PMQs: Ed Miliband is striding onto centre ground

Meanwhile, though, the Labour leader is doing his best to downplay the heroic role of payday crusader Stella Creasy

Share
Related Topics

“It’s not a minor policy adjustment, it’s the intellectual collapse of their position.” This was Ed Miliband’s large claim at Prime Minister’s Questions. The Government’s decision to cap the cost of payday loans was not just a U-turn, said Miliband, it was - I paraphrase, drawing on some of his recent interviews - the equivalent of Margaret Thatcher shifting the postwar consensus. Today, Miliband shifted it back. Or forwards. To a place where “exorbitant prices” produce “exorbitant profits” unless the government steps in to control them.

David Cameron fell straight into the Labour leader’s intellectual trap, pointing out that for 13 years Labour did “absolutely nothing about” payday lending. Quite an emphatic rebuttal, to a normal person. But the Prime Minister does not realise the scale of the intellectual collapse that was happening around him. Miliband is striding onto a new centre ground, which lies further to the left than old people such as Cameron and me think. The last Labour government, in which Miliband was such an unhappy and unwilling prisoner - he nearly resigned over the third runway, you know - was part of the Thatcher-Blair consensus of which Cameron is a part.

Actually, the Prime Minister had an answer to that, too, although it was probably accidental. He pointed out that Miliband had not asked a question about payday lending for the past three years, while he has been Prime Minister and Miliband has been liberated from the Blair-Brown correctional facility.

The only person asking questions about payday lending, Cameron was too polite to mention, had been Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow conspicuously unpromoted by Miliband in last month’s reshuffle. Her campaign against what she calls “legal loan sharks” has been so successful that she is almost as well known as the Labour leader and often speculated about as a possible successor of his.

Miliband didn’t want to give Creasy the credit for the Government’s intellectual collapse either. He put it down to an imminent vote in the House of Lords, which the coalition was likely to lose.

Still, it was mildly interesting to hear the Prime Minister say: “It is right to intervene when markets aren’t working and people are being hurt.” And mildly depressing to hear George Mudie, a Labour MP, say that the energy companies make a 77 per cent profit, and to know that profit is such a dirty word that the Prime Minister didn’t even dare point out that this was an absurd exaggeration.

Fair to say my colleagues in the press gallery were deeply unimpressed by today’s celebration of democracy in its highest and most accountable form. No story there, they muttered. No story? The collapse of the Blairo-Thatcher consensus? In front of their very eyes? What bigger story is there?

Fortunately, Stewart Wood, Miliband’s intellectual custodian-general, had the answer. Lord Wood tweeted: “The MP for Rugby asked a question about rugby. Looking forward to future questions from MPs for Bath, Barking, Mole Valley, Redcar and Tooting.”

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Letters: No vote poses difficult questions – so why rush?

Independent Voices
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments