Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How oppositions should respond to good news

Last week, David Cameron shouted about Ed Miliband’s alleged desire for bad news:

It is only a bad week if you think it is bad that unemployment is coming down. We think it is good. ... Every bit of good news sends that team into a complete decline, but I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that the good news will keep coming.

This is the same David Cameron who, as an opposition MP, once wrote about his own “opposition disease”, in which “part of you actually starts wanting things to get worse. …an enthusiastic Tory backbencher like me can hardly wait to switch on the Today programme every morning in order to listen to all the bad news.” So he knows what he’s talking about.

But it’s tricky. When there is good economic news, how should an opposition party handle it? You don’t want to seem an unpatriotic doom-monger, but you don’t want to gush praise for the government, either.

At PMQs tomorrow, Miliband should take this head-on. He should raise the good GDP number that Cameron was hinting about last week and say something like this:

Will the Prime Minister join me in congratulating the British people for having finally pulled the economy out of recession? Is this not a great achievement for British businesses and British workers – especially in light of government policies that even the IMF now says are more damaging than expected?

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