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UK Politics

Ed Balls inspired by children's TV show Rainbow in attack on the Chancellor


Ed Balls drew inspiration from children’s television to heap ridicule on the “failing Chancellor” George Osborne over his plans for spending cuts.

The shadow Chancellor compared Mr Osborne to the character Bungle from the long-running programme Rainbow as he lambasted him for presiding over a catalogue of blunders and broken promises in his three years in office.

Mr Balls said the spending statement would mean more cuts to the police, defence budgets and local services.

In angry Commons clashes, he told Mr Osborne: “You have failed on living standards, growth and the deficit. And families and businesses are paying the price for your failure.”

Mr Balls said bank lending had fallen, Britain had twice lost its cherished AAA credit rating and living standards were dropping.

“You said we were all in this together but then you gave a huge tax cut to millionaires. You promised to balance the books but that promise is in tatters,” he said.

Recalling the disclosure that Barack Obama mistakenly called the Chancellor Jeffrey, the same name as another Rainbow character, Mr Balls said: “Failed tests, broken promises . . . your friends call you George, the President calls you Jeffrey, but to everyone else you are just Bungle.”

He challenged Mr Osborne to take “bold action” now to protect public services rather than promise infrastructure spending in five or seven years’ time.

“Instead of action to boost growth and long-term investment all we got today is more of the same from a failing Chancellor,” he told the Commons.

The Tory MP Andrew Tyrie, the Treasury select committee’s chairman, said: “It’s a great achievement by the Chancellor, the Chief Secretary and the Coalition that they have been able to sustain public expenditure control and se out plans for the years ahead.”

Alistair Darling, the former Labour Chancellor, told Mr Osborne: “In 2010 the economy was actually growing whereas in 2011 unfortunately it stopped growing.

“That is why you are borrowing more than you wanted and why your target to reduce national debt has been moved into the next Parliament.”

John Redwood, a former Conservative Cabinet minister, urged him to go further on welfare reform by considering the idea that “any non-British citizen should have to work for a period and pay taxes before being eligible for benefits”.