC the education secretary said he thought the timetable was too quick.

“Halving the deficit in four years by cutting public spending … I think was a mistake,” he said.

“In government at the time in 2009 I always accepted collective responsibility, but at the time in 2009 I thought the pace of deficit reduction through spending cuts was not deliverable, I didn’t think it could have been done.”

Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown fixed in law their promise to halve the deficit, in a bid to counteract Conservative attacks on the government’s management of the economy.

But that decision has blunted Labour’s post-election attacks on the Conservatives, as many charges of irresponsible spending cuts from the opposition benches is met with the Tory rebuttal that Labour also promised a package of cuts.