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
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

Ashdown Group: Learning & Development Manager - North London - £53,000

£45000 - £53000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Learning & Develo...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executive - Magazines

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's largest regional newspaper pub...

Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Publishing

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant - Oxford

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: As a successful and growing Security Installat...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
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