Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Cameron kippers Miliband at PMQs

Unemployment higher than it has been in a generation, Britain isolated in Europe, the spectre of recession haunting Christmas spending and yet, and yet, the Conservatives are ahead in the opinion polls for the first time in 17 months.

Someone is doing something wrong here, and it ain't David Cameron. The Prime Minister gave Ed Miliband one mighty slap across the chops at Prime Minister's Questions today, on the one issue that voters identify the Labour leader with - doing in his brother.

It was all going so well for Miliband, teasing the mute Nick Clegg by Cameron's side about the problems of coalition politics, as Lib dem rival Chris Huhme smirked away further up the gangway.

Cameron rose fluidly to tell Miliband it would surprise no one that Lib Dems and Tories had their differences. He said Miliband shouldn't believe everything he reads in the papers.

"It's not that bad," quipped Cameron. "It's not like we're brothers or anything."

Game over - another bruising half hour encounter for the Labour leader, which is becoming a regular occurrence. The focus groups tell Cameron that fratricide is all voters remember Miliband for and every few weeks the PM makes sure that one salient fact doesn't slip from their mind.

Nick Watt of the Guardian thinks today was Miliband has had his Westland moment, when Neil Kinnock failed to kill Thatcher when she was there for the taking.

Labour's longtoothed strategists are biding their time, betting that the short term gains Cameron has made with his British bulldog stance to the EU will rebound as the consequences become clear and the economic weather worsens.

It may take more than that to change Labour's fortunes, and they all know it. I hear that one of the oldest Labour beasts in the jungle, the one who talked Eve into eating the apple, thinks that Ed Miliband can eventually be persuaded to eat something that's not good for him too.

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