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In just one day Alan Johnson offends Britain's biggest businesses, refuses to take journalists' questions and adds £10bn to Labour's fiscal black hole

By Tim Montgomerie

Shadow Chancellor Alan Johnson made at least three mistakes today.

JOHNSON-ALAN-PINK-TIE First he accused the business leaders who wrote to today's Telegraph of being "politically-motivated". These businessleaders include the leaders of M&S, ASDA, Microsoft UK and other hugely successful enterprises. Their support for George Osborne's deficit reduction strategy follows other endorsements from the IMF and OECD. Attacking some of Britain's most successful businessmen as Tory stooges risks repeating the sort of row that Lord Mandelson triggered when, earlier in the year, he launched a broadside against the businesses who supported the Conservative position on National Insurance rises. Labour should address the underlying arguments of people - not accuse them of playing politics.

The London Evening Standard leads page two on Johnson's anti-business attack.

Second he refused to take journalists' questions after giving his speech earlier today. Jim Pickard of the FT was unimpressed:

"Rightly or wrongly it made it look as if the MP (who is not exactly an ingenue, having held five cabinet posts) could not be trusted by his handlers to veer off-script. Not the greatest first impression to make."

Third he appeared to make an unfunded promise of an extra £10bn in spending. Michael Fallon MP, Deputy Tory Chairman, rushed out a press release noting the £76bn hole in Labour's deficit plan. The screengrab below (click on it to enlarge) from the press release summarises how Conservative HQ get to that total. It is made up of commitments made by Ed Miliband and Mr Johnson over recent weeks - including today's £10bn unfunded capital spending commitment - and deficit-reducing measures made by the Coalition but opposed by Labour...

Screen shot 2010-10-18 at 18.20.14


The public - by 2-to-1 - are right to trust Cameron and Osborne over Miliband and Johnson with the British economy.