ED Miliband insisted he was not abandoning his “cost of living crisis” message and is ready to contest the General Election over the economy today.
There was no mention of the phrase as the Labour leader spent more than an hour taking questions from students in Sheffield despite it having been a centrepiece of the party’s campaigning strategy for more than a year.
With headline inflation falling to 0.5 per cent, petrol pump prices falling to their lowest for five years and energy company E.ON announcing a cut in bills it has been suggested Mr Miliband will abandon his focus on the rising cost of living and instead concentrate Labour’s election campaign on the future of public services.
But Mr Miliband told The Yorkshire Post today he is ready to contest the election on the economy, insisting the “cost of living crisis” remains a “big issue”.
He said: “George Osborne and David Cameron want to say it’s all sorted out. It’s mission accomplished. That’s not what people think.
“It’s welcome that prices at the pump are falling but that doesn’t fix the problems in our economy and you are going to hear us talking about not just the cost of living crisis but the fact that people feel when it comes to security at work, when it comes to wages they are £1,600 pounds a year worse off.
“So if the Government wants to have an argument about whether they’ve fixed the economy I say bring it on, honestly, because I think most people feel yes it’s good that petrol prices have fallen but it doesn’t sort out the fundamental problems of this economy and the fundamental reasons why people are hard pressed and why there is a cost of living crisis.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is a Sheffield MP and polling by Lord Ashcroft has suggested that Labour candidate Oliver Coppard is within striking distance of taking the Lib Dem leader’s Sheffield Hallam seat despite his 15,000 vote majority in 2010.
Asked whether Labour has a “decapitation strategy” to target Mr Clegg, Mr Miliband said: “We want to win as many seats as possible, including Sheffield Hallam.
“As I’ve said a number of times I think Olly’s running a brilliant campaign. I wouldn’t describe the strategy in the way you describe it but I think its a strategy to have as many seats as possible for the Labour Party, you would expect me to say that.”