George Osborne wants to use today’s Autumn Statement to focus on the good figures and his government’s responsible approach to the economy. This, Tory strategists hope, will leave Labour with nowhere to go: Ed Balls has been a prophet of doom whose predictions now look as useful as those offered by a chap with a sandwich board offering the definite date for the end of the world, and voters are still suspicious of Labour’s instincts when it comes to spending.

Labour has obliged this morning by releasing the below poster, which shows its top dogs accept that for the time being the party has nowhere to go either, other than to complain about the cost of living by stealing a decades-old Tory campaign message:

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But there’s one caveat to this. Lynton Crosby has told the Tories that they don’t need to worry as much about energy bills and other Labour themes as the noise in Westminster suggests, and that to do so gives credence to Ed Miliband’s complaints. The only problem with this is that the advice seems to have come too late: Conservatives and Lib Dems alike have spent the autumn panicking about the ‘price con’ that the Labour leader unveiled in September. Labour may have nowhere else to go than the cost of living, but the corner the party has been backed into isn’t as uncomfortable as it could have been.

Tags: Autumn Statement 2013, Cost of living, Ed Miliband, George Osborne, Labour, UK politics