The Guardian`s editorial rightly described Cameron`s conduct at prime minister`s questions this week as "absurd", and the increased vitriol aimed at Miliband recently definitely suggests that the "Tory strategist" Crosby is having more than a little influence on tactics.Miliband will, no doubt, see fit to compare notes with that other victim of Aussie "sledging", Stuart Broad, when he returns from the Ashes tour!
It was right too, in its advice to the Labour leader to stick to "addressing the real substance" and avoid "vituperative" retaliation, as Cameron is certainly better prepared for the latter than the former.There is plenty of "substance" available for Miliband, for, as Tim Matthews writes, there can be no economic recovery, despite Cameron`s posturing, when the amount of household debt, foodbanks and malnutrition is rising daily (Letters,22/11/13) and the only new jobs are part-time, with zero hours contracts. Any contact Miliband may have had with Flowers was certainly mistaken, but the whole affair gives him an excellent opportunity to break with the banks and, indeed, all things City; the Tories may like to harp on about the cost of benefits and such like, but the biggest draw on government resources has been the banks, not only because of the bail-out after their excessive greed caused the 2008 financial crisis, but the £375bn worth of quantitative easing they received for their recapitalisation. Yet they still have to act fraudulently, mis-sell, fix Libor rates and manipulate currency markets in their quest for the all-important profit. Labour must distance itself from them, not only because it`s an electorally sensible decision, it`s a morally correct one too!
Miliband can play an important part, too, in improving that gladitorial circus of braying that is the weekly PMQs: the Speaker should be asked to insist that all questions are responded to by the prime minister with actual answers rather than political-point scoring; Labour MPs should be told to act with decorum and actually remain seated, unless asking a question, so that the government benches look more foolish than usual; and their questions need vetting to avoid repetition and overlap. If Labour is serious in its attempts to woo the younger voters, its behaviour at PMQs, like its policies, has to be markedly different from that of the Tories.