Ed Miliband’s attack on David Cameron’s stance over Europe rocked the PM from the off today. While Conservatives often adopt the line ‘I won’t be lectured by the Labour Party’ over Europe (and for the most part, this obviously chimes), there was definite hay to be made for the Labour leader given the enormity of issues being discussed at the EU summit and Cameron’s EU article (£).
The gulf between the Conservative backbench and the Coalition leaders has been plain to see and largely expected, but the use of Euroscpetic language in Miliband’s first set of questions provided stark contrast to Cameron’s continued attempts to wriggle on the EU subject. If Labour are pinning their hopes on painting Cameron as ‘out of touch’, they might have actually found something worthy of the sound bite when it comes to Europe.
Fraser Nelson tweeted that ‘Cameron looks stunned at new attack line. A Eurosceptic Labour would be lethal’. This points to what many, including Ed Balls, recognise – the electorate is becoming increasingly Eurosceptic, even before the current Euro crisis, and Labour will have a problem as long as it continues to occupy its post-loony left position as more pro-EU than the Tories.
The release of the ‘In the Black Labour’ publication, far from being another pointless contribution to the Labour rainbow of multi-coloured ideas, provided us with evidence that there are still those in the red corner with the sense to see the importance of a Britain in a strong economic position, run with a sense of fiscal discipline and ready to create business friendly conditions. It stresses the moral importance of this stance.
For many, these two issues will cut to the core of why they joined or voted Conservative – smaller government, significant cuts, red tape and regulation, repatriation of powers or Better Off Out – there is much to be depressed about for centre-right supporters since Coalition compromise became the name of the game. The truth is a Labour Party that accepted fiscal discipline, were proactive about tackling the deficit/debt issues and took a Eurosceptic stance would be electorally dominant – in hyperbolic terms, unstoppable. We are, after all, a conservative nation – but also one that likes to think we care.
I think it’s safe to say that with the two Eds at the top, this won’t be the direction the Labour Party takes. For all his good work in the first set of questions, Miliband returned to his weak economic attack in the second, and Cameron dealt comfortably with his poor questions. Quoting IFS statistics and thrusting graphs at the PM is not going to chime with anybody. For all today’s rhetoric, a Britain with Ed Miliband in charge wouldn’t just cave into every demand Merkozy makes this week – it would find the tax money to prop up the Euro (and save the world) and instruct the Labour-run Treasury to press ahead with more Euro implementation strategies. Ed Balls, and others, are continuously wed to the idea that when the Coalition’s plan of talking about cuts without actually providing them fails, Britain will turn back to the only other option it has, Labour’s disastrous spending ‘stimulus’.
For Labour, and for Britain, providing us with such a poor alternative may be just enough to keep the disillusioned Conservatives blue.