HOC

Picking Public Fights

David Cameron and Ed Miliband are picking high profile fights to define their leadership.

The PM and Labour leader made major speeches on “broken Britain” as they try to better define the men they are.

Mr Cameron is aiming at the teaching unions and police chiefs – but is keen to support teachers and police officers themselves.

The Labour leader launched a scathing attack on the Tories today which isn’t going down well with the political world who believe there should be a non-partisan approach to the problem.

But the Labour leader is planning a high profile punch-up with the unions around party conference season.

He has decided it will further define him as a tough politician who won’t be pushed around by his paymasters – especially when they are hell bent on making life miserable for millions of voters over the winter.

It’s a trick executed perfectly by Tony Blair in the mid 1990s which helped convince floating voters he was on the side of the people.

My hunch is he’s already fixed it with the unions to carry out this public battle – it’s in both their interests to stage manage a fight.

Union leaders will be able to demonstrate they are fighting for their members, which is always a recruitment driver for membership.

Mr Miliband has recently launched what can only be described as a four year journey back to credibility.

Some fear the Labour leader’s first year in the job might have been his last.

Vultures were circling in his party not so long ago.

But he threw caution to the wind at the height of the phone hacking scandal and found his political voice – and act which has shored up his leadership.

Mr Miliband is now determined to keep that momentum going and has embarked on a period of frantic activity to stay in the headlines for the right reasons.

But for the time being, he is trying to shake the “red” Ed title he earned at the beginning of his tenure – ironically because he only won the Labour crown thanks to the backing of the unions.

He will use the looting crisis to differentiate himself from the PM by saying Britain’s problems are caused by a lack of hope for the future thanks to a government determined to forget the poorest paid.

Meanwhile Mr Cameron is picking his own fight – this time with the police.

Political leaders have long tried to bring in radical change to the police without success. They remain a formidable organisation which hates change.

Many former Home Secretaries from both sides of the House bear the scars from trying to overhaul the police.

The Premier will use the unrest to fuel another fight – this time with Britain’s teaching unions.

You will see a big push on traditional education in the coming months – support for the “three rs” – and much more discipline in the classroom.

The PM and education secretary Michael Gove – whose star could not be higher – will say social problems must be tackled in the schoolroom if parents aren’t up to the job.

No one should take their eye off the economic ball.

George Osborne is almost certain to scrap the 50p top rate of income tax in the Budget 2012.

LibDems are already saying their price for sanctioning this will be a mansions tax on the wealthy.

An air war has broken out between Vince Cable’s team and the Chancellor’s supporters – using briefing and counter briefing to apply pressure.

The business secretary is also letting Mr Osborne know he will not accept a delay to the implementation of the banking shakeup, due in September.

The looting crisis has demonstrated the need for political leaders to use events as a way of defining their reputations.

Mr Cameron is now making it clear he understands a little less and condemns a little more.

Written By

George Pascoe-Watson