Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Business
  2. Economics
18 April 2012

PMQs review: the Budget hands Miliband an easy win

Cameron is still unable to defend much of his Chancellor's Budget.

By George Eaton

The first PMQs since the Budget was, unsurprisingly, an easy win for Ed Miliband. David Cameron struggled to defend his decision to cut the 50p tax rate and quickly attempted to change the subject to unemployment, which fell by 35,000 (0.1 per cent) in the last quarter. But as the PM admitted later in the session, unemployment remains “far too high” – today’s figures were nothing to boast about. Cameron’s intervention merely gifted Miliband another opportunity to brand him as “out-of-touch”. As he said, figures that show more than one million young people unemployed are no cause for celebration.

From then on, every time the Labour leader raised an unpopular measure from the calamitous Budget [“even people within Downing Street calling it an ‘omnishambles,'” he quipped] – the 50p tax cut, “the granny tax”, “the charity tax” – the PM turned to the subject of Ken Livingstone’s tax avoidance. But while this story is disastrous for Livingstone, it has done little damage to Miliband. It did, however, highlight just how valuable Cameron believes the re-election of Boris Johnson would be for the Tories. A victory for Johnson would overshadow all of the disasters of the last month.

Perhaps the most significant moment came when Miliband branded George Osborne a “part-time” Chancellor – the first time he’s used this line. “I wonder which job he’s doing today, Mr Speaker?”, he asked, a reference to Osborne’s dual-role as Chancellor and the Tories’ chief election strategist. Aware of how damaging this charge is, Cameron looked furious. If it sticks, Osborne could be permanently damaged.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy