Labour people are starting to come back from their holidays, and they are in a mood little short of despair. Ed Miliband’s “summer of silence” and the criticism it has attracted from some of the party’s biggest beasts have made for a rather gloomy return for many of their MPs and advisers.
Miliband is relying on two events to reset that narrative and re-energise his party: the conference speech and a reshuffle either soon before or soon after conference. Both timings might seem unfair: just before the conference and new shadow ministers don’t have enough time to prepare for interviews and speeches; just after and all the hard pre-conference work is wasted. But such is politics. Read more
David Cameron and his party criticised for 'shirkers vs workers' rhetoric. Getty Images
MPs on all sides of the Commons have piled into the Tories – and particularly George Osborne – over the party’s developing narrative of “shirkers vs workers” (or if you like “skivers vs strivers”).
Sarah Wollaston, the Tory MP, was one of the first from her side to speak out against the kind of image seen in one of her party’s latest campaigns, which depicts an unemployed person slumped on a sofa, apparently unwilling to work. She told the Commons: Read more
The controversy over how Nick Clegg’s £1bn jobs fund is to be paid for has overshadowed the announcement itself, much to the annoyance of the Lib Dems. This morning, John Humphrys spent most of his interview with Clegg asking him whether tax credits were going to be squeezed to pay for his plan.
I should point out that no tax is hypothecated: we should not think the tax credits money is going directly into the jobs fund. However these things are true: Read more
Labour is in a slightly difficult position about how to respond to the news in the FT today that the Treasury is looking to slash benefits by linking them to earnings or even freezing them temporarily.
Although Cameron said he wouldn’t “balance the books on the back of the poor”, Labour knows that attacking the government for hypocrisy on this point could make it look like they are standing up for benefits’ claimants – or “scroungers” as they are thought of by many people.
Instead, the opposition will want to pick its battles. At the moment, the Treasury is still actively considering applying this change to all benefits and pensions, which would affect a lot of people who don’t fall into the “scrounger”. Read more
Interviewed on the Today programme this morning, Liam Byrne was asked a straightforward question; if he wrote his notorious memo (“there’s no money left”) in April did he expect to lose the general election in May? The answers were brilliantly evasive.
Today: You wrote the letter on the sixth of April when the election was called, you obviously didn’t expect to be returning to your desk? Read more