Murphy and Balls ‘singing from same hymn sheet’

JIM Murphy yesterday insisted he and Ed Balls are “singing from the same hymn sheet” on Labour’s spending plans.

Ed Balls, left, and Jim Murphy. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL
Ed Balls, left, and Jim Murphy. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL

The Scottish Labour leader was forced to deny he is at odds with UK party colleagues after shadow chancellor Mr Balls said he could not guarantee Scotland would be exempt from the spending cuts a Labour government would have to make.

Opponents claimed Mr Murphy had been “hung out to dry” as Mr Balls’s comments appeared to contradict those the Scottish leader made in last week’s televised debates.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Speaking on a visit to a nursery in Cumbernauld, Mr Murphy denied that the message of fiscal responsibility set out by Mr Miliband at the UK party’s manifesto launch was unhelpful for his campaign in Scotland.

He said: “I think Scots have a tradition of being people who are canny about wanting to balance the books … The issue is about how you do it.”

Mr Murphy said the Conservatives wanted deep spending cuts, and added that the SNP’s plans for full fiscal autonomy would cut Scotland off from the rest of the UK in terms of sharing resources.

He said: “There’s a different way of doing it, which is balance the books through targeted savings that are fairer and then continued economic growth.

“Ed Balls and I last week were out campaigning together and we’re singing from the same hymn sheet on this.”