Alistair Darling offers reassurance over economic challenges

Alistair Darling has sought to reassure Labour delegates that despite “unprecedented economic challenges” faced by the UK, the government had the right policies to deal with them.

Speaking at the Labour Party Conference in Manchester, the chancellor remained optimistic about his party being able to pull through the “difficult times”, and said prime minister Gordon Brown was best placed to deal with the “extraordinary turbulence” in the financial system.

He said: “Britain is strong, our economy is sound. Times are hard but we must keep things in perspective. Unemployment rose last week but we still have near record numbers of people in work. Inflation is higher than we would like but nowhere near past levels and should fall soon. Interest rates are at 5%, not the double figures of two decades ago.”

His words were arguable far more upbeat than just a few weeks ago, when Darling said Britain was facing its “worst economic downturn” in 60 years.

He added today that he was confident his government could lead the UK through the economic turmoil. “With a government with the experience to make the right long term decisions, and a party with the values essential to guide our country through this new, changed world, we should have confidence in ourselves and confidence in the future.”

Darling also told the BBC ahead of his speech he would take “whatever steps are necessary” to see Britain through the economic crisis, but confirmed today there would be no tax increases for voters.

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