Buoyed by his success this week in forcing the Government on to the back foot over the bonus of RBS Chief Executive Stephen Hester, Ed Miliband chose to focus the majority of his questions at PMQs on the issue of “top pay.” The decision resulted in a clear victory for the Labour leader and highlighted the difficulties that the Prime Minister faces on the issue.
Being in opposition allows Miliband to take a somewhat opportunist stance, whilst the Government is forced to adopt a more cautious position in order to keep the City on side. Nevertheless, the Labour leader’s attack clearly had Cameron flustered and he was forced to trot out the same, increasingly tired sound bites blaming Labour for failing to properly regulate the financial sector.
The Labour leader even managed to hit the mark with a couple of one-liners this week (a rare feat indeed for the much maligned Miliband), and referring to the Tory “Cabinet of millionaires” caused hilarity amongst his backbenchers.
As the session went on, Cameron regained his usual withering demeanour, aided by the Conservative Whips’s success in loading the second half of the session with questions on tonight’s vote on a Benefits cap. With Miliband unable (and unwilling) to reply Cameron was able to portray Labour as a roadblock to reform on an issue where he enjoys overwhelming public support.
Tomorrow’s headlines are likely focus on tonight’s vote, yet there will be some optimism among Labour MPs that their Leader’s long-promised green shoots of recovery are starting to take hold.