Peter Hoskin

Miliband’s stage directions

Miliband's stage directions
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Labour have sprung a leak, and it's furnishing the Times with some high-grade copy. Yesterday, the paper got their hands on an internal party memo about economic policy. Today, it's one on how Ed Miliband should deal with PMQs (£). With this week's bout only an hour-and-a-half away, here are some of the key snippets:

1. The Big Prize. "The big prize is usually to provoke the PM into appearing evasive by repeatedly failing to answer a simple question, often one that requires a simple Yes or No."

2. Cheer lines. "It's important to have a cheer line that goes down well in the chamber and can be clipped easily by the broadcasters. Mocking humour us especially useful here, especially if it strikes a chord with Tory backbenchers to silence them."

3. Cameron's tactics. "His favourite tactics include: i) Quoting Labour politicians in order to rebut the Leader of the Opposition's argument, e.g. quoting GB when answering on fiscal responsibility; ii) Shoehorning prepared jokes into his answer, irrespective of the question, normally based on a story in the news that week, e.g. Peter Mandelson's book, Harriet's "peace pods" at DCLG; iii) To ask a question to the Leader of the Opposition, particularly in his sixth answer so that the Leader cannot respond."

4. Cameron's weaknesses. "His main weaknesses are: i) Predictability. He sticks very tightly to his overall political messages, particularly on the deficit; ii) Detail. Unless he is well briefed on a particular issue, he tends to prefer to answer in generalities before mooching onto the attack; iii) Aggression. He moves quickly to practised answer and, sometimes, unrehearsed insults.”

As for today, those encouraging growth figures, and now this, are hardly an ideal backdrop for MiliE. I expect he'll major on housing benefit, as Labour MPs did when facing Clegg yesterday, and where there are signs of some disharmony in the coalition.