Shadow chancellor Alan Johnson today warned that the Government's spending cuts would cause more damage than those inflicted by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.
In his strongest attack so far on the coalition's deficit-reduction plans, he said they would "fundamentally alter our community" and require years of repair.
He also raised the spectre of a double-dip recession, claiming that the Conservative-Liberal Democrat administration was putting economic growth at risk with cuts of 25% over four years.
Pointing to the continued economic turmoil in Ireland, he told The Observer: "We don't have to look far to see what the effect can be of cutting too deep too soon.
"Even if double dip doesn't happen, the way this coalition is implementing these changes will fundamentally alter our community and lead to a situation where we spend years trying to repair the damage.