Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Cameron vs Miliband, round I

So, the PM has met the new Labour leader across the dispatch boxes and political blood has been split.

Cameron got off to a good start by pointing out that the wrong Miliband was asking the questions; the Labour MPs wanted David, not Ed. But that was the only blow he landed. Miliband Minor, who looks like a pigeon pooped on his head, got his teeth into Child Benefit and wouldn't let go. He rightly pointed out that a one-earner household earning £45,000 would lose the benefit but a two-earner household on £80,000 would keep it, and asked: where is the fairness?

Answer came there none; although a lot of bluster filled the void. Cameron really had nowhere to go because clearly the proposed implementation of the cuts is unfair. This is manifest. In fact Cameron never said he thought the policy was fair, he just argued for the necessity of the cuts.

The PM ended up asking Miliband about Labour policy. This is very weak. When the PM starts asking questions it becomes clear to all that he hasn't actually got any answers. Miliband should have calmly replied that if the PM wanted to know about Labour policy he was welcome to come around to Labour HQ afterwards and get a full briefing (Hint to Miliband: Don't answer questions from the PM during PMQs; don't even nod your head. These are PMQs, not questions to the Miliband.)

Miliband didn't land a killer blow though. He should have rapidly moved from asking Cameron about fairness to asking if he will reconsider how the policy is to be implemented. He could even have promised that Labour would not exploit a change of heart for propaganda purposes - for the good of the nation, etc. He could have pleaded. He could have begged on behalf of a supplicant country. A pious mantle was there to be picked up, but he didn't.

Cameron is going to have to raise his game though. And the child benefit issue isn't going away any day soon.

No comments: