Only Labour will protect public services, says Brown

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The big dividing line at the coming general election will be between a Labour Party determined to protect frontline services and a Conservative Party seeking "blanket public spending costs" which would damage the economy, force people out of work and prolong the recession, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said today.

Speaking on the first day of Labour's last annual conference before the election in Brighton, Mr Brown said that there was a "huge difference" between his approach and that of David Cameron's Tories, even though he has now accepted the need for cuts.

While the Tories would start cutting state spending now, Labour would delay reductions until after the recession has ended, he said. And he said no other country in the world was following the Conservative strategy of cutting spending during the downturn.

Mr Brown told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "That is really the political divide. We are determined to protect frontline services - all the advances we have made in schools and hospitals and policing.

"I think you will find that on the opposite side, there is a determination to have blanket public spending cuts which would be bad for the economy and bad for the public services."

He added: "There is a huge difference. Let's be clear, the Conservatives would have cut £5 billion this year - they wouldn't have supported the programme to take us out of recession. We would still be even more deeply in recession under the Conservatives, unemployment would be higher, deficits would be higher, debt would be higher, more small businesses would go under.

"As far as the future is concerned, they would cut £30 billion next year. So you start from a proposition that the Conservatives are cutting now and they would cut massively next year, even before we are absolutely sure we are out of recession.

"There is no country in the world doing what the Conservatives are proposing, because every country has been persuaded by our argument that we have got to make sure we get investment to get out of recession.

"The difference then is that we protect frontline services, while they cut them. That's the simple answer to the question."

Mr Brown said he would use his conference speech to set out how he would deal with "the whole future of our economy and the whole future of our society.

"My fight is for the future of Britain, my fight is for an economy that delivers jobs that are sustained, my fight is for a society where, in an insecure world, people are far clearer about the responsibilities they owe to people as well as clear about the rights they have."

The PM said he expected to see figures "pretty soon" that would show his economic policy was working to bring the UK out of recession.