Thursday News Review


MPs ask each other: “How’s Ed Miliband doing?” “Better than we expected,” says a worldly Tory. “So far I’ve not heard a single moan about him, though there is no Blair-like adoration either,” admits one Labour ex-minister. “He’s not doing spectacularly, but he’s certainly holding his own,” reports a nationalist. It could have been a bad moment for the new Labour leader. One month into the job, he faced his third session of PMQs with an advisory memo from party HQ (“mocking humour is particularly useful here“) leaked to the Times to embarrass him. Up to that point Miliband hadn’t actually read it properly, but privately told colleagues later that it was rather good. He duly held his own again against David Cameron, focusing on one policy theme (housing benefit cuts) and showing sufficient brevity and spontaneity – real or contrived – to persuade sceptical Labour colleagues they picked the right brother after all. Most think Miliband has won two out of three PMQs so far – not last week’s on the economy. Polished performer though he is, Cameron has sounded a bit rattled. Miliband’s voice still lacks weight. – The Guardian

Ed Miliband decided to preach to the converted at Prime Minister’s Questions today. He asked about housing benefit. And he won the debating-society points. He had better jokes, an old line about why he asks the questions (“the clue’s in the title”) and won on the substance. David Cameron replied to repeated questions about whether it was right to cut housing benefit by 10 per cent for people who have been out of work for a year by saying that it was fair to limit housing benefit claims to £20,000 a year. – The Independent

But during his third attempt to beat David Cameron at Prime Minister’s questions, Mr Miliband already conveyed a sense of being the underdog: the player who disappoints his fans by so seldom managing to press home any momentary advantage which he may gain over the reigning champion. Mr Cameron quoted, with characteristic unkindness, from the leaked three-page memorandum in which Mr Miliband’s coaches told their man how to take a major title: “It’s important to have a cheer line that goes down well in the chamber and can be clipped easily by the broadcasters.” Mr Miliband followed his trainers’ advice about trying to make Mr Cameron look “evasive”, and posed a series of tricky questions about housing benefit. The trouble was that Mr Cameron refused to look evasive, instead declaring: “We’re sticking to our plans.” The Prime Minister then hit the ball very hard back at Mr Miliband, asking him whether it was fair for their constituents to work hard “to give benefits so people can live in homes” costing £30,000, £40,000, £50,000 a year, of which those constituents “couldn’t even dream”. – The Telegraph

Housing benefit cuts

Ed Miliband today issues a heartfelt appeal for Liberal Democrat MPs to “vote with their consciences” and stop savage housing benefit cuts. The ConDems’ proposals could lead to 200,000 people losing their homes and the Labour leader told the Daily Mirror he plans to force a dramatic Commons vote on the issue. He said that would be the time for Liberal Democrats to decide which side of this bitter row they are on. The Government had hoped to force through the 10% housing benefit cut for the jobless without a vote. They are also planning to cap the benefit for many families and reduce it for the under-35s. Lib Dem MPs and Tory councils have warned that the draconian move could hit the elderly, kids and the sick by forcing them out of their homes. – The Mirror

SOUTHEND could see a return to the dark days of bedsit city as a cap on housing benefit looks set to force thousands of low-income Londoners out of the capital and into the town. Announced as part of the coalition Government’s cost-saving measures, the cap would mean poorer people could be priced out of privately-rented property in many areas, with up to 200,000 potentially at risk of having to leave London for cheaper towns. With cheaper accommodation available in Southend in the form of bed-and-breakfasts and bedsits, the town could end up taking thousands of families left unable to afford their current homes. – Southend Echo

The Coalition will limit housing benefit to £400 a week for a four-bedroom home and cut payouts by 10 per cent when people have been on Jobseeker’s Allowance for more than a year. The Labour leader claimed that Mr Cameron had “dug himself in” over the 10 per cent cut and asked what advice he would give a family facing “such a large drop in their income”. But despite suggestions that Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, would be willing to listen to concerns from Tory MPs, Mr Cameron offered no glimmer of hope that the policy would be re-examined. The Conservatives are privately delighted that Mr Miliband has chosen to fight on the housing issue, believing he has misjudged voters who are angry at the way the system works. – The Telegraph

One Response to “Thursday News Review”

  1. Rob says:

    Except of course people like myself who are looking to see whom within Parliament will stand up for us, being disabled and out of work due to disability right now I have to be honest and say I’d not bother voting for any of the three main parties. I can assure Tories and labour that I’m not laughing or joking or trying to gain the upper hand, all I’m trying to do is live the rest of my life without the worry of paying my rent or in fact heating the home.

    But I suspect when PMQ’s are over it’s all laughter in Parliament with tea and biscuits

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