Labour hypocrisy

IT was rather ironic that one of the first acts of the new Labour opposition should be to criticise the new Government for failing to consult Parliament over its £6bn package of budget cuts – and whether the Child Trust Fund's winding up, for example, can be justified.

These are, after all, the same former Ministers who bypassed Parliament at every opportunity, leaked announcements to favoured journalists and whose financial recklessness has led to Britain being lumbered with the biggest budget deficit in Europe.

In hindsight, it would have been preferable if the cutbacks – announced on Monday – could have been laid out before Parliament. But the Queen's Speech only took place on the following day and, frankly, Ministers need to focus on the task in hand – a task made even more difficult by Labour's reckless spending spree in the weeks prior to the election.

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It is clear that outgoing Ministers paid little notice to the

consequences of their actions, and senior civil servants were perfectly within their rights to register their concerns.

The consequences, as Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has pointed out so forthrightly, are immediate savings now – or even deeper cuts in the future. Indeed, the invidiousness of his position is reflected by the fact that the Tories might have to delay plans to hold referenda on whether directly-elected mayors should be introduced in major cities like Leeds and Sheffield.

Taxpayers are going to pay a heavy price for Labour's irresponsibility for years to come. The least that the culpable former Ministers can do is apologise for their shortcomings rather than belittle their

successors.