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Stakes high for Miliband’s risky stance on riots

By Andy McSmith

Politicians all sound the same, it is sometimes said, but yesterday David Cameron and Ed Miliband took different positions as they delivered their respective thoughts on last week's riots.

The Labour leader did not sound at all like David Cameron.

Come to that, David Cameron did not sound much like himself.

As he put it: “I want to make something very clear — I get it. This stuff matters.”

In political terms, the strategy adopted by Ed Miliband has more risks.

A call for understanding — the word Cameron was careful not to utter — was the centrepiece.

He was deliberately agnostic about the underlying cause of the riots, even resisting the temptation to blame Tory cuts in the police budget.

He wants a commission to uncover the truth. By taking this line, the Labour leader risks being accused of making excuses for rioting.

Even if the Labour leader's strategy fails, Miliband can draw comfort from the fact that at last he is getting a hearing.

If it works, Miliband will cast himself as the voice of reason who kept calm in a crisis, and will show up David Cameron as a man who said one thing when the going was easy and another in tough times.

It is risky strategy, but it may work.

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