James Forsyth

Where does Miliband go now?

Where does Miliband go now?
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How to reduce the deficit is the ground on which the Tories want to take on Ed Miliband. The whole Tory war machine has been mobilised to try and use today’s IMF report which calls the Osborne deficit reduction plan ‘appropriately ambitious’ to flush out Ed Miliband’s position on the deficit.

The deficit is the ground on which Labour would least like to fight right now They know that, in the words of one former Cabinet minister, ‘that his approach to the deficit is what will defined Ed politically.’ But it is hard to make this choice when you don’t know who your shadow Chancellor is and what’s in the comprehensive spending review.

At the moment, Ed Miliband’s line is that Darling’s deficit reduction plan is his ‘starting point.’ As his interview on Marr showed, that’s quite a hard position to maintain when pressed.

To my mind, the politically savvy thing for Ed Miliband to do would be to accept the Darling plan with maybe the odd tweak for a higher bank levy. This would both allow him to show that he’s not lurching to the left and still leave him with tens of billions of pounds of difference with the coalition.