Labour challenged over spending

The Treasury minister Danny Alexander is to challenge Labour to spell out where it would cut public spending, as he claims the only coherent economic policy put forward by the opposition is in Tony Blair's book – and it backs the coalition.

The Government hopes to steal a march on Labour ahead of Chancellor George Osborne announcing the results of the Comprehensive Spending Review in October.

In a letter to the acting Labour leader Harriet Harman and the five MPs bidding to replace Gordon Brown, Mr Alexander says that campaigns opposing cuts to new school buildings and the VAT rise "smack of opportunism rather than economic competence".

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