What is the public supposed to make of contradictory newspaper headlines? While yesterday morning’s Mirror ran with “Ed: we will give EU an in-out vote”, i, The Independent, the Financial Times and The Daily Telegraph led with the opposite.
The apparent conflict is not the result of a botched media briefing, but intentional. Ed Miliband wants to reassure business that any Labour government will not gamble with Britain’s place in Europe, while he comforts the electorate that no further powers would be ceded to Brussels without a referendum.
This nuance delighted David Cameron, who skipped down the plane yesterday to greet political journalists flying out to Israel with him. For the Prime Minister, this is a critical opening, his clear message to the public: we are the only party who will promise you an In-Out vote on whether Britain should quit Europe. Mr Miliband will have to play his cards on the NHS and the cost of living with panache.
Mr Cameron probably deserved a break of luck on a foreign trip, since he has previously suffered misfortune on the road, finding himself abroad when crisis struck at home. Caught in Rwanda in 2007 while his Oxfordshire constituency flooded, he paced his hotel suite, furtively chain-smoking, while the press pack was held back downstairs.
Where does i stand on the EU? Well, we will offer you a choice. Our stance is that i readers can make up their own minds, and that our role is to provide you with balanced news coverage and informed opinion from our stable of columnists.
Overheard yesterday in the queue for lunch at the House of Commons café: Ed Miliband talking about the circulation and readers of i. You must be doing something right.