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The Cost of Living – Mark speaks to BBC R4’s World at One

November 6, 2013

Yesterday Mark was invited onto BBC R4’s World at One programme to discuss Ed Miliband’s focus on the cost of living and the political implications for the Conservatives. Listen to his interview http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03g9wxv or see below for his notes:

Ed Miliband has clearly struck a chord. In truth, the coalition is still playing catch up, but has for some months now had a good story to tell in some areas on the ‘cost of living’ issue. [Fuel price escalator stopped; freezing automatic increases; filling up one’s car is actually about almost £10 cheaper today than three years ago]

It is clear that over the past nine months and in foreseeable future (next six months) we can anticipate strong economic growth. But this good news story may not work through so fast. That plays to the Labour line that this is a ‘recovery for the rich’ that is ‘limited to the South East of England’.

The Conservatives’ immediate instinct is to

a) accuse Ed Miliband of unworkable plans;

b) accuse Ed Miliband of a lurch to the left,

but then when his words get traction

c) fight back with ideas of our own.

But Labour’s simple, simplistic solutions allow for instant gratification whilst a proper, considered analysis, appointing a commission etc, plays to the line that we are a government unable to be nimble. His ideas have the Farage factor – populist, standing up for the little man in the face of big government.

The government is getting better at anticipating the next line of attack – see Jeremy Hunt’s moves on executive pay in the NHS.