Brown to claim recession over as union boss warns of poll disaster

PM will deliver an upbeat assessment of the economy at the TUC conference this week – but Unite's joint leader Derek Simpson predicts 'slaughter' unless he axes Mandelson and Miliband

Gordon Brown will declare this week that Britain is emerging from recession and that the economy is on the "road towards recovery".

The Prime Minister will deliver this extraordinarily upbeat assessment in a speech to union leaders exactly one year on from the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the catalyst for the worldwide financial crisis.

It comes as Mr Brown faces a fresh challenge to his authority from the leader of Britain's biggest union, who today warns the premier that he must "move aside" Peter Mandelson and David Miliband or face "slaughter" at the general election.

In his most outspoken interview yet with The Independent on Sunday, Derek Simpson, the joint general secretary of Unite, escalated the threat of a Labour civil war by describing the Secretary of State for Business and Foreign Secretary as "thick" and "Tories".

The insults threatened to overshadow the start of the TUC conference in Liverpool tomorrow and the month-long conference season, which looks set to be dominated by fresh speculation of a leadership challenge.

Mr Simpson, whose union has two million members and gave Labour £15m last year, also infuriated Ed Balls, who regards himself as the natural successor to the Prime Minister, and Downing Street by tipping Ed Miliband as the heir to Mr Brown.

Mr Simpson said Mr Brown was the "right person to lead the party", but was "shuffling and hesitant" and had overseen "half-measures" and "blandishments" that were "not done with any great enthusiasm or passion".

In his speech on Tuesday, the Prime Minister will send a message to Labour critics that they must focus on the dividing lines between the Government and Tory "isolationism" on the economy, rather than plot his downfall.

Mr Brown will say: "Government and leadership are always about making choices. Not about taking the easy route, or the obvious one, but about setting a course and sticking to it, in the best interests of the country.

"The Government would have made a serious mistake if it had listened to its critics. We would have made the wrong choices. But we faced those critics down, and we have been shown to have been right because today we are on a road towards recovery – but things are still fragile, not automatic, and the recovery needs to be nurtured."

He will repeat his claim – contested by David Cameron – that the Tories are planning to put the recovery at risk by planning huge and immediate cuts to frontline services.

The Tories denied as "complete nonsense" a report yesterday that George Osborne, the shadow Chancellor, had asked Nick Macpherson, permanent secretary to the Treasury, to plan for 30 per cent savings – interpreted by Labour as "cuts" – across all government departments.

But while Mr Brown will say Labour will continue to spend in the short term to stabilise the economy, he will warn union leaders that there will be "tough choices" to be made on public spending in the future.

"People's livelihoods and homes and savings are still hanging in the balance, and so today I say to you: don't put the recovery at risk. Don't risk it with the Tories whose obsessive anti-state ideology means they can't see a role for government in either recession or recovery."

Banks must not risk the recovery by refusing to "do their duty" and lend to families and businesses. But Mr Brown will add: "We have to make tough choices in public spending and we will need the support of the Labour movement in protecting the frontline first... Don't risk your members' jobs or the nation's future with the Tories."

Mr Brown's comments risk being branded as overly optimistic. While there are signs of encouragement in the housing market and the stock market, Lord Mandelson cautioned last week that Britain was facing a "double dip" recession. And the shadow Chancellor George Osborne said: "A strong and honest PM would have told the unions the truth about the need to cut spending in a recovery, as in the end it will be the low-paid who suffer most if we don't deal with the debt crisis. Instead, this weak, isolated Labour leader is telling his election paymasters what they want to hear."

Mr Brown will also say that, at next week's G20 summit in Pittsburgh, he will push a commitment to continue spending and refuse to set out a "premature" exit strategy from the fiscal and monetary stimulus phase.

Suggesting a different approach between London and Washington, last week the US Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, said the Obama administration had begun to withdraw emergency support for banks, and that focus should be placed on recovery.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003