James Forsyth

Miliband on the trail

Miliband on the trail
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If you talk to Tory MPs privately and ask them which of the coalition’s budgetary decisions they are most uncomfortable with, they’ll generally indentify the VAT rise and the police cuts (the reductions in the defence and prisons budget are also often mentioned). So it is clever politics for Ed MIliband to be emphasising the VAT rise and the police cuts so heavily in Oldham East and Saddleworth. It enables him to oppose key bits of the deficit reduction programme without sounding like an out of touch left-winger.

If Labour do hold the seat, it will be a boost to Ed Miliband. It will add to the sense that he is establishing himself as Labour leader. Indeed, it is noticeable how it is Labour that has been making the political running in the last few days, albeit at a time when few people are paying much attention to politics.

The other thing that struck me as noteworthy was how Miliband kept emphasising that while there were three parties in the race there were only two directions on offer. This is a sign of how Labour intend to take advantage of being the only major party that isn’t in government.