Tony Blair: I 'regret' not making cuts before 2008 crisis
Former PM says UK would have been better prepared if 2005 cuts had been put into action
TONY BLAIR has admitted that Labour should have made significant spending cuts before the 2008 global financial crisis engulfed the UK, The Times reports.
The former PM told a Q&A forum at Queen Mary, University of London he "regretted" not following through on a 2005 plan to "weed out billions in unnecessary and wasteful spending".
The Times says his admission flies in the face of repeated refusals by Labour's current leaders to accept Conservative accusations that the party let "spending run out of control and left Britain exposed when the credit crunch arrived".
While Blair said nothing could have staved off the UK's most recent recession, he said an efficiencies plan - known as the Fundamental Savings Review (FSR) - could have put the country in a better position to cope with the downturn.
"I think the honest truth is, around the 2005 time, we — and this was a debate that was had in government at the time — [had] this thing called the Fundamental Savings Review that didn't really go anywhere," he said.
Blair added that the possible effect of the FSR "pales into insignificance compared with the impact of the financial crisis, frankly".
Labour insiders told the Times that one of the "key figures" overseeing the FSR in 2005 was the party's current leader, Ed Miliband. He was a special advisor to Gordon Brown at the time and the then-chancellor's decision not to carry out the cost-cutting measures has been described by Blair's former chief of staff Jonathan Powell, as "probably the most damaging example of the 'stand-off' between Blair and Brown".
"Gordon refused to allow it to happen while Tony was still Prime Minister," Powell wrote. "We missed an opportunity to put the country into a better fiscal position going into the economic crash of 2008."
Blair also told his audience at Queen Mary that he believes politicians should have a career outside of politics for "several years" before taking up a seat in the Commons. ·