The seasonal interlude has ended and Ed Miliband is sallying north to Oldham East. He will resuscitate old favourites from 2010: progressive cuts, fairness and a government bent of an ideological mission: but he will illustrate his point with reference to tomorrow’s VAT rise. Miliband will say:
‘Today we start to see the Tory-led agenda move from Downing Street to your street. At midnight VAT goes up, hitting people’s living standards, small businesses and jobs. The VAT rise is the most visible example of what we mean when we say the government is going too far and too fast, because it’s clear that it will slow growth and hit jobs.’
And he will add that the ordinary voter’s wallet will be £389 lighter by the end of the year, courtesy of the rise. His figures are drawn from Liberal Democrat general election posters, a fact that feeds his broken promises mantra.
It’s sharp politics to attack the government over falling living standards, where a broad consensus now believes its economic policy to be weakest. This morning, both the British Retail Consortium and Family Action charity have echoed the sirens from conservative Middle England about the dangers of inflation.
The government’s response has been tepid. Speaking to Today, Grant Shapps said he hoped that house prices would stabilise in the long term. That is fine, but much more is needed to arrest burgeoning and shifting economic fears. The fundamental economic debate is cast until 2015, but its dynamic is changing. Arguing that Miliband offers no alternative deficit reduction plan will soon be insufficient.Tags: By-election, Coalition, Cuts battle, Economy, Ed Miliband, Grant Shapps, Inflation, Liberal Democrats, UK politics, Vat