GORDON Brown has made a personal plea to North East Labour voters to judge the party on its record here.
In a methodical attack on David Cameron’s policies, the Prime Minister has urged voters in the North East to stick with Labour this Thursday.
The PM has set out how proposed Tory cuts to inheritance tax would see just a few hundred households better off while similar cuts to child tax credits raise a threat to more than a quarter of a million North East families.
Mr Brown was in the region over the weekend following claims from both opposition parties that he and his party had taken the region for granted.
In visits to Newcastle, Sunderland and Tynemouth the PM repeated claims that the economic recovery would falter if a Conservative Government carried out a promise to introduce a tough Budget within 50 days of the election.
The PM’s visit to Sunderland saw him interrupted by a heckler who had to be forced out by Labour party members, including the mother of one candidate.
There was further upset in Tynemouth when a planned walkabout in Front Street was cut short as Tory supporters argued with Labour volunteers.
Speaking before party members in Sunderland’s National Glass Centre, Mr Brown warned of disproportionate cuts in the North East if the country elected a Conservative Government.
He said: “Let me sum up the choice in a way that makes it clear for every hard working family.
“The Conservatives might claim to be a one nation party, a progressive party, a party of modernisers. But why then, for this great region – are they proposing to give the most to those who have the most?
“Here in the North East, 290,000 families receive tax credits, and only 400 estates paid inheritance tax – less than anywhere else in the United Kingdom.
“And yet the Conservatives want to hand an inheritance tax cut to millionaires at the same time as they cut tax credits from families on middle incomes.
“That’s not real change – that’s more of the same from a party that doesn’t understand this region, doesn’t understand our country, and doesn’t understand the change we need.”
Mr Brown told The Journal his reason for coming to Tyneside, other than to congratulate Newcastle United on promotion, was to stress the threat to North East jobs posed by the Tories.
He said “We are investing heavily in the regions, in offshore industries, carbon capture and storage and Nissan. It’s about jobs.
“People have seen what we did with Clipper and what we are doing with Siemens and what we have done with Nissan, and it is Government money which is making this possible.”
The Conservatives last night accused Mr Brown of overlooking the worsening economic situation in the region.
Shadow cabinet office minister and former North East minister Lord Bates said the income gap “between this and the rest of the country is widening”.
He added: “After 13 years of 28 Labour MPs’ out of 30 in the region, Labour cabinet ministers and 10 years with a Labour prime minister, the North East economy is in a worse position than ever before and the outlook for jobs is bleak.
“Gordon Brown should be coming the region to apologise. Instead he wants to impose a tax rise on every job which remains.
“Labour has failed the North East, not through deliberate intent but through catastrophic mismanagement and neglect.
“The people of the North East are faced with a choice between five more years of the same or change under the Conservatives. This is the most important election, for the economy of the region, in a generation.”