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Ed Miliband plays class war card, accusing Cameron of only looking after the top 1%

By Tim Montgomerie
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Sat in the first class carriage of a train Ed Miliband has given an interview to The Independent newspaper in which he launches a very personal attack on David Cameron. Here are the Labour leader's words:

"David Cameron really is doing a terrific job of looking after the vested interests, the privileged, the powerful and the wealthiest one per cent. It's the other 99 per cent who feel desperately let down. David Cameron doesn't get it. It is not in his DNA. It is not what drives him in his politics. Working for a more responsible, fairer capitalism is not what gets him up in the morning. Even he would be hard pressed to claim it was his raison d'etre."

This is a deeply unfair thing to say. Whether its relinking the basic state pension to earnings, exempting the low-paid in the public sector from a wage freeze, lifting the income tax threshold or capping council tax there are very many things that this Coalition government has done to help not the 99% but the bottom 20%.

The Coalition could do a lot more if it wasn't paying £50 billion in annual interest payments on the debts that Labour left behind. Only a fraction of Britain's debts are the fault of the banks. Most of Britain's debts are the responsibility of a Labour government that carried on borrowing during the boom years. Perhaps because Mr Brown thought he had abolished boom and bust.

David Cameron is acutely aware that he cannot look like he is the defender of an unreformed capitalist system. Saturday's Times (£) gave a preview of what the Prime Minister intends to do and say to shift capitalism from a crony to a creative model:

  • "Helping smaller and micro-businesses, rather than larger institutions that Whitehall and the CBI are inclined to concentrate on. Mr Cameron is likely to remind voters of the moratorium of regulation on businesses with ten or fewer employees.
  • Greater transparency in the boardroom and championing reforms to ensure that rewards for senior business figures are proportionate to risk, even if this means that some business figures get more money. This will include encouraging more diverse boards, and considering workers on boards, an idea championed by Ed Miliband in his conference speech this year.
  • More work to tackle asset inequality, which senior figures admit “is trickier”. There is more to inequality than income distribution, senior Tories insist, with further government help to encourage home ownership and company startups suggested."

PS The Independent seemed to forget which Miliband became Labour leader. In its main editorial it described its interviewee as "David". Oops.

12.30pm: Labour policies do little to help tackle unfairness, but a lot to exacerbate it, says Anthony Browne