Verdict: On the whole that can be considered a good morning’s work for Ed, but there’s more to be done in terms of sharpening the message.
It was important after Alan Johnson’s recent National Insurance gaffe that the leader and his shadow chancellor were seen together. Johnson has been more “on message” of late, but now – having been given a very public vote of confidence from Ed – he owes the leader something, and that should see Johnson and Miliband working more in tandem.
Ed will be happy that the press conference stayed (for the most part) on the economy as he intended, but the contrast between Miliband’s opening speech and the questions from the press was stark. The follow up was largely “what would you cut?” – which I’d hoped we were moving beyond. If Miliband is to say that he won’t oppose all cuts though, he will need to answer the cuts question in a more compelling way.
Miliband was confident and comfortable today, and although he hasn’t quite got the names of the lobby journalists down just yet (mixing names up at one point), there seemed to be a fairly relaxed atmosphere amongst the journalists present, despite their pointed questions. He by no means has the press on his side yet – but he may be getting there, which is no mean feat.
The proof though, is what is written of this morning, and whether Miliband can use this as a springboard to dominate the press this week as he had begun to do before Christmas. On this evidence, we’re not there – yet.
10.50: “This is a party that people are moving towards, not away from”, says Miliband – but he doesn’t answer the “What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as leader question. He’s dodged quite a few questions today – almost Cameron-esque.
10.47: In response to a question about David Miliband’s potential TV career, Ed says “My brother will be successful in whatever he does”.
10.44: Miliband says having the AV referendum in May is a mistake, but he’ll be campaigning vocally in favour of AV. He says he’ll shar a platform with whoever Yes2AV ask him to share a platform with. He doesn’t mention Clegg by name, but that’s the implication.
10.40: Strikes are a last resort and aren’t the way to take forward a political agenda, says Miliband. Ed is doing his best to shed that red tag this morning.
10.37: Miliband says (in response to the Morning Star) that his leadership won’t be judged by how many marches he goes on, and stresses the other ways in which he can hold the government to account. We’ll be at the TUC demo on March 26th – but will Ed? He’s being coy at the moment.
10.34: “Ed Balls has taken exactly the right and responsible position (on control orders)” – it’s not clear what Miliband’s position is going to be on control orders though.
10.32: “My mother always taught me never to call someone a liar”, says Ed. He doesn’t – but he says they’re practising a deceit, much to the amusement of the room.
10.30: Ed says that the purpose of politics is that “the next generation does better than the last”, as he highlights the trebling of tuition fees as one of the biggest issues of the past six months.
10.26: Miliband also says he has a shadow chancellor who he’d back “every day of the week” over George Osborne, after he was asked if he has concerns over Johnson’s occasional “factual errors” and lack of economic experience.
10.25: Miliband says both he and Alan Johnson have the same position on the 50p tax rate – keep it for this Parliament, and it is unlikely to be removed in the next.
10.23: In response to further badgering from Robinson, Ed Miliband says that spending was within “acceptable limits” under Labour.
10.19: BBC’s Nick Robinson asks how much the banker bonus would be, and where the money would go, and what Miliband’s views are on the past – was Labour in any way responsible for the deficit? Ed replies saying that a broder industrial base should have been built, and that the financial sector should have been regulated further – but he says that understanding the impact of the global economic crisis is what will drive policy for the future.
10.16: Johnson says that a tax on banker bonuses should be extended for another year – but it isn’t a long-term colution.
10.14: Alan Johnson is up now and turns on the coalition over their failure to crack down on banker bonuses.
10.12: Ed Miliband’s key attack lines today are that Cameron wants to make it easier to sack workers and the importance of growth (and coalition failure on it).
10.11: Ed has attacked the government’s “8 wasted months”, when they didn’t help small businesses.
10.08: Miliband is hitting the Tories hard on growth – and welcomes the Tories to the agenda that Labour has been on for months. “If he really cares about growth he should revisit his entire economic strategy”, says Miliband.
10.05: Ed Miliband is going to focus heavily on the economy today – so much so he’s joined by shadow chancellor Alan Johnson – but will someone ask about Johnson’s National Insurance gaffe?
10.00: We’re at Ed Miliband’s monthly press conference this morning, and will be liveblogging it to bring you all of the action and reaction. Expect questions on youth unemployment, Oldham and potentially workers rights too.