Ed Miliband’s wonky PMQs’ maths

by Stephen Tall on December 1, 2011

Paul Walter’s LibDemVoice review of yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions mentioned the Ed Miliband soundbite which has been picked up by much of the media… but so far without the disbelief it’s due. Here’s what the Labour leader said:

The difference is that, unlike the Prime Minister, I am not going to demonise the dinner lady, the cleaner or the nurse, people who earn in a week what the Chancellor pays for his annual skiing holiday.

A quick reminder for those who don’t live in the Westminster bubble that, last January, it was revealed (by which I mean I read it in the Daily Mail) that Mr Osborne spent £11,000 on his family holiday in Klosters.

£11,000 — according to the Labour leader, that is what dinner ladies, cleaners and nurses earn in a week, which means an annual pre-tax income of £572,000.

I assume what he meant to say was “I am not going to demonise the dinner lady, the cleaner or the nurse, people who earn in a year what the Chancellor pays for his annual skiing holiday.”

It’s not so much that Ed fluffed his line that surprised me — it’s that his original has been replayed and repeated without media comment even though it only takes a moment’s mental adding-up to realise it simply doesn’t add up.

But then that’s what happens when politics becomes wrapped around the language of so-called ‘class-war’ — facts and objectivity go out of the window.