30 Mar 2015

Ed Miliband courts business, David Cameron gets personal

I had a flashback at Labour’s business manifesto launch at  the Bloomberg HQ in London. Not to the Cameron Europe speech announcing the referendum plan, but to the 2005 general election Labour business manifesto launch.

Back then Labour had kicked off the day with a letter to the FT signed by 63 business supporters, many of them pretty big names with pretty big firms​.

The Labour party kicked off today with an ad in the FT quoting senior business people who are hostile to EU exit. The business folk appear to have been informed pretty late in the day and weren’t thrilled to see their names above a “Vote Labour” tag. Juergen Maier, chief executive of Siemens, sitting near the back at the press launch, was doing his best to be diplomatic but clearly not pleased to be amongst those named.


David Cameron on the doorstep of No. 10, after returning from the palace, name-checked Ed Miliband three times. There was a time not so long ago when Tories talked of leaving the personal attacks to others. Not any more.

There was an apocalyptic mood to David Cameron’s words. Britain had been on the edge of extinction (“on the brink” was his phrase) until he had rescued it. The warnings on “safety” and “chaos” would’ve worked very well against images of violent street scenes, but when I checked it looked like a fairly quiet Monday in the Easter holidays outside.

The IFS sounded unimpressed by the two main parties’ candour on day one of the election. Paul Johnson gave them “pretty low scores”, whether it was the Tories’ claim that Labour would tax you £3,000 more or Labour’s ducking and diving on whether they would cut spending at all in overall terms, and just how high they’d be willing to see the deficit rise.

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