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Liam Byrne tries to turn David Cameron’s striver language back on him

25 November 2012

3:01 PM

25 November 2012

3:01 PM

The Leveson Inquiry will dominate this week. Inside Number 10 they regard it as ‘the most difficult’ of the three big issues dominating their time at the moment – the other two are the autumn statement and the EU Budget.

But I suspect that voters will be far less interested in Leveson and the Prime Minister’s response to it than the media and political class are. I’d be surprised if Cameron’s handling of it changed the views of voters—as opposed to those of elites— of him.

So, on The Sunday Politics today it was striking to see Liam Byrne, Labour’s welfare spokesman, trying to turn Cameron’s striver rhetoric back on him. In an interview with Andrew Neil, Byrne complained that the government is ‘short changing the strivers’ and ‘taking out on Britain’s strivers’. The basis for this claim is that the government has cut tax credits; it would–of course—point out that it has also cut income tax for all basic rate taxpayers through raising the personal allowance. But Byrne’s language, with his talk about how ‘the people who are being made to pay for [the rise in people out of work] are people in work’ who are having their tax credits cut is a bracing piece of political position.

Byrne is not an influential a figure as he once was: he has lost control of Labour’s policy review. But it’ll be interesting to see if this striver jiu-jitsu becomes a feature of Labour attacks on Cameron.

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