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Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP

Home Secretary Alan Johnson has called on voters to “take a second look at Labour” following the party’s election launch at Warwick University on Saturday.

Talking to The Stirrer before in the aftermath of the meeting, Johnson - regarded by many Labourites as the heir apparent to Gordon Brown - said: “Part of our message is remember life before 1997.

"People were waiting two years for operations – and maybe six or seven years for a cataract operation.

“There were schools with crumbling buildings, and remember that crime had doubled under the Tories.”

“Look” he added, “this won’t be referendum on how well we’ve done or a vote of thanks, it will be a vote on the future.

“But I’d say have a second look at us – and have a second look at the Tories. Underneath the gloss and the spin, they are the same old Tories.”

But what about the nation’s current economic plight, and the vast scale of borrowing needed to avoid complete meltdown?

Many observers have highlighted failures in the system of the financial regulation, and would say the government’s laxness had created – or at least contributed – to the problem.

Would he accept that as fair comment?

“It’s a global problem which began when the Americans sat back and watched a major investment bank go under.

“There is no one – across the main parties – who doesn’t agree that this is a global recession.

“Many people, including Nobel prize winners and Barack Obama have praised Gordon Brown for showing the way and leading us out of it.”

But surely we can’t go one borrowing money ad infinitum to keep the economy afloat?

“There are two views on this, but you can’t stop spending.

“Governments are the only people who have pockets deep enough - when people have stopped spending – to stimulate the economy.

“If Cameron and Osborne had their way, it would be a very different situation – they were originally saying let’s cut back on public services and usher in an age of austerity.

“That would have turned a recession into a full-scale depression.”

Moving onto local issues, could the government have done more to save Birmingham chocolate maker Cadbury from foreign ownership.

After all, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson had ordered Kraft to “respect the brand”.

There were no such empty words from former postie Johnson – whose free market position couldn't have been more explicit.

“It was a private company. There is an argument for protection, but it is bereft of logic. Protectionism never works.

“It is a tragedy for the people at Cadbury’s if they think this is a bad move, but we mustn’t forget all the British companies who buy up firms abroad.

“You can’t have protectionism at home, and not expect to have protectionism against us.”



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