Ed Miliband addresses members of the public at Redcar and Cleveland College on March 6, 2015. Photograph: Getty Images.
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PMQs review: Miliband wastes an opportunity by going on the TV debates again

The debate about the debates is a process story of little interest to the electorate. 

It was the debate about the TV debates that yet again dominated today's PMQs. Ed Miliband's decision to lead on the subject reflected the weakness of David Cameron's stance and the guaranteed broadcast coverage that results. The Prime Minister's position appeared more contradictory and absurd than ever as he lashed Miliband for having "no policies" and "no plan" while simultaneously rejecting a head-to-head contest with him. He went on to repeatedly avoid the subject by launching his strongest attack yet on Labour's refusal to rule out a post-election deal with the SNP, warning of an "alliance between the people who want to bankrupt Brtain and the people who want to break up Britain". 

Miliband had the edge in the Chamber and Cameron's evasiveness will have been clear to anyone watching. Labour take heart from polls showing that the majority of the public want the debates to happen and regard the PM as the main obstacle. But the problem is how little salience this issue has. Few if any votes will be changed by Cameron's rejectionism. It is, fundamentally, a process story largely of interest to the Westminster media.

Far better would have been for Miliband to lead on defence spending (exploiting a Conservative divide) as two of his MPs, Stella Creasy and Gisela Stuart, did. Alternatively, he could have raised the remarkable figures published by Labour today, showing a 49 per cent rise in long-term youth unemployment among BAME communities. With just two PMQs now remaining before the general election, today's session felt like a wasted opportunity. 

Meanwhile, the tediousness of the debate about the debates is perhaps the best argument for having them. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs

Obama:

The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.

Trump:

For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming

Obama:

With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

Trump:

On the Middle East:

Obama:

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 

Trump:

We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”

Obama:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.

Trump:

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

 

On trade

Obama:

This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  

Trump:

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland