Conservative Party Conference: Tories attack Brown over policy errors

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The Independent Online
THE TORIES launched a bitter attack on the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, yesterday blaming his policies squarely for Britain's worsening economic situation.

Dubbing him "Culpability Brown" Francis Maude,the shadow chancellor, accused Mr Brown of dodging responsibility for the recent wave of job losses. Mr Maude's keynote speech at the party's conference in Bournemouth coincided with Mr Brown's admission that growth forecasts for Britain would have to be slashed from 2.5 per cent to 1 per cent, putting at risk his spending plans on schools and the NHS.

He said: "Instead of taking responsibility for the damage his policies are doing, he puts the blame on everyone else. His message is clear: `Don't blame me, guv. I'm just the Chancellor'.

"But this downturn was not made on the shop floor or in the boardroom. This a downturn made in Downing Street."

Mr Maude indicated his party's commitment to cutting taxes and pledged that the "Conservative way should never again be seen as the way of mere selfishness."

He went on: "If you raise taxes and attack savings, pile on extra costs and spend through the roof - interest rates will be higher, as sure as night follows day. You are to blame, Gordon. You are Culpability Brown."

Mr Maude said the Tories had made Britain a good place to do business, with low inflation, costs held down and hard work rewarded.

"Now Labour are squandering that legacy. Eighteen years to build - 18 months to blow it. Jobs blown every day, a job lost every 10 minutes."

He mocked the Chancellor's repeated pledge to bring an end to boom and bust. "An end to boom and bust? We've got bust and bust. After boasting all summer that he had the economy under control, Mr Brown has made a humiliating climbdown.

"Back to his kennel like a whipped dog, he'll have to tell us how he'll make the figures add up. Cut spending? Increase borrowing? Or raise taxes? If you can remember how to find the Commons, Gordon, come and tell us."

Mr Maude said after a year of tax and interest rate hikes, manufacturing was collapsing. "High interest rates have forced up the pound and exporters are paying the price."

He claimed the Chancellor had lost control of public spending and launched the "biggest spending spree for a generation".

Coupled with other economic "blunders", this would make the downturn "longer and deeper than it need be".

John Redwood, the trade and industry spokesman, joined the scathing attack during a question and answer session on the Government's industrial policy.

"All the Government can offer is a lame and contradictory set of explanations. while manufacturing is bleeding it to death", he said.

Mr Redwood went on to disclose a new Tory policy to reduce the power of quangos. "I was never a great fan of quangos even when we were in government and now they are somebody else's quangos I am even less of a fan. I want to restore power to the people and away from quangos and it will be one of the big campaigns that we will be waging in the run-up to the next election."