First his brother, now Ed Miliband's at war with Ed Balls

Shadow Chancellor believes an apology for overspending would boost David Cameron's attempts to blame Labour

Ed Balls has rejected demands from allies of Ed Miliband that he admit Labour spent too much when they were in power.

In a fresh sign of tension in the Labour leadership, the shadow Chancellor has ruled out making an apology for what the Conservatives describe as Labour's "overspending" during the Blair-Brown years.

A transcript obtained by The Independent shows that Mr Balls told Labour MPs at a private meeting on Monday night: "Our message has most resonance not when we try and distance ourselves from the past or when we defend our record, because people are most concerned about what is happening now."

After studying opinion polls and Labour focus groups, Mr Balls is convinced that the two most powerful opposition messages are that the Coalition is cutting "too far, too fast" and risks creating a "vicious circle" because the cuts will push people out of jobs and stall economic growth.

Last night, aides of Mr Balls and Mr Miliband insisted that there is no split between them over the party's economic strategy. However, some allies of the Labour leader claim Mr Balls does not want to "say sorry" for the high levels of spending under the last government because he was a key architect of Gordon Brown's policy. "We need to admit we didn't get as much value for money from the public spending as we should have got so the voters will give us a hearing and we can move on," one Shadow Cabinet member said.

Mr Balls believes that an apology would play into the Tories' hands, boosting David Cameron's attempts to blame Labour for the deficit and allowing him to point to Labour's admission at the next general election.

At Monday's meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), Mr Balls surprised some MPs by not mentioning Mr Miliband's campaign to appeal to the "squeezed middle" and instead talking about the need to create jobs. Mr Balls' allies hit back, insisting that the shadow Chancellor's "here and now" argument about jobs complemented the Labour leader's more long-term strategy about living standards.

Mr Balls will develop his attack on the Government's strategy in a keynote speech at the London School of Economics tomorrow. It will be his response to the annual Mansion House speech tonight by George Osborne, the Chancellor.

The shadow Chancellor admits that Labour has a long way to go on the economy but believes the Opposition has shifted the argument from "there is no alternative" to "what is the alternative?"

According to the transcript, Mr Balls told the PLP: "Our line that you need jobs and growth to get the deficit down also resonates, as does the argument that the Tories are getting the economy into a vicious circle. People are worried when we tell them the Government is set to borrow £46bn more over the next few years because of slower growth, higher inflation, higher unemployment. But we need to do more to hammer home that message – and that's what shadow ministers will be doing over the coming months."

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
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury
music
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
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: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own