How to Respond to a Budget
All Ed Miliband had to do was to remember one of Matthew Parris’s parliamentary sketches of the early Blair:
He tweaked this, prodded that, inspected the teeth of a clause or two – and pronounced that it did not pass muster. It was all got up for the hustings.
That was Tony Blair, against Michael Howard on an employment green paper in 1991. A Budget is a bigger event, and Blair’s responses to those when he was leader of the opposition were unmemorable.
But unmemorable is better than embarrassing. Miliband’s response today was dangerously close to being memorable. The Conservatives put out a Facebook advert tonight listing all the things Miliband failed to mention in his speech: helping savers, pensions, capping welfare and apprenticeships.
But it was worse than that. Miliband failed to mention the Budget.
All he had to do was to say that the measures on pensions were interesting; that Rachel Reeves had raised the problem of people being forced to buy annuities offering low returns; that Labour would look at what the Chancellor was proposing and would support it if it was sensible.
Then he could have said the Budget was an attempt to prevent UKIP taking too many votes from the Tories at the European Parliament elections, that the Chancellor was running scared and it was “all got up for the hustings”.
Then he could have sat down and got away with not knowing the first thing about what George Osborne was talking about.
As it was, his floundering was all too obvious for everyone to see.Tagged in: budget, ed miliband, george osborne
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