Today’s unemployment figures gave Ed Miliband another opportunity to go after David Cameron at PMQs over the economy. Last week, he clearly felt blunted by the publication of Alistair Darling’s book, which said his own pre-budget report in 2009, the broad outline of which Labour still follows, lacked credibility.
This week, the attack worked reasonably well – Cameron only mentioned Darling once, and it didn’t elicit much of a response.
But Miliband’s wider problem is that while he is trying to create a narrative of a Tory prime minister out of touch with the country and indifferent to people losing their jobs, support for the cuts, while falling, remains positive. David Cameron’s response that the government had no option but to cut public spending to pay down the deficit still chimes with most people.
Miliband’s final question began like this:
The message to those people who have lost their jobs is that the prime minister is not going to change course.
The problem is, Cameron could have used the line himself (albeit without reference to the unemployed). “Staying the course” is one of his favourite catchlines, and helps make him look strong and resolute.
His response went down well in the chamber at least:
It was the last government that robbed young people of the future by piling up the debt.
Until Miliband can move the debate onto his own economic policies, he will continue to be bashed round the head by the failure of those of the last government.