Oh, Ed. He had so much to work with this morning. The government’s planned social care changes are already being criticised. The workfare scheme is, well, illegal. And it turns out all our cows are horses.
But clearly the Labour leader’s advisers this morning had seen one too many pun trotted out over the horsemeat scandal, or at least eaten a bit too much equine lasagne (Ed Balls’ new recipe?), and decided to avoid the food labelling scandal of the month.
Although his points about living standards sliding ever lower by 2015 (surely good news for Labour in an election year?) were perfectly valid, this line of questioning made him look po-faced and rather “out of touch” – his own phrase, not mine – with recent concerns himself.
David Cameron was able to fire his opponent down with his favourite war of attrition tactic: incessant lists and numbers. “People will be a lot better off than they were under Labour – the deficit is down, their income tax has been cut… 24 million taxpayers have seen a tax cut, the biggest tax cut has been for those hardworking people on minimum wage, who've seen their tax bills cut in half…”
And although Miliband had some arresting numbers of his own, namely that the prime minister had auctioned off a £100,000 portrait of himself, he ruined it a bit with his punchline.
“He [Cameron] then declared without a hint of irony that the Tories are no longer the party of privilege!” he cried gleefully, unaware he was implying what a privilege it would be to hang a pricey picture of the PM in his living room. It wouldn’t go with the dartboard, anyway. And that’s of a different David.
Cameron, before executing the Eton Giggle (ruddy cheeks contorted into a winning smile, dead behind the eyes, finger on the ‘Release the Hounds’ button) at a few horsemeat jokes – is the PM sure he’s not speaking “100% bull”, isn’t the coalition an example of “misleading labelling”, etc – managed to take a personal swipe that floored poor Miliband.
“I have an invitation here – Ed Miliband is going to make a major speech on the economy on Thursday. it won't have any new policies in it.”
At least there’s no false labelling there.