Cameron: Miliband should put “both of his left feet forward”


Ed Miliband took to the despatch box today and squared up to David Cameron – who gave Left Foot Forward a special mention – for his first PMQs since being elected as leader of the Labour party. And after some early formalities, Miliband immediately began to attack the Government over the handling of its child benefit policy:

“Let’s be honest, the Chancellor sits there, this policy has been a shambles from day one. The rest of the cabinet knew nothing about it, the local government secretary said he had found out from the media that it was being announced, the children’s minister, I can’t see him, he went on the run because he was too scared to defend the policy.

“I bet the Prime Minister wishes the BBC blackout had gone ahead it was such a shambles, his conference.”

This was Miliband’s swift response to Cameron’s criticism of Labour; in particular that it offered “no alternative”. The prime minister cited Miliband’s July interview with Left Foot Forward, and taunted the new Leader of the Opposition:

“He said in July this year, ‘Whoever is the Labour leader will be that the time of the spending review have to shadow they have an alternative plan’. Where is the alternative plan?

This was a speech he made to an organisation called Left Foot Forward, could I suggest he puts both of his left feet forward and tell us what the plan is?”

Watch it:

Other highlights of the exchange included Miliband mocking Cameron’s preposterous “Cameron Direct” events – one such event held in Bolton, where the prime minister promised to defend child benefit as it was. Miliband demonstrated early confidence, mocking the prime minister for evading his questions:

“That’s naught out of two on straight answers, straight answers to straight questions.”

Another well-timed joke saw Miliband turn the prime minister’s tactic of answering questions with another question back onto him:

“I’m new to this game, but I ask the questions and he should answer them.”

Although it did not represent a comprehensive victory for Miliband, it would have certainly eased any remaining fears people may have had that he wasn’t up to the task.

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  • Anon E Mouse

    I’ve said previously I think it is something morally wrong for the shelf stacker on 12 hour nights at Tesco’s paying taxes to give child benefits to Eric Clapton on £700k for a 90 minute night at the Royal Albert Hall or to Ed Miliband who clearly doesn’t need it.

    Irrespective of not caring about poor people I have to say Ed Miliband did very well especially for his first PMQ’s.

    In fact Gordon Brown didn’t have a single PMQ’s as impressive as this. Ed Miliband surprises me – I disagree with his message but the delivery was pretty faultless…

  • http://www.twitter.com/GreenRupertRead R.Read

    Cameron is laughing all the way to the ballot box, over child benefit, as I’ve argued over at http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/10/07/three-reasons-why-the-child-benefits-fiasco-could-be-a-tory-master-stroke/ . Miliband badly needs to change tack on this one.

  • http://www.twitter.com/GreenRupertRead R.Read

    It is crystal clear in this video from PMQs – Cameron gets to pose now as the one who cares about fairness. It is disastrous.
    The only way out of this is to defend the policy on UNIVERSALIST grounds. And to warn that the NHS is next in line – which is what people are whispering, btw, over at Policy Exchange and at Reform…

  • Evidence based.

    Bit of a coup for you guys really. Would be interested to know if you have a spike in terms of the blog traffic you recieve.

    Whilst Mili did win PMQ’s today, I agree that I don’t think that this is particularly electorally smart from Labour. Generally those on 44kplus aren’t their natural voters and i think in time it will look odd, when their cuts are set out, that they want Millinaires to recieve benefit.

  • Simon

    PMQs is a bit of a sideshow to rally the troops. What’s more important is that Labour come up with an alternative to the doom-and-panic deficit hysteria being used to justify shock-doctrine therapy that the public don’t understand or want.

  • Ash

    He should tackle Cameron over his mixed messages on Child Benefit: half the time he talks as if he didn’t want to cut it but reluctantly decided he had to, and half the time he talks as if he’s proud of having righted a long-standing injustice. Which is it?

    Incidentally, I think there are already signs that this attack on universalism will indeed ultimately end up benefitting the rich at the expense of the poor (as Nicola Smith & others have been arguing): already we’ve seen pressure on Cameron to cut taxes for the rich to compensate them for their loss (e.g. by extending the marriage tax break to top-rate taxpayers), and already the voices calling for child-related benefits for the worse-off to be cut back are getting louder. Less than a week after the abolition of CB for higher-rate taxpayers, the BBC were hosting a debate and conducting a poll (on Sunday Morning Live) on the question “Should we still be paying people to have children?”

  • Anon E Mouse

    Ash – Can someone from the left please explain in simple terms why it is fair the night shift, shelf stacker’s taxes pay for Eric Clapton’s daughter.

    Not a single person on this blog has said it’s right yet people keep prattling on and won’t answer the central issue of fairness.

    Labour are going to look pretty bad if they keep up this line of attack. Universal benefits are a dinosaur that need scrapping – socialism never worked anywhere in the world and there’s no reason why Britain would be an exception.

    Ed Miliband claimed he was the new generation. Doesn’t seem much different to the last one to me…

  • Mr. Sensible

    Mr Mouse, I don’t want to resort to a Cameron tactic, but…

    How is it fair that a household with a combined income of £60000 will keep their child benefit, whereas someone who’s just over the threshold loses it?

    It won’t even cut the deficit; if Cameron extends the regressive married couples allowance to higher-rate taxpayers, the IFS has I believe calculated that this could £1 billion, thereby almost whiping out any savings.

  • Anon E Mouse

    Mr.Sensible – Two things:

    1. Talk about taxation changes to married couples (and civil partnerships) is not the same as action about the same – at the moment it’s just talk. Why not build a narrative about what is rather than what may be?

    2. Agreed on the two parents combined income – it needs tweeking and at the same time sort out the individual tax allowances as well.

    Rupert Read – On your article at Liberal Conspiracy you describe parents on £45K as “poor”. This shows exactly how the left in this country really don’t get it…

  • BobHeavy

    “socialism never worked anywhere in the world and there’s no reason why Britain would be an exception”. A depressing point, your right. Consumerist driven Capitalism is all conquering because it keys in to basic human selfishness. Labour are fighting a loosing battle here and on many fronts because the vast majority of people, here and everywhere else put their own welfare before that of the community. Until we get over ourselves and our addiction to cheap tellies, jeans and burgers, the world, our country and our children will suffer.

    Change starts in the mirror. Sorry for wondering off topic.

  • Anon E Mouse

    BobHeavy – Everyone wanders off topic on this blog – good points on the jeans and burgers. I always quote the Bob Dylan song:

    “Capitalism is above the law they say it don’t count less it sells,
    When it costs too much to build it at home you just build it cheaper someplace else,”

    That was in the eighties – nothing seems to have changed…

  • I.G.

    BobHeavy – in regards to ‘basic human selfishness’, I think you’ll find that the vast majority of people actually support the welfare state.
    It is well documented that people are uncomfortable with the idea of being wealthy amongst the poor. So they should be…

  • Roger

    The entire purpose of the child benefits, student finance changes and the assault on public sector employees is to further detach the middle class from the welfare state.

    Remove every such benefit and eventually they will see themselves no longer as citizens but as oppressed taxpayers supporting a parasitic horde of tax eaters – and will become as fervent prosecutors of class war against the poor as their counterparts in the USA.

    Only problem is that in the short-term they will be very pissed off at whoever strips away those benefits – thus the importance of a) the coalition, b) fixed term parliaments and c) getting the changes implemented asap in the hope that by 2015 the idiot electorate will no longer quite remember who was responsible.

    And even if they do kick the Tories and LDs out in 2015 the damage will have been done – in the slashed and burnt economic wasteland they leave behind it will scarcely be feasible to restore universal benefits or free higher education – and so the artfully administered poison will slowly and insidiously work its way through the class system and eventually reproduce the American two-party system that the bourgeoisie prefer.

    The sheer cold ruthlessness of the Tories and their LD Quislings is actually quite breathtaking – reminds me of Colonel Kurtz’s monologue about the Viet Cong chopping off children’s arms in Apocalypse Now – how can you fight such people?

  • Mr. Sensible

    Mr Mouse Cameron has talked quite clearly about introducing this to ‘make up’ in inverted commars for those people who lose out from the child benefit changes.

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