- Defence spokesman Jim Murphy was campaign manager for David Miliband
- He outlined how he would make £5bn of defence cuts
Last updated at 4:14 AM on 6th January 2012
One of Ed Miliband’s most senior colleagues has warned that Labour must dump ‘shallow populism’ and stop opposing each and every coalition spending cut.
Jim Murphy, Labour’s defence spokesman, said the party needed to build up credibility by outlining where it would make savings.
The intervention by the man who was joint campaign manager for David Miliband during the Labour leadership contest will be seen as another challenge to the direction in which Ed is taking the party.
Intervention: The criticisms from Jim Murphy, left, will be seen as a challenge to the direction in which Ed Miliband, right, is taking the party
Many in Labour are concerned at polls which show that people do not see the party as credible on the economy and dealing with the deficit.
Mr Murphy said the answer was to state publicly that many of the Coalition’s cuts are justified. He told the Guardian that he himself would be accepting £5billion of the Government’s defence cuts.
He said the party needed to achieve ‘genuine credibility’ on spending.
‘It is important to be both credible and popular when it comes to defence investment and the economics of defence,’ he said.
‘There is a difference between populism and popularity. Credibility is the bridge away from populism and towards popularity.
‘Getting real’: Mr Murphy said he would reduce tank regiments and other areas of the country’s defence programme to save £5billion
‘It is difficult to sustain popularity without genuine credibility. At a time on defence when the Government is neither credible nor popular it is compulsory that Labour is both.’
Mr Murphy said he would make £5bn of cuts by accepting the scrapping of the Nimrod MR4 surveillance aircraft, reducing tank regiments, selling off some defence property and making efficiencies in the Trident renewal programme.
There would also be cuts to civilian allowances, targeting welfare at servicemen earning less than £20,000.
Other possible cuts include accepting Government plans to scrap the VC-10 transporter aircraft and the C-130J Hercules transporter.
Mr Murphy said: ‘The truth is the Labour party would have to make cuts if we were in power.’
But he said he would not accept all the Government’s defence cuts.