David Blackburn

Miliband versus Dave – round one

Miliband versus Dave – round one
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Well, here it is. Ed Miliband will meet David Cameron for the first time at PMQs today. For all his determination and tactical sense, Miliband has his work cut out. Neither gave vintage speeches at the recent party conferences, but, in terms of presentation, Cameron’s easy wit trumps Miliband’s adenoidal drone.

This will be Westminster's final act of posturing before next Wednesday’s spending review, a vanity soon to be forgotten. However, Labour has to fertilise its barren economic policy, and quickly. PMQs is the best opportunity to start. 

Labour's strategy is clear: the government has made no plans for growth; in fact, their cuts are inimical to growth and squeeze hard-pressed middle earners. This was Alan Johnson’s and John Denham’s respective refrains yesterday and I expect Miliband to reprise the meme.

To that end, he has been given the perfect headline by PriceWaterhouseCoopers’s findings that the private sector could lose almost half a million jobs, and 46 billion pounds in gross annual output by 2014-2015, as public sector cuts poison the supply chain. The report also concluded that the OBR’s private sector employment predictions are ‘ambitious’.  The substance of the report is not drastic – a double dip will be avoided and unemployment will merely slow the pace of recovery. But the headline is what counts. Together with the coalition’s internal tuition fee row (exacerbated by Simon Hughes this morning), this report gives Miliband some much needed ammunition to make a decent impression, and not have his party longing for the days of Hattie.