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Balls to take ‘tough decisions’ on public sector pay

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has pledged to take “tough decisions” on public sector pay, hitting back at union leaders who have attacked the party’s direction.

On the first day of the Labour Party annual conference, Balls said they needed to protect jobs ahead of securing pay rises.

Last night Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said that Labour had “got it wrong” on pay restraint.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, he said: “They have found themselves trapped as they try to demonstrate to the media and the chattering classes that they have intellectual credibility in their economic thinking.”

McCluskey also predicted that Labour would lose the next election if it did not change course on the issue.

Balls said in his speech today: “What people want is a unified Labour Party taking the argument to the country against a coalition Government which is divided and failing and that's what I'm going to do.

“It’s not my job as shadow chancellor to make everybody happy. My job is to make sure that we’ve got strong, credible policies which add up and make sense and are costed. I can’t come along and say we can make spending and tax commitments now for 2015 – that would be irresponsible.

“I said to the TUC two weeks ago that there would be tough decisions and there would have been cuts under Labour and there will be difficult decisions to come on pay and pensions. That is the way that it is and I have to be absolutely straight with people and with the country.

“We have got a plan for jobs and growth and we are united in driving that plan for jobs and growth. That is, for me, the most important thing.”

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