Labour should improve the child benefit cuts, not oppose them
This time next week, Ed Miliband will make his debut as Leader of the Opposition at Prime Minister's Questions.
I wonder if the child benefit fiasco presents an opportunity.
Over the next week, Labour's team could do a quick piece of policy work refining the government's proposals to protect the people who are hit hardest by Osborne's proposals and remove the anomalies where some families on £80,000 will get the benefits and others on £45,000 won't.
Then at PMQs, Ed could ask Cameron whether he would agree to alter his policies to protect middle earners by accepting Labour's improvements. If Cameron refuses, he looks like he is putting party politics ahead of sensible policies and doing what's right for middle income families. If he accepts, it makes it much harder to claim that Labour is just opposing every cut and won't set out alternatives.
I think this is a better option politically than pledging to reverse these cuts and flying the flag for universalism. Come 2015 or whenever the next election is, Labour isn't going to go into the election pledging to spend £1 billion on giving cash handouts to the richest 15% of families, and in a fortnight there are £12 billion in welfare cuts plus untold billions more in cutting public services which will be higher priorities to oppose and pledge to reverse.