He made the accusation after official data emerged showing real wages were growing for the first time in six years, prompting George Osborne, the chancellor, to hail “a major moment in the British recovery”. The prime minister said workers were getting pay rises and jobs were increasing, but the Labour leader said most people were still not feeling the benefit of a growing economy.
In their weekly Commons clash, Miliband also accused Cameron of thinking the BBC and the official Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) were in a “conspiracy” against the Tory party because they pointed out how far the state would shrink under Conservative plans.
“You know what has happened is that the mask slipped in the autumn statement. You have been revealed for who you really are,” he said.
“Let’s talk about the scale of the cuts to get to the 1930s vision. They are over £50bn – more than the entire amount we spend on schools, half of what we spend on the NHS and significantly more than in this parliament.
“Are you really pretending that cuts on this scale won’t do massive damage to the frontline services?”
Cameron said he had made difficult decisions every day “since taking over the shambles that we inherited” and accused Miliband of running a “pretence that lasted for about one week of caring about the deficit”.
He also argued: “If you are going to quote the OBR you might want to read the complete quote … it says about our spending plans: ‘The closest equivalent in the national accounts implies that by 2019-20, day-to-day spending on public services will be at its lowest level since 2002-03 in real terms.’
“Now 2002-03 in my memory was after five years of a Labour government when you were an adviser in the Treasury.
“Presumably you are now going to tell us it was a time of appalling poverty and deprivation, but I don’t seem to remember that being the message at the time.”
In a session full of jibes across the floor, Cameron said he felt sorry for Labour MPs for whom Christmas would be a “silent night” because they could not talk about the economy, immigration or their leader without being embarrassed.
Miliband sparked the attack by listing the bad things that had happened in Cameron’s year.
“You have lost two MPs to Ukip, you lost 26 too in Europe and you brought a whole new meaning to the phrase conviction politician when Andy Coulson went to jail,” he said.
“The truth is you have given up on compassionate conservatism. They have been exposed for who they really are. Your plan for the 2020s is to go back to the 1930s. It isn’t about balancing the books, it is about slashing the state and in just four months’ time that is the election choice.”
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