>Ed Miliband needs to offer more than a quiet Cameron impression

>Participant’s in Prime Minister’s questions are frequently, and rightly, criticised for their confrontational approach. This came to a horrible head today when Labour politician Chris Ruane chose to honour Claire Rayner’s memory with ghost noises. His green looking leader had earlier decided to take a more mature approach to proceedings and, having succeeded in not vomiting on the dispatch box, took centre stage. He was quiet, monotonic, boring, but not a complete disaster. 

Miliband took a mature and commendable approach to the failed attempt to rescue aid worker Linda Norgrove, rightly pointing out her death was the fault of those that captured her, not those that tried to save her. However, he looked lame on child benefit changes, becoming the first Labour leader to demand benefit payments for the well off. He then proceeded to lift a play right out of the Cameron book: ‘That’s 0 for 2 on straight answers, Mr Speaker’. It was a quiet, pale imitation of the now Prime Minister, who struck back with a far more devastating appraisal of the early part of Miliband’s leadership:  ‘It’s not red, it’s brown.’

Cameron though was by no means at his best today. He was rusty after the conference season break, and seemed to be lacking the bit of spark that has made him generally successful on a Wednesday lunchtime. Perhaps he and his team underestimated Ed Miliband too greatly. Miliband’s strategy is not though viable in the long term. He needs to define who he is, not proceed with a toned down impression of Cameron. Today the Leader of the Opposition went punch for punch with the PM, scoring points along the way. While Miliband can certainly feel happy with his PMQs debut, he may though have only succeeded in waking up Cameron for round two. 


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