Conservative Party conference: Eric Pickles claims Labour-Lib Dem coalition would mean three-day electricity blackouts, votes for prisoners and soaring taxes

 

A “parallel universe” with a Labour-Lib Dem coalition in power would mean three-day electricity blackouts, votes for prisoners and soaring taxes, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has said.

Imagining what could have happened had the Conservatives not become the senior coalition partners in government, Mr Pickles warned of a "dour" Gordon Brown as prime minister, cursing Tony Blair and listening to the advice of former spin doctor Damian McBride and "policy wonk" Ed Miliband.

He said the Cabinet would have featured disgraced former Lib Dem minister Chris Huhne - elevated to "Lord Huhne of Wormwood Scrubs" - championing prisoner voting rights and "Baron" Len McCluskey, with the Unite union leader abolishing Margaret Thatcher's trade union reforms.

Painting a mental picture at the Tory Party conference in Manchester, Mr Pickles said: "Imagine a parallel universe of a Lib-Lab government clinging to power today.

"Labour would have quickly lost the confidence of the markets for failing to tackle the deficit. Mortgage rates would have soared, and after that, taxes too.

"The chancellor, Ed Balls, would be extending his so-called "mansion tax" to ordinary family homes. Hitting your garden, your patio, your home improvements with soaring council tax.

"The business secretary - Unite's Baron McCluskey of the Mersey Docks - would be abolishing Margaret Thatcher's trade union reforms and turning the clock back to the 1970s.

"The deputy prime minister, the ever-cheerful Vince Cable, would still be urging an economic plan B.

"The equalities minister, Harriet Harman, would be making welfare benefits a human right, assisted by her new human rights czar from the Brazilian Workers Party.

"And the home secretary, Chris Huhne, the newly-elevated Lord Huhne of Wormwood Scrubs, would be championing that great Liberal Democrat cause - votes for prisoners.

"And in the dark, overcast office of Downing Street, candles would be gently flickering during a three-day electricity blackout, the walls scarred with years of flying Nokias and smashed keyboards.

"A dour Scotsman would be quietly cursing Tony Blair for his legacy of boom and bust.

"To his left, Damian McBride, his spin doctor, whispering sweet poisons into his ear. To his even farther left, Ed Miliband, his policy wonk, urging higher taxes, price controls and land grabs.

"In reality, Gordon may be absent. But they are the same old Labour Party."

The Communities Secretary said the damaging revelations in Mr McBride's memoirs showed that Labour is the "nasty party" - traditionally a phrase opponents attach to the Tories.

Mr Pickles said: "I don't know if you've been reading the McBride memoirs. It's twenty quid for a signed copy. The unsigned copies are even more expensive.

"So let me give you the condensed version - yes, there is a nasty party. It's called the Labour Party.

"At the next election, there will be a clear choice between a modern Conservative Party or back to the future with Ed."

PA

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