PMQs: Ed Miliband finally grows out of Pampers

Ed Miliband made a reasonably good start at Prime Minister’s questions today. However, ultimately he failed to score a substantive point against David Cameron. Indeed, Ed Miliband painted himself into a corner. He is now basically defending the retention of child benefit for the top 15% earners in the country. Since Osborne’s breakfast announcement of the child benefit changes, up until now, Labour have avoided this stance.

Miliband started his questioning today focusing on the unfairness for families with one earner over £43K losing child benefit against families with two earners of £40K keeping their child benefit. However, he lost this focus later on in his questions and made the broader point outlined above. This may be a good short term political maneuver but it doesn’t stack up. Cameron made this point in his closing answer ending with the flourish: “It is not red, it’s brown”.

Labour defending the top 15% earners? It doesn’t make sense and, indeed, Miliband had to resort to expressing salaries after tax to bolster his point – which is somewhat unorthodox and, one might say, desperate.

It was good, though, to finally have a permanent Labour leader asking questions. Since Cameron became PM, we’ve had Hattie’s pet issues and Straw’s suicide anorak detonations (mercifully sparing all but the suicidist). Ed Miliband did look confident and made a few witty retorts. (By the way, on the Commons cameras you can see his familial badger white hair streak – which I haven’t noticed before).

But basically Ed Miliband is a relative lightweight, which is perhaps why Cameron, with light sarcasm, expressed the wish that he will be Labour leader for a long time.

I ought to declare an interest – indeed, make a confession – at this point. In the past I have not been able to see Ed Miliband without being overcome with an unusual private urge. I have seen the podgy face, the doe eyes and the trembling bottom lip (perhaps I imagined that last one) and I have been overwhelmed with the paternal instinct to land him face down on a plastic mat, sprinkle on the talcum powder  and apply a fresh pair of Super-absorbent Junior Trainer Pampers.

Perhaps what one could comfortably say about Ed Miliband’s debut today is that he has, at least, finally got beyond the Pampers stage.

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  • AMusing that a fellow Lib Dem would denigrate Ed for supporting universal child benefit, when that was their stance prior to the election.

    And, btw, it appears that Cameron and you, especially yourself, are the true lightweights in this discussion, since you can’t make a substansive point against Ed without including a personal attack.

  • One of a growing number of pointless articles on LDV. No substance. Was it about Miliband or Child Benefits? Tribal and not helpful.

  • TheContinentalOp 14th Oct '10 - 12:03am

    What a silly headline.

  • This article is a tad disappointing because generally I’ve found this site to be the best independent site around, head and shoulders above labour list and Conservative home.

  • In addition to the points made by the above commenters (which are all valid), if you’re going to write an article like this, you should at least make sure you get your facts right. You claim that “Since Osborne’s breakfast announcement of the child benefit changes, up until now, Labour have avoided this stance.”

    In fact, Ed Miliband defended the principle that Child Benefit should be universal in his interview with Jon Sopel on Sunday ( regional editions are also available ) and he has probably made the same point elsewhere, I’m just not going to bother looking for it right now.

  • is this an example of no more yaboo politics.

  • TheContinentalOp 14th Oct '10 - 8:10am

    He was OK. Not bad. Nothing more. When the level of debate resorts to “He looked liked he wet himself” you know he must have done something right.

    Indeed I think the citizens in my former home of Wakefield will be laughing heartily at a certain individual’s claim about a lack of charisma!

  • vince thurnell 14th Oct '10 - 8:25am

    With all due respect, i think your time would be better spent looking at what your own leader is doing rather than the Leader of the Labour party.

  • Richard Hill 14th Oct '10 - 8:45am

    The main problem I see with Red Ed is that a lot of people love the under dog. If you look like a puppy that can be kicked at will people feel sorry for you. And what a twist , Labour supporting the richest element in society. Some people will do anything for votes. Some people change their policies due to circumstances others are just two faced.

  • Personally I would have hoped that because PMQ’s and possible the “parliament channel” would probably getting more attention from the public due to recent events. MP’s and the Prime Minister would behave in a more adult manor instead of the bunch of drunken half witts that they portray by jeering at each other across the house.

    Prime Minister Questions is supposed to be exactly that.
    30 Minutes spent every week in Parliament that the Opposition and other Mp’s get TO ASK THE PRIME MINISTER QUESTIONS
    (which he should then in turn answer truthfully)

    And what do we actually get?

    The Prime Minister answering the Question with a Question for the opposition instead, followed by his ministers and back bencher’s jeering.

    PMQ’s are for the the Prime Minister to be judged on (not opposition)

    The public have had enough of this debacle.

    We want to hear clear, Decisive answers in Parliment. Not trading Senseless insults!

    And you Liberal Democrats should know better and are quickly painting yourself blue!

  • TheContinentalOp 14th Oct '10 - 10:04am


    “Why do I suspect you’ve never met me?”

    I lived in the St Johns Mount/Bradford Road area a few years back. Pretty sure it was you I was canvassed by. Although I could be wrong.

  • Ed made Dave look like the new one ,Cameron has not had one really good pmq,s since he got the job ,All he does is blame the last lot and answer with a question .If anyone can show me different please do.As for Lib Dems at pmqs waiting on a Lib Dem to speak out about a big issue I.E The economy ,student fees ,the bankers that Nick was going to sort right out ,total crap as the bank levy dosn,t come till next year and who do you think will pay the 3 billion the customer , the lib dem spoke about scientists funding at pmqs what a joke

    Just seen the big announcement on QUANGOS
    news man asks Torie “how much money will this save and how many job losses ”
    Mr Torie says “Eh i dont know we will have to wait ”
    How can Nick make any pledges at next election ,he will get lambasted by the public for this,total joke

  • TheContinentalOp 14th Oct '10 - 11:55am

    Not research Andrew, just memory. Was working at big house off Love Lane at the time. Definitely spoke to Lib Dem canvasers as I walked home from work one evening and you were definitely my local candidate. My loathing of New Labour was at an all time high and told Lib Dem canvasers they had my vote.

  • Yeah Ed you pudgy wimp where are your cuts going to fall
    eh who are you going to stick it to.Yaa booo you were in nappies last week you havn’t got a big brother party leading you by the nose.
    This seems to be the gist of your article and snotty replies to criticsm here Paul how about adressing the way the Torys are using the crisis to dismantle the post war settlement of what responcibility the state has to its citizens.
    With the craven support of your party of course.Unless it involves those smart lucvky or privilaged enough to have a chance of a univercity place you are content to be as callous snide and hard faced as your new bosses.
    Frequently I find the articles here smug deluded or simply silly(the thing) however yours is simply contemptable.

  • TheContinentalOp 14th Oct '10 - 1:50pm

    There was a four or five of them. Youthful would be the best description. Stood at the car park next to the station. All looked very official to me.

    Astounded you personally couldn’t have made more of a personal effort. Your lack of commitment – enforced or not – was not fair on your party or the voters. Labour and the Tories – and the BNP – were out in the evening & weekends so I’m not sure why you couldn’t make an effort. As it was you very nearly allowed the Lib Dems to be relegated into fourth spot by the BNP – well done.

    BTW where I live now is hardly a Lib Dem ‘target’ area but it didn’t stop canvasers visiting twice at the last local elections.

  • TheContinentalOp 14th Oct '10 - 1:58pm

    BTW when I say station I mean Westgate and not the muggers paradise that was Kirkgate.

  • Any chance of Andrew and Continental continuing their private row elsewhere?.

  • Paul Walter
    actually sorry about the tone of my previous post try this.
    Ooooh look you are bald and have a beard and glasses.
    There you probably think I’m witty as you now.

  • Paul Walter Paul walter 14th Oct '10 - 2:12pm

    @R patey: this was a post which focussed on the PM/Miliband exchange. They didn’t debate university funding. These PMQ write-ups are light sketches, as you will see from this and previous ones. I repeat: if Labour won’t cut child benefit for the top 15% earners then what on earth would they cut?

  • Sorry thought the post was about Ed,s pmq performance and his funny apperance silly me.
    Labour would have to cut of course but I doubt they would do so with the swivel eyed zeal at undermining egalitarian institutions and ways of delivery like the Torys.Nor I think would the Lib Dems if you ever had a chance of forming a government without help.
    As for university funding the point I was making was this seems to be the only thing you lot get angry about well that and people with grey streaks in their hair.

  • Paul Walter Paul walter 14th Oct '10 - 3:08pm

    @rpatey so what would they cut without swivel-eyed zeal then?

  • Oh I’ve no idea of the details however I would hope they would stand by the approach of slower reduction and investment in growth.However as I see little change in their Torys in the away strip so far I wouldnt bet on it..Even then I cant see them attacking the NHS, job creation schemes and help for the poorest like you lot.At least they payd lip service to stopping people losing their jobs and homes during their last months in office as did your manifesto.
    Heres where I come from my job is under threat due to government policy. My average acheving(therefore unimportant) teenage son is dispondent about job and training opportunities due to government policy.My autistic younger son’s support services are under threat from a council pre empting Osbournes slash and burn with relish.
    Labour certainly didn’t deserve victory but the country dosent deserve the Torys propped up by you.
    When you need peoples votes and decide to talk to non blogging real people you may start to get peoples anger and desgust in the meantime I’ll send you a picture of myself I’ve got some grey hair you can laugh at.

  • Paul Walter Paul walter 14th Oct '10 - 4:01pm

    @rpatey I sympathise with your plight. But what has that got to do with child benefit for higher band tax payers? Are you in the higher tax band? If not, are you in favour of you subsidising people like me, who are on the high tax band and receive child benefit?

  • Blimey where to start ok you simpathise with my plight well hoopy doo your choice of words there says it all.
    What does my post have to do with CB errr I was replying to your question about cuts doo keep up.
    Now the biggie do I mind subsedising your children no.You subsidise mine so Im happy to subsidise yours as long the taxation is progressive.Heres why universal benifits keep a sense of inclusion in the state perhaps keeping the wealthy in touch with the concept of state aid.In our age of private medecine in the NHS gated communites and independent education for nice people I think the principle is well worth holding on to.The concept of state aid based either on need or a civilised concern for the social good rather than alms for the patronised poor are now under attack more than ever.Ironiclly from the party of Lloyd George.

  • Gosh I really do seem to have touched a nerve dont I sorry for any distress I may have caused in my anger and dissapointment at your party.A word of advice though keep clear of canvessing come May some people are less forgiving even than me.
    Id seriousley delete your number from here too I have no intention of ringing you in case anyone dose it aint me.
    Take care.

  • If anyone expecting Ed Miliband in his first PMQ to be an attack dog then they would be pretty disappointed, no fireworks, no killer blow, pretty tame stuff really. he came across as a reasonable sort of chap, the sort of guy who you could imagine giving a few spare hours to help out at the local community centre, he’s not too polished (Blair) nor is he shabby (Brown) but somewhere in the middle, almost nondescript and in a time when the electorate will be enduring 20 to 25% cuts in services, little or no job security and seeing much loved institutions such as the NHS under going radical reform they will see Ed as ‘safe’ just like a the teddy bear they had as a child to help keep the monsters away, the monsters in this case being Cameron, Osborne, and Clegg, and that’s where the real danger lies.

    (and Paul if that really is your Tel number it’ll be a good idea to remove it)

  • Ed Miliband told his conference that the invasion of Iraq was wrong and that the assertion that boom and bust had ended was a mistake. The public will see that he tells the truth and people like Cameron and Clegg lie. “I believe it’s time for promises to be kept. Now who said that? Clegg. All those Lib Dems who signed the pledge on tuition fees should remember that when they attack Ed. Because you have entered into your squalid coalition there is now only one place for the electorate to go when they want someone to represent them who has integrity. Your pampas jibe shows just how desperate you are.

  • @Paul

    “The jeering and non-answering of questions tends to be restricted to the PM v leader of Opp question”

    So you accept then that it is Prime Minister Questions, and he is SUPPOSED to answer questions that are put before him. Not deflect the Answer with a Question to the Opposition.

    Therefore shouldn’t this Blog been about when is CAMERON going to grow up and start giving politics the TRANSPARENT politics that it promised.

    And beings that Liberal Democrats are now part of this coalition Government, should they not be encouraging this rather than these senseless Bloggs and futile attacks on the opposition and in particular Ed Milliband at PMQ?

    I thought Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats where offering the Public a different kind of politics, But all I have seen so far is Liberal Democrats jump into bed with the Tories and change their sheets to BLUE!

  • @Paul
    Thank you for your advice on how to type, though I chose to Ignore it, How I chose to express myself on here is my own right as long as it is not abusive and breaks any forum rules and I do not appreciate being called desperate thank you.

    With regards to your comment
    “But I share your sadness at the ya-boo nature of some parts of the PM v Leader of opp exchanges. In one sense it is tedious. In another sense it is at least interesting and exciting”

    I have to disagree with you.

    As a disheartened voter I am looking to all means that are at my disposal to inform myself of what is truly going on in politics at the moment. We can no longer trust in the manifesto pledges that where proposed to us at the start of the election campaign as both Tories and Lib Dems have been breaking their manifesto’s left right and centre and abandoning their pledges.

    I don’t totally trust in the media to report the facts as most of the media is biased.

    The only option left to me is to watch PMQ live on the Parliament channel (Sad I know)

    So as a member of the public and a potential voter, I expect at the Prime Minister Question,s for the Prime Minister and the coalition government as a whole, to answer clearly, decisively and honestly all Questions that are put to him.

    I do not find it in the least bit “interesting and exciting” to watch the PM answer a question with a question, and for the coalition government to jeer and behave like a load of half witts.

    The general public need to be able to make an informed choice on who they chose to vote at the next election. And you can bet your last £ there are people like me, who in the pas,t never paid any attention to the parliament channel or Prime Minister Questions. But Guess what! We are watching now, and what we are seeing is not going to bode well for the Tories, or for the Liberal Democrats who have chosen to abandon their core beliefs and behaving like a bunch of smurfs.

  • …And I am sure you are intelligent enough to see that the disingenuity in avoiding questions is relatively universal in the Commons. For example, Labour are yet to tell us a single thing they would cut.

    But, getting back to the main point, a Tory only government would not be cutting child benefit for high earners. So at least the LibDems have been able to bring some influence to bear on that and, as another example, today’s announcement of a large investment in the education of children from poorer backgrounds.

  • Rather silly article – nasty personality politics that devalue the whole process. There may not have been a knockout blow, but he was very forensic in his approach, nor did he resort to yelling or nonsense. This is how a new politics should be done. I don’t think Labour have avoided anything re. child benefit either – Miliband was completely right; the announcement and policy is a shambles. Labour didn’t need to do anything – the government made themselves look stupid all by themselves.

  • “a Tory only government would not be cutting child benefit for high earners. So at least the LibDems have been able to bring some influence to bear on that”

    So in other words, breaking the principle of universality was inspired by the Liberal Democrats even though the party on 21st Sept voted to Safeguard universal child benefit?

  • whether you agree with universal benefits of not, you cannot dismiss the vote that took place or the apparent disregard of that vote by the leadership, that doesn’t sound much like democracy to me, maybe I should of expanded on that post to make myself clearer as that was the point I was trying to make, not the pro’s and con’s of universal benefits for the well off, that’s an argument for another time.

    btw I saw the humour in your article even if other’s didn’t 😉

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