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Labour has run out of ideas: "They have run out of ideas. The economy is on its knees, enterprise is suffocated, we’re falling behind in the race to the future. And what is there proposal? A return to the 1970s with a 50% top rate of tax. With the dishonesty of trying to present a £2 billion tax rise on the wealthy as the answer to a £200 billion borrowing requirement. So out goes all that New Labour talk of ‘aspiration’ and ‘opportunity’ and owning the centre ground. In comes all that Old Labour language of ‘soak the rich’ and ‘make the pips squeak’. We will look back at this time and realise that we were hearing the last, sour notes of a requiem mass. New Labour. Born 1994. Died April 22nd 2009. Private funeral. Don’t send flowers."

Labour have taxed dishonestly: "Our priority must be to stop the tax rises on the many not just the few. Perhaps we should not be surprised that the great New Labour experiment ended like this. It was always built on an economic lie. The lie that you could go on increasing spending faster than your economy was growing, and never have to pay for it. At first, they promised there would be ‘no tax increases at all’. Then they turned to stealth taxes, like the tax raid that did so much damage to pensions. After that they tried stealth spending through PFI. And still it was not enough. So they sold our gold at a record low, and then they started to borrow when our economy was on a high. They borrowed and they borrowed, and they never stopped. They should have fixed the roof while the sun was shining. Instead they stored up debts that will take a generation to pay off."

Conservatives were right on the fiscal stimulus: "Last autumn, I stood before you at our Party Conference and I told you that the cupboard was bare. It’s worse than I thought. The cupboard itself is about to taken away by the bailiffs. The public finances are out of control and that presents a clear and present danger to the prosperity of an entire generation. We must act and act fast. We need a government of thrift in this age of austerity. David Cameron and I have earned the right to be heard on this. It wasn’t easy standing up and telling the public that the country could not afford Labour’s temporary VAT cut, but we did it and we did it almost alone. And it wasn’t easy standing up and telling some people in this party that sound money is the only route to real tax cuts – but we did that too."

HAMMOND PHILIP Philip Hammond will be one of the most powerful members of a Cameron government: "Gordon Brown downgraded the job of Chief Secretary and removed from his Cabinet colleagues their right to be involved in the overall spending decisions of government. I want our Chief Secretary, Philip Hammond, the star of this week’s Question Time, to be one of the most powerful members of the government. I want my colleagues in Cabinet to be collectively responsible for the spending decisions we take. They won’t be the representatives of their departments in the Cabinet, they will be the representatives of the Cabinet in their departments."  Yesterday's ConHome survey of members found Philip Hammond rising steadily up the shadow cabinet league table.

Conservatives will be more specific about how we'll fix things but only when the time is right: "given how dramatically the borrowing forecasts have deteriorated and how fast this last Budget has unraveled, I ask how sensible would it be to write that 2010 Budget now? Yes, we will give specifics. Yes, we will seek a mandate. But we will take our time and get it right – because we can see today with this government what happens when you get it wrong."

14 comments for: Highlights of George Osborne’s speech to the Cheltenham Spring Forum

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