POLITICS
05/12/2013 00:48 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 23:58 GMT

Autumn Statement 2013: Economic Recovery 'Patchy', Warns Ex-Cabinet Minister

Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore sits on a park bench close to his constituency office in Galashiels after a TV interview following him being replaced as Scottish Secretary by Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael as part of a coalition reshuffle.

Any economic recovery must not be confined to London and the south of England a former Lib Dem cabinet minister has warned, as the party seeks to ensure the Conservatives do not claim all the credit for growth.

Michael Moore, who served as Scottish secretary until he was unexpectedly reshuffled out of government in October, said the current economic situation was "really challenging" for people and that "there is still a great deal of worry about what the future holds".

In an interview with The Huffington Post UK on the eve of today's Autumn Statement, Moore said: "We've seen over the last few months the beginnings of an economic recovery. But it's patchy. It's patchy in geography terms. In bits of London and the south of England it's much more obvious that this is happening."

Economists are hopeful that overall UK growth in the final quarter of the year will match the 0.8% rate seen in the third quarter. But Moore said that while the economy was on the "right road" the recovery was not being seen in all areas of the economy.

"It's also patchy by sector. Construction is going well sometimes, in other places it's not doing so well. Manufacturing had a good period for a few months a year so after the election, but then had some troubled times, then the figures came back again," he said.

He said it was "thanks to us [Lib Dems]" that any economic recovery would been underpinned by investment in infrastructure and reform of the banking sector.

The comments echo those made by Nick Clegg, who told the Commons on Wednesday: "Without the Liberal Democrats there wouldn't be a recovery."

The MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk also said Clegg and energy secretary Ed Davey had robustly defended the green agenda within government.

"People were roundly expecting a complete retreat on stuff, that's not what happened," he said. "We need to be less dependent on fossil fuels because thy are killing the planet and further more they are a finite resource and we don’t get to splurge on this stuff now without any thought to the consequences for our kids and grand kids."

"These are good strong messages we have got through in the last few weeks and if the Conservatives want to turn their back on the realities of the planet and whats happening in terms of finite resources like oil gas and coal, then that's their issues not ours."

With less than 18 months to go until the election, the Lib Dems are determined to stop the Conservatives from taking all the credit for any economic recovery that may emerge.

Moore also indicated the flagship Lib Dem policy of free school meals for under-7s was part of that package. "A lot of working families are still finding it extremely tough. I think its a really important signal to these families we really do get how tough it is," he said.

The full interview with Michael Moore, in which he discusses leaving cabinet, the Scottish referendum and the position of the Lib Dems after the next election, will be published later this week.