Labour will take Britain back to 'nasty 1970s', says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson on campaign

Boris Johnson has accused Labour of wanting to take Britain back to the “nasty, grim, petty” 1970s – the era of “foul racism and union-dominated” politics.

The London mayor made the comment at an event organised by the Legatum Institute, a thinktank, where he was speaking about the “moral purpose” of capitalism. After being challenged on his way in by protesters to talk about inequality, he claimed capitalism was creating a fairer society and helping to increase life expectancy, therefore people will live longer under the Conservatives.

During his speech, Johnson, who was recently named by David Cameron as a potential successor, took the opportunity to attack his political rivals for harking back to previous decades.

“The problem is not that Ed Miliband doesn’t understand the cares and the pains of the poorest and the neediest,” he said. “What he doesn’t understand is the absolute primacy of wealth creation if we are going to deliver these objectives. He does not see that wealth creation, that capitalism, actually has a moral purpose.

“And by attacking wealth creation both in rhetoric and his actions, he would take this country backwards to those 1970s that I spoke of with an orgy of higher taxation and regulation. I remember the 1970s. I wouldn’t want to go back. It was a nasty, grim, petty epoch of really foul racism, frankly, and a union-dominated economy.

“Ukip wants to go back to a mythical version of the 1950s. The Greens probably want to take us back to some time in the middle of the bronze age. The Lib Dems would probably settle for any time when they are above 5%.” He claimed the Conservatives were the only party who thought today was better than yesterday and that tomorrow would be better than today.

In his labelling of political parties by decade, Johnson did not address Labour’s criticism of the Conservatives following the autumn statement that Tory cuts would shrink the state to the size it was in the 1930s as a share of national income.

At the budget, the chancellor, George Osborne, attempted to neutralise this attack by adjusting spending plans for the next parliament, but he still drew accusations that the state as a proportion of GDP would be at its lowest since the 1960s.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rowena Mason Political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 31st March 2015 07.35 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010