Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Tories would put recovery at risk, warns Gordon Brown

Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a warning to voters today not to hand power to a Conservative Party which would put economic recovery at risk because of an ideological "hatred" of the state.

Speaking to an international meeting of centre-left politicians in London, Mr Brown said the Government was determined to invest in measures to promote growth and preserve jobs in the industries of the future.

And he cited letters signed by more than 60 economists in today's Financial Times, which backed Chancellor Alistair Darling over his decision to delay spending cuts until next year.

The Prime Minister called for international co-operation on a "global solution" to an economic crisis which he said was caused by the banks and not by governments. Meetings of the G8 and G20 in the coming months should agree common rules on banking liquidity, supervision and rewards.

"Either governments co-operate internationally or the unfettered markets will fail us again," he warned.

Mr Brown told the Policy Network conference: "I say to the British people, this is not the time to put the economy at risk. This is the time to make sure that growth and jobs are secured.

"2010 must be the year of growth. It must not be the year when the economy dips back into recession.

"Instead of admitting the mistakes of private banks and institutions in causing the recession, the well-financed right-wing are not only trying to blame governments for the crisis but trying to use legitimate concerns about deficits to scare people into accepting a bleak and austere picture of the future for the majority, and then to use what's happening as a pretext for public services to be marginalised at precisely the moment they should become smarter and more personalised.

"They are using the talk of action on debt to conceal the hard fact that their real position is that they remain wedded, as they have always been, to an ideology that would always make government the problem and deny people the helping hand that government can be."

While seeking to "frighten" voters about the scale of the debt, Conservatives failed to mention that growth would automatically cut into the UK's deficit and bolster investor confidence, said Mr Brown.

"Instead of helping the recovery in our country, Conservative dislike of government, bordering on hatred of government action, would risk recovery now," he said.

Mr Brown said the Government already had plans for halving its deficit over the next four years, and creating a global financial "constitution" so the same problems with "unfettered" markets could not arise again.

He also attacked the "narrow nationalism" of Mr Cameron's Conservatives, saying they would leave the UK facing "isolation and irrelevance" in Europe.

"The obsession of the British Conservative Party with narrow nationalism is totally out of tune with the modern world," he said.

"So let me reassure you today: as long as I remain Prime Minister, Britain will stay firmly in Europe's mainstream, never in its backwaters, and we will resist the attempts of the Conservatives to pull Britain into isolation and irrelevance."

Other leaders attending the conference include George Papandreou, the Prime Minister of crisis-stricken Greece, Spanish Premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, and Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg.