Ed Miliband will respond to the Budget today (the Shadow Chancellor responds to the Autumn Statement, and has a Budget speech the day after the main event). In the past couple of years the Labour response hasn’t been fantastic, partly because the Tories have got a very well-organised (and at times just rather brutish and silly) heckling squad ready to create a wall of noise, and partly because it is difficult to respond to a Budget that contains good figures.
But Labour thinks the Autumn Statement gave it the opportunity to attack the Tories on something other than the cost-of-living. The party can now say that George Osborne is planning ‘extreme’ cuts that will take Britain back to the 1930s and that this will damage the NHS, which voters hold dear. Ed Miliband could have a good go with this, but he also needs to offer the sense that Labour has an alternative plan that voters can trust. Currently the polls show that they don’t: the Tories lead Labour 39 points to 22 on which party voters think would best handle the economy in general. Otherwise voters might not bother to turn out for Labour. Having heard the criticism and agreed with it, they might take their vote to another party, such as the Greens or Ukip. Or they might stay at home.
Politicians should leave the wealthy alone– they already contribute more than their fair share
Join us on 22 April for a Spectator debate on wealth and politics. Are wealth taxes the answer? Or is it wrong to squeeze the rich? Chaired by Andrew Neil. For the motion: Toby Young and William Cash. Against the motion: Owen Jones. Remaining speakers to be announced. For tickets and further information click here.