James Forsyth

Miliband’s opportunity in the economic debate

Miliband's opportunity in the economic debate
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Political debate is going to be dominated by the economy between now and the autumn statement. Ed Miliband is trying to use this moment to persuade the public that the Coalition's economic policies have failed. By contrast, the Tories want to highlight how much deeper trouble the country would be in if it did not have the confidence of the bond markets.

The Tories hope that this 'stay close to nurse for fear of something worse' approach will eventually deliver an election victory for them in 2015, given how hard Labour is finding it to regain credibility on the economy. As Ben Brogan wrote the other day, this strategy worked for them in 1992 — the campaign on which both Cameron and Hilton cut their political teeth.

But, as Stephan Shakespeare warns in today's Telegraph, the risk for the Tories is that Ed Miliband successfully turns himself into the tribune of the squeezed middle. A third of the country has a household income of between £20,000 and £50,000 a year and 89 per cent of them think that people like them are bearing the brunt of the cuts.

But only 22 per cent of these people blame the Coalition for this. This is both a problem and an opportunity for Miliband. On one level, it suggests that Labour is failing to get its principal political message across. But on the other, it indicates that — as Stephan says — there's a large group out there that could be receptive to an anti-Coalition message.