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Ed Miliband's back from holiday - which explains his welfare flip-flops

By Mark Wallace
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Flip Flop MilibandRemember Ed Miliband's "laser-like focus on welfare spending"? Or Ed Balls' sudden conversion to "iron discipline" on the budget?

How about Miliband's repeated insistence that his party wouldn't commit to reversing any cut in spending unless it was "fully funded".

I do, if only slightly, but it appears the Labour leader has completely forgotten them during the course of the summer holidays. In the heat, he's taken off his welfare cap and donned flip-flops instead.

The New Statesman reports that Miliband will pledge to reverse the so-called "bedroom tax" in the approach to the 2015 election - scrapping a welfare reform that saves over £450m a year. Apparently, this is an element of One Nation Labour - a nation united under debt.

By my count, this is Labour's third position on welfare policy - first they were going to lead a national uprising against the idea of living within our national means. Then they were pushing their own, severely flawed, welfare cap. Now they're trying to win votes by offering expensive giveaways.

It's a sign of desperation. The Opposition have long struggled on welfare - their lefty instincts tell them to fight the reforms, their union paymasters insist that they must but the polling shows people support what IDS is doing.

Now they've abandoned any semblance of strategy - this news comes mere weeks after Miliband was comparing himself to Clement Attlee and boasting of his capacity to make tough decisions in order to fix the national finances (in a speech unwisely titled "The discipline to make a difference").

Looking weak is bad enough, but looking weak by abandoning a promise to be strong is just embarrassing.