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Ed Balls, Labour’s shadow chancellor, said in response to David Cameron’s speech to the Conservative Spring Forum: 

“When we urgently need a plan for jobs and growth to get the economy moving again and help hard-pressed families all David Cameron and George Osborne can offer is empty words but precious little action. 

“All we’ve heard from this Conference is the reheated rhetoric and warmed up policies of 30 years ago – a VAT rise, deep spending cuts, knee-jerk deregulation and enterprise zones which didn’t work when they were tried in the 1980s. 

“If David Cameron wants to know who is the real enemy of enterprise and growth in Britain today he only needs to look next door at his own Chancellor. It is George Osborne’s reckless plan to cut too deep and too fast, which has seen the economy go into reverse. 

“David Cameron and George Osborne appear to be in denial that in the real world families and businesses are facing the squeeze, petrol prices are at a record high, unemployment is going up again and the recovery has stalled. And they don’t seem to understand that without strong growth and more jobs we can’t get the deficit down. 

“This weekend the Conservatives should have heeded Labour’s call to repeat last year’s £3.5 billion bank bonus tax and use the money raised to support the jobs and growth Britain badly needs this year. And instead of platitudes they should have announced real help for hard-pressed families by immediately reversing the Tory VAT rise on fuel, which has added £1.35 to the cost of filling up a 50 litre tank.”

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