Ed Balls to reject SNP’s £180bn spending demand

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls will pledge to 'balance the books'. Picture: John Devlin
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls will pledge to 'balance the books'. Picture: John Devlin
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ED BALLS will come to Scotland today to ­reject Nicola Sturgeon’s demands that the next government spends an extra £180 billion in the next five years.

In a tough message Labour’s shadow chancellor – on a visit to Edinburgh and Glasgow – will warn that a Labour government will have to “balance the books”.

Earlier this month the First Minister visited London to state the price of the SNP propping up a Labour government would be an increase in spending of 0.5 per cent, a total of £180 billion, and dropping plans to balance the books by 2020.

Speaking at University College London, she said: “Labour is far too slavishly attached to the Westminster fixation on deficit reduction in isolation.”

However, despite insisting Labour will end the deficit by 2020, Mr Balls will challenge SNP claims his party will repeat Tory austerity policies.

Mr Balls will highlight Labour’s planned mansion tax on homes worth £2 million or more, ending zero hours contracts, raising the minimum wage to £8 an hour and restoring the 50p tax rate for those earning £150,000 or more. He will say: “This is the change Scotland needs but only ­Labour or the Tories can form the next government and every vote for the SNP is another vote which will make it more likely the ­Tories will form the next ­government.”

His speech comes as Scottish Labour launches its first election broadcast under Jim Murphy’s leadership, repeating the message of “balancing the books” in a “fair way”.

Labour’s shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran also pressed home the message yesterday during Scottish questions in the Commons where she revealed Commons’ library figures showed 82 per cent of the 27,000 new jobs north of the Border since 2010 were low paid while 28 per cent were zero hours contracts.

She said: “This government stands up for the wrong people: they help out their friends who have been avoiding their taxes, yet they do not help those who work hard and play by the rules, but do not even get a decent wage in return.”

However, Tory Scotland ­Office minister David Mundell hit back: “You [Labour] could start by endorsing [Scottish Tory leader] Ruth Davidson’s proposal to incentivise the paying of the minimum wage, and that is actually a fact, not rhetoric.”

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