PMQs review: Miliband the radical outplays Cameron

The PM is still in the wrong place on the banking scandal.

The hope among the Tories is that the Libor scandal could yet prove more damaging for Labour than for them. But today's PMQs suggests they are likely to be disappointed. The endless argument between Ed Miliband and David Cameron over which party was more committed to "light-touch regulation" matters less than who is seen as toughest on the banks now. 

Today, Cameron's continuing refusal to establish a judge-led inquiry allowed the Labour leader to play the radical. The key moment came when he said of Cameron, "whenever a scandal breaks, he's slow to act and he stands up for the wrong people". One of the poll findings that most troubles Conservative strategists is the public perception that they are far too close to the banks. Yet Cameron has missed another opportunity to rebut this perception. Miliband's declaration that the Tories are a party "bank-rolled by the banks" will resonate with voters.

Cameron seemed oddly underprepared for Labour's attack, ending his exchange with Miliband with the weak quip: "we've found the Higgs Boson particle. But Labour haven't still found a sense of shame." He can continually remind the public that Labour was too close to the banks but this won't alter the perception that he's in the wrong place now. Cameron eventually resorted to the argument that Labour opposes a parliamentary inquiry because it doesn't want its "dirty washing aired in public". If so, why does it support a full judicial inquiry? There was no one left to ask him.

The other notable thing about today's PMQs was how subdued Ed Balls seemed, his heckles muted, his gestures weak. The Tories will hope and Labour will fear that he was preoccupied with his alleged role in the Libor scandal.

Ed Miliband said Cameron was "slow to act and stands up for the wrong". Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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